Most exciting movies coming in 2022 that aren't sequels, prequels or remakes
While many of us love franchise movies and sequels to our favourite films, there's definitely something special about settling down in a cinema to watch something completely original. Whether it's a huge blockbuster idea being executed with a big injection of studio cash or an intriguing drama marshalled on to screen by a talented auteur, original movies are not nearly as endangered as some doomsayers would suggest.
In the first six months of 2022, for example, British cinemagoers will have the opportunity to enjoy plenty of entirely original projects, spanning the spectrum between arthouse gems and undeniably huge popcorn-munching spectacle.
Read more: Best movies of 2021 and where to stream them
Here's the pick of the original projects heading to the UK next year...
Licorice Pizza (1 January)
Having made the likes of There Will Be Blood and Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson is one of modern Hollywood's most acclaimed directors. He's back on screens in the new year with Licorice Pizza, in which he writes and directs the tale of high-schooler Gary, who falls in love with a photographer's assistant in her 20s. That assistant is played by Alana Haim — lead vocalist of sibling pop group Haim — while the role of Gary is filled by Cooper Hoffman, whose father was regular PTA collaborator Philip Seymour Hoffman.
As with the rest of Anderson's oeuvre, this film is likely to be a big part of the upcoming awards season, having already received positive reviews in the US.
Belfast (21 January)
Licorice Pizza is a potential contender to win Best Picture at the Oscars, but the current bookies' favourite is Kenneth Branagh's Belfast. The director's monochrome drama is set in the titular city during the Troubles and is partially inspired by his own childhood. First-time actor Jude Hill is the little kid caught within turbulent politics and the prospect of his home becoming too dangerous for him to stay there.
It's an affectionate movie, but one that never loses sight of the impact of its subject matter. Jamie Dornan and Caitríona Balfe are at the peak of their powers as the parents of Hill's character.
Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre (21 January)
Guy Ritchie recently joined forces with Jason Statham for the first time in over a decade to make cash truck thriller Wrath of Man. The dream team is back together again for the preposterously named Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre in which the electric charisma of Aubrey Plaza is added to the mix.
Read more: Guy Ritchie on working with Statham again for Wrath of Man
Statham plays the brilliantly named spy Orson Fortune, who is tasked with preventing the sale of an advanced new weapon by Hugh Grant's billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds. Given how brilliantly Grant broke bad for Ritchie in The Gentlemen, his performance should be worth the price of admission alone. In order to get close to Simmonds, Fortune enlists the dealer's favourite Hollywood actor.
Parallel Mothers (28 January)
Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar follows up his delightfully potent, Oscar-nominated drama Pain and Glory with another complex, dramatic tale. Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit play a pair of single mothers who bond when they meet on the maternity ward, with their lives subsequently entangling in surprising ways.
Almodóvar at his best is always a delight to experience and this is yet another movie which could be a key player when the Oscars are handed out.
Moonfall (4 February)
Nobody does big screen disaster quite like Roland Emmerich. The man behind Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow is taking on an outer space threat in his latest tale — the spectacularly titled Moonfall. In a case of simple but effective naming, this is a film about the moon... falling.
Read more: Roland Emmerich regrets Independence Day sequel
With the world under threat after the moon is knocked out of its usual orbit by a mysterious force, Halle Berry plays a former astronaut and NASA exec leading the charge to head out into space and do something about it before catastrophe occurs.
Belle (4 February)
Belle should probably be considered a dead cert to get a nomination for Best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars. From the Japanese animation house Studio Chizu, the movie follows a shy high school student who is able to embrace a famous and popular alter ego when she enters a virtual world. The trailer also features dragons. It's going to be great.
Dog (18 February)
Channing Tatum on a road trip with an adorable dog? That feels like the recipe for cinematic success. Tatum also takes on his first ever directorial gig — with the help of Magic Mike writer Reid Carolin — with this comedy. He plays a US Army Ranger who is tasked with transporting a dog with a notorious reputation across the country. Naturally, it's going to be heart-warming throughout.
Ali & Ava (4 March)
Clio Barnard is one of the foremost tellers of stories about Northern England, with films including Dark River and The Selfish Giant. Her latest is a complex romance, which traces the gradual courtship between Claire Rushbrook's Ava and Adeel Akhtar's Ali. They come from very different walks of life, but bond over their mutual loneliness, despite the trouble inevitably caused when their respective families find out.
Turning Red (11 March)
Incredibly, Pixar has never released a film in which a woman is credited as the sole director. That will change this year with Turning Red, helmed by Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi. It follows a 13-year-old girl struggling with the usual adolescent problems, as well as the fact she transforms into a giant red panda whenever she's experiencing heightened emotions. Rosalie Chiang leads a voice cast which also includes Killing Eve star Sandra Oh.
Unwelcome (18 March)
Northern Irish filmmaker Jon Wright, who has recently worked on Sky comedy series Brassic, is back to his horror movie roots with this tale inspired by Irish folklore. Ant-Man and the Wasp star Hannah John-Kamen and Douglas Booth play an English couple who move into a beautiful Irish cottage, only to be surprised when they're told they must leave out a nightly blood sacrifice for the local goblins.
The trailer teases a story that's as much about English-Irish tensions — obviously more febrile right now than they have been for many years — as it is about marauding beasties. This could be a very interesting little gem for genre fans.
Wolf (18 March)
There are original movies, and then there are really original movies. Everything about Wolf suggests it's firmly an example of the latter. Written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri, this film tells the story of a group of young people who suffer from species dysphoria, believing themselves to be animals. In an attempt to rid themselves of these urges, they attend a clinic run by Paddy Considine's character, who is referred to as Zookeeper.
Read more: George MacKay reflects on playing Ned Kelly
1917 leading man George MacKay believes himself to be a wolf and bonds with Lily-Rose Depp — a wildcat — as they delve more deeply into the motives of the people behind the centre. The trailer suggests a drama which is strange in all of the best ways, anchored by some excellent British acting talent.
The Lost City (25 March)
Channing Tatum's second appearance on this list sees him at the centre of a comedy-adventure tale with Sandra Bullock, which looks like a tonne of fun. Bullock plays the author of cheesy romance novels, including one about a mythical "lost city". Promptly, Daniel Radcliffe's malevolent rich guy decides to kidnap her and task her with finding the real lost city. She is joined in the quest by Tatum's character — her cover model and a wannabe hero. Brad Pitt also shows up as a cartoonishly handsome rival for Tatum.
The Northman (22 April)
With The Witch and The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers delivered a one-two punch of atmospheric weirdness that has cemented himself as one of the most talked-about filmmakers in the horror genre. His next project is an epic historical tale with a fascinating and varied cast. Alexander Skarsgård plays a Viking prince who embarks on a mission of revenge after his father is killed.
Read more: Robert Eggers reflects on bizarre shoot for The Lighthouse
Previous Eggers collaborators return to the fray this time around, including Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe and Kate Dickie. Perhaps most eye-catchingly, the cast also includes Icelandic singer Björk as a character known as Slav Witch. Buckle up for a movie which, whether it's good or not, will almost certainly be an unforgettable ride.
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (22 April)
This feels like the Avengers: Endgame moment for the unstoppable cult of Nicolas Cage. The movie sees Cage play himself and accept a million dollars to attend the birthday of his biggest and richest fan, played by Pedro Pascal. What follows sees Cage forced to embrace the identities of some of his most memorable characters.
Cage fans will, of course, be delighted by this, so it's time to get going with those rewatches of Con Air and Face/Off. The trailer also includes a welcome reference to The Croods 2, so there will seemingly be plenty of deep cut references too.
65 (29 April)
This high-concept sci-fi thriller comes from the minds of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who are best known for penning the original script which became horror hit A Quiet Place. Plot details are being held tightly to chests, with the only synopsis to date reading: "An astronaut crash lands on a mysterious planet only to discover he's not alone."
It's not much to go on, but we do know that Adam Driver will be leading the cast. Given his aptitude for choosing interesting projects of late, only a fool would bet on this one being a gem.
Watch: Adam Driver nabbed Gucci shoes from movie set