Another year, another slate of promising pictures, and 2022 will certainly not be lacking for productions featuring some of Canada’s foremost talents in cinema. Here is a list of my 5 most anticipated releases from Canadians this year, in order of their release date.
Scream, January 14th
Okay, yes, the Scream franchise has not been truly good since Scream 2, but there are a number of reasons to be optimistic about this entry. For one thing, they have once again managed to round up original cast members David Arquette, Courtney Cox, and of course Ontario’s Neve Campbell, who plays the franchise’s central heroine Sidney Prescott, though I suspect one of them won’t survive this time around. Just a hunch.
The underlying issue with Scream’s third and fourth instalments is that they succumbed to the very genre clichés that the original two movies parodied, becoming more predictable affairs that valued character kills more than narrative substance.
However, with this latest entry, simply titled Scream (which is surely a nod to the franchise’s shift back to what made the original movies so good), there is a new duo of directors of Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, the latter of whom has some impressive horror projects under his belt already, while a co-writer on the movie is the talented James Vanderbilt. Here’s hoping that this fresh creative team can revitalise the once-proud franchise, and thankfully, we don’t have to wait long to find out.
Turning Red, March 11th
Not long removed from winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Short for directing Bao in 2019, Toronto native Domee Shi is making her feature film debut with Pixar’s Turning Red, which also makes her the first woman to solely direct a picture for the studio.
Much like Bao, Domee Shi draws inspiration from her own life and imbues it into the DNA of the narrative. As such, the movie is set in Toronto between 2002 and 2003 and centres on Meilin “Mei” Lee, a thirteen-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who suddenly begins turning into a red panda any time she feels stressed.
Given the time in which the movie is set, it is clearly Shi’s allegorical depiction of her own adolescence, whilst reconciling her Chinese heritage with her status as a Canadian millennial.
If Shi’s work on Bao is anything to go by, Turning Red should be an insightful and heart-warming feature that depicts a pocket of society that still does not see enough representation in animated cinema. And who knows, given Pixar’s track record, this could even land Shi her second Academy Award.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, May 6th
I went to see Spider-Man: No Way Home two weeks ago, and to say it was the ultimate example of wish-fulfilment in a superhero movie would be an understatement. Marvel keep finding ways to outdo themselves, and to still be producing some of their best works 27 movies into MCU is as mind-boggling as it is unprecedented.
Part of what makes No Way Home the perfect love letter to fans is its embrace of the multiverse as a means of reintroducing characters from past cinematic depictions of Spider-Man, including those from the Sam Raimi trilogy. Imagine my excitement, then, as the pending release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which – as the title clearly notes – will not only continue the multiversal shenanigans that made No Way Home such a breath of fresh air, but it is also directed by Sam Raimi, in what is his first foray into the superhero genre since Spider-Man 3.
This pairing of director and material is seemingly a match made in heaven, as the multiverse concept is the perfect playground for a filmmaker of Raimi’s vision. Meanwhile, Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange is flawed to the point that there is potential for some of the best character work to date in the MCU opposite his returning co-star and love interest, Rachel McAdams.
Avatar 2, December 16th
This one’s been a long time in the making, and we’re going to have to hold on for a little while longer as James Cameron’s next epic is not slated for release until December 2022.
This is for good reason, however, as Cameron is once again pushing the envelope of what’s possible with special effects in cinema. This time around, Cameron is looking to shoot significant portions of this long-awaited sequel’s motion capture underwater, which was which not possible during production of the first movie. Certain actors, such as series newcomer Kate Winslet, even had to do free-diving training in preparation for the role.
Cast members who survived the 2009 movie, such as Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Giovanni Ribisi will return, while actors who seemingly met their demise, such as Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang, will also return, though exactly how has not yet been revealed on this secretive project.
Knowing James Cameron, though, Avatar 2 will undoubtedly be another technical marvel from the groundbreaking filmmaker, and one of cinema’s most ambitiously stunning films to date. Of course, Cameron is known for adding the substance to match his visuals, so this sequel is unquestionably one of my anticipated films this year.
Crimes of the Future, TBA
Last, but certainly not least, is the great David Cronenberg’s next film project and his first in the horror genre since 1999’s Existenz, Crimes of the Future.
There was much speculation as to Cronenberg’s status in the film industry, as he had not made a film since 2014’s Maps to the Stars and had even openly acknowledged that he may never make another movie again, which he was at peace with.
Thankfully, Cronenberg is returning to the director’s chair at least one more time, and not only to the genre for which he is best known, but the one he has had the most lasting impact upon, with his most commonly used moniker being “Godfather of body horror.”
Not too much is known about the film, other than its cast and vague premise, but what little we know about the latter is very much Cronenbergian.
Set in a “not-so-distant future where humankind is learning to adapt to its synthetic surroundings. This evolution moves humans beyond their natural state and into a metamorphosis, altering their biological makeup. While some embrace the limitless potential of trans-humanism, others attempt to police it.” Frequent Cronenberg collaborator, Viggo Mortensen, who co-stars alongside an impressive cast of Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman and Don McKellar (who was also in Existenz), will portray a visual artist who reportedly embraces this altering of his biology, removing tumours from his body for audiences, though he is seeking to further push the boundaries of this newfound performative art.
Again, incredibly Cronenbergian, and I say this with a giddy, almost childlike sense of anticipation, which is admittedly an odd way to describe my excitement for a movie that will likely have me squirming throughout. Sadly, Crimes of the Future does not yet have a release date, but given that principal photography concluded in September, it is reasonable to expect its release some time in 2022.