50 films to see in 2022: Belfast, Avatar 2 and Top Gun: Maverick

After the pandemic nudged back blockbusters, this year should see a wide range of releases

Something a little like normality reasserted itself in the later stages of 2021, but the studios were still nudging big releases backwards and forwards (mostly backwards). This is the third year running in which we have predicted the arrival of Top Gun: Maverick in the summer. We can say with some confidence that, unless there is some sort of worldwide pandemic (as if), the Tom Cruise vehicle should finally arrive in cinemas. As ever, we have with later releases, had to read entrails and make with the voodoo. One or two of the potential awards-season titles listed below may end up with European releases at the start of 2023 or, if post-production delays nag, get their whole campaigns shifted by 12 months. The odd potentially tasty project may be finished earlier than feared. But we have, for now, given up on Jonathan Glazer’s adaptation of Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest. The director’s long-awaited follow up to Under the Skin is taking on the character of a great white whale.

Aisha One of the year's most anticipated Irish films sees Frank Berry, director of Michael Inside, investigate the direct provision system. Letitia Wright and Josh O'Connor are among the cast. (No release date)

Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom Sequel to one of the silliest – yet most entertaining – of the DC superhero romps. Amber Heard and Jason Momoa are both back among the coral. (December 16th)

Avatar 2 Thirteen years after James Cameron's science-fiction became the highest grossing film ever, we finally get the first of several sequels. You're sceptical? Never bet against Cameron. (December 16th)


Babylon Damien Chazelle's saga of Hollywood's early years stars Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Katherine Waterston. In the ether for a while. Surely will be ready this year. (December 25th in the US)

The Banshees of Inisherin Martin McDonagh's first feature after his Oscar triumph with Three Billboards... stars Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan in a drama shot on Inishmore and Achill. (No release date)

The Batman Yeah, yeah, apparently this is really "dark". Matt Reeves directs Robert Pattinson as some crime fighter or other. (March 4th)

Bee Gees biopic (untitled) Kenneth Branagh does not seem like the obvious choice to direct a film on the high-pitched legends, but he has done a lot to surprise us recently (see below). Release date may be a little optimistic. (November 4th)

Belfast Could Kenneth Branagh's lovely monochrome memory piece – Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan struggle as the Troubles begin – become the first Irish film to win best picture Oscar? It is current favourite. (January 21st)

Benedetta Will the protestors be out for Paul Verhoeven's breathless tale of lesbian love in a 17th-century monastery? Those days are probably over. (April 22nd)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever You know what this is. Marvel wisely decided not to recast after Chadwick Boseman's early death. Might Letitia Wright's role be expanded to lead status? Maybe, maybe not. (November 11th)

Blonde A version of Andrew Dominik's study of Marilyn Monroe was allegedly ready for last year's Cannes. Subsequent release was delayed amid rumours of disturbing content. Ana de Armas stars in a wildly intriguing Netflix project. (No release date. Who the heck knows?)

Crimes of the Future Léa Seydoux tells us that the latest speculative flick from the legendary David Cronenberg is "going to be very Cronenberg". That's enough for us. Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen also star. (No release date)

Steven Spielberg makes a film about his childhood? What's new? This time it's really about his childhood

The Cry of Granuaile The latest from Donal Foreman, director of the excellent Out of Here and The Image you Missed, concerns a veteran independent film-maker visiting Ireland. (No release date)

Disappointment Blvd You want more Ari Aster after Hereditary and Midsommar? You got it. The director has claimed (joked?) that his epic business drama with Joaquin Phoenix and Parker Posey may last four hours. (Sure to be late in the year)

Downton Abbey: A New Era Well, the first one was a genuine hit. We are now into the 1930s. Will the economic crises cause downsizing? (March 18th)

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness The latest Dr Strange film follows on from events in the TV series WandaVision and Loki. That's a lot of content to keep up with. (May 6th)

Elvis Tom Hanks, playing Colonel Tom Parker, became one of the first celebrities to contract Covid when he fell ill on the Australian set of Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic. Largely unknown Austin Butler is the lead. (June 24th)

Do you remember what happened in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? Good job

The Eternal Daughter Joanna Hogg filmed this ghost story secretly with the ubiquitous Irish company Element Pictures. Tilda Swinton, of the same team's The Souvenir, is along for the ride. (Cannes premiere sounds possible)

The Fabelmans Steven Spielberg makes a film about his childhood? What's new? This time it's really about his childhood. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play parents to an imaginative kid in the director's home state of Arizona. (November 23rd)

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Jessica Chastain layers on the makeup as controversial US televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. (February 4th)

Flee Hugely praised study of Afghan refugee in Denmark. Could well become the first film Oscar-nominated in both the best documentary and best animated feature categories. (February 11th)

Happening Audrey Diwan's film about a young French woman contemplating an abortion during the early 1960s was a popular winner of the Golden Lion at Venice. (April 1st)

I Wanna Dance with Somebody Kasi Lemmons, director of Eve's Bayou and Harriet, examines the life of Whitney Houston. British newcomer Naomi Ackie is propelled into the title role. (December 23rd)

John Wick: Chapter 4 The John Wick action films have somehow escaped the jadedness of so many franchise movies. Last time we checked, there was still fun to be had with Keanu Reeves. (May 27th)

Jurassic World: Dominion Do you remember what happened in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? Good job. Anyway, the follow up to the smash brings Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum back to the party. (June 10th)

Kathryn Ferguson's documentary on Sinéad O'Connor will premiere at the Sundance Festival

The Killer Michael Fassbender stars as a mentally disintegrating assassin for David Fincher. Tilda Swinton is also on board for the Netflix production. (Might this creep into 2023?)

Killers of the Flower Moon Martin Scorsese brings a typically strong cast – Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons – to a translation of David Grann's acclaimed book about corruption and murder in 1920s Oklahoma. (Sure to be late in the year)

Knives Out 2 Netflix paid a fortune for what is now a mystery franchise. Daniel Craig is back as Detective Benoit Blanc. Presumed suspects include Edward Norton, Kate Hudson and Kathryn Hahn. Guaranteed to be watched to death on the streamer. (No release date)

Lightyear Not an origin story for Buzz Lightyear the toy. An origin story for the character who inspired Buzz Lightyear. Does Pixar's latest sound meta enough for you. (June 17th)

Pedro Almodóvar's latest stars Penélope Cruz as one of two mothers giving birth and raising children simultaneously

Matilda Film version of Tim Minchin's hit musical take on the Roald Dahl novel. Lashana "007" Lynch and Emma Thompson are among the cast. (December 2nd)

Mission Impossible 7 The spy franchise has, incredibly, been going for over 25 years. By that stage James Bond was already on to Timothy Dalton. Tom Cruise is still behind the wheel here. (September 30th)

Next Goal Wins Taika Waititi adapts a well-received documentary about the famously indifferent American Samoa soccer team. Michael Fassbender and Elisabeth Moss are the classy leads. (No release date)

Nightmare Alley Guillermo del Toro directs Bradley Cooper in a noir melodrama based on William Lindsay Gresham's shocking novel set among carnival hucksters. (January 21st)

She Said is about the journalists whose story was instrumental in bringing down Harvey Weinstein

Nope Jordan Peele's horrors are now major cinematic events. Little is known about the follow-up to Get Out and Us, but Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer are definitely among the cast. Sure to set tongues wagging. (July 22nd)

The Northman Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Björk, Ethan Hawke, and Willem Dafoe were all in Northern Ireland for Robert "The Lighthouse" Eggers's Norse drama. Indecently exciting. (April 8th)

Nothing Compares Kathryn Ferguson's documentary on Sinéad O'Connor will premiere in the prestigious World Cinema Documentary Competition at the imminent Sundance Festival. (No release date)

Parallel Mothers Pedro Almodóvar's latest stars Penélope Cruz as one of two mothers giving birth and raising children simultaneously. (January 28th)

Peter Pan & Wendy David Lowery directed the best of the recent Disney remakes with the lovely Pete's Dragon. So we can expect something worthwhile from his take on Peter Pan. (No release date)

Poor Things Yorgos Lanthimos directs Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe in a wrestle with novelist Alasdair Gray's great gesticulation towards Frankenstein. Another Element Pictures production. (Near certain big festival debut)

She Said Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star as Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, the journalists whose story was instrumental in bringing down Harvey Weinstein. (November 18th)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part one) Sequel to the superb, Oscar-winning animation Into the Spider-Verse. Hailee Steinfeld is here as Spider-Woman. Oscar Isaac is a Spider-Man from the future. (October 7th)

Ticket to Paradise Savour any big-scale rom com these days. Savour all the more when George Clooney and Julia Roberts play a divorced couple re-engaging (I bet) when their daughter makes an apparently rash romantic choice. (September 30th)

The Souvenir Part II Joanna Hogg's follow-up to her semi-autobiographical 2019 drama about (what else?) a striving film-maker has been even more highly praised. Irish co-production. (February 4th)

Thor: Love and Thunder Taika Waititi, who directed the delightfully antic Taika Waititi, is back with a film that is allegedly set to have Natalie Portman's Jane Foster take over the hammer. Works for me. (July 8th)

Top Gun: Maverick You probably had your own hair when they shot this. The blockbuster most kicked around by Covid finally reaches us. (May 27th)

Turning Red Domee Shi, winner of an Oscar for the short Bao, becomes the first woman to direct a Pixar flick on her own with this promising fable concerning a girl who periodically transforms into a red panda. (March 11th)

You Are Not My Mother The excellent Dublin horror from Kate Dolan was runner-up to Palme d'Or winner Titane at Toronto's Midnight Madness section. Fine lead turn from Hazel Doupe. (No release date)

White Noise Oh, oh, oh! Don DeLillo's classic post-modern novel. Adam Driver. Don Cheadle. Barbara Sukowa. Noah Baumbach behind the camera. A seriously enticing prospect. (Awards season ahoy!)

Wolf Nathalie Biancheri's Irish film stars George MacKay as a young man who believes himself to be a wolf. Well received at the recent Toronto film festival. (March 18th)

The Wonder Sebastián Lelio, director of A Fantastic Woman, casts Florence Pugh and Ciarán Hinds in an adaption of Emma Donoghue’s acclaimed novel. (Awards season sounds likely)

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist