22 films to watch in 2022

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A hero

With a deliberately ambiguous title, A Hero is the work of one of today’s masters, Asghar Farhadi. Two of his most touching films, A Separation and The Seller, each won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (before the category was renamed), and the latter is up for this year’s award. Once again, his characters embody the clash of tradition, morals, politics and a changing society in today’s Iran. With Farhadi’s usual eloquence and precise, intimate observation, the story follows Rahim, a flawed but extremely sympathetic man jailed for debt. When he gets two days off and tries to figure out a way to pay off that debt, a small act of dishonesty gets out of hand and the glare of social media makes his problems worse. (Caryn James)

Released in the US on January 7th

Beautiful

This cyberpunk update to Beauty and the Beast received a 14-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May – and it’s easy to see why. Mamoru Hosoda’s dazzling anime is a fairytale romance, high school soap opera, superhero action flick, and sci-fi mystery all in one. More than that, the film is a technical marvel in which every frame sparkles with a seemingly endless array of tiny details. Her heroine is a Japanese schoolgirl too shy to sing in real life, but who becomes a world famous pop star in a virtual reality community. Everyone is desperate to discover the true identity of their pink-haired, blue-eyed alter ego – and when Belle meets the mysterious and monstrous Beast online, she desperately seeks to find out who he is, too. (Nicolas Barbier)

Released January 14 in the US and Turkey, January 20 in Italy and February 4 in UK and Spain

The batman

Robert Pattinson channels his inner bat in this grammatically accurate latest reboot. It’s not Batman, it’s the Batman. And if you thought The Dark Knight was a cranky guy, think again. Matt Reeves, who co-wrote and directed, told Empire he viewed his version of the crime fighter as a Kurt Cobain-inspired recluse, until a dirty and worn out Batsuit. Pattinson has the right brooding game for it, portraying a hero who is only in his second year saving Gotham, still finding his way as he takes on the ruthless Riddler (Paul Dano). Colin Farrell, under layers of prosthetics, is The Penguin. But apparently there’s going to be a bit of humor amid the darkness and violence, including the comedic moment in one of the trailers, when The impassive Batman to Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), from its husky, ultra-serious voice, “You have a lot of cats.” (JC)

International release March 4

Everything everywhere at once

The directorial team known as Daniels (aka Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) turned eccentricity into an art form in 2016’s Swiss Army Man, their funny, blacker-than-black comedy about a flatulent corpse. Their new film, with a title suggesting controlled chaos, leaps into science fiction. Michelle Yeoh plays a woman whose simple and relevant attempt to finish her taxes takes her through multiple universes, where she can exist as different versions of herself. The cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis as a villainous accountant who gets in his way. The trailer suggests a moving family story, martial arts extravaganza, and a deserved showcase for Yeoh, all shaped by Daniels’ out of the ordinary manic style. (JC)

Released in the United States and Canada on March 25

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