From Wakanda Forever to Don’t Worry Darling: the best films to see in autumn 2022
The Avatar sequel arrives, Michael Flatley’s secret agent struts in, Marvel returns to Black Panther territory – and Harry Styles teams up with Florence Pugh in a horror-thriller
Tue 23 Aug 2022 03.00 EDT
This film’s director, George Miller, called it “the anti-Mad Max”, the precise opposite of his futurist gonzo action classics. Instead, it’s a wry fantasia, a meditation on stories and myths. Tilda Swinton plays a professor of narratology, who is in Turkey for a conference. She opens a glass bottle in her hotel and a genie comes out: Idris Elba, keen to grant her a wish or two.
2 September. All release dates are UK and subject to change
Michael Flatley fans and masochists worldwide are talking excitedly about making a special pilgrimage to Dublin for the premiere of a film that has become a legend – produced, directed, written by and starring Riverdance hoofer Flatley as a supercool secret agent. This action-thriller technically premiered at Raindance film festival in London in 2018, but snarky journalists were excluded by Flatley, who was displeased by people using the phrase “vanity project”, and its mythic reputation grew. The trailer has shown us something bafflingly wooden and weird.
A group of twentysomethings have a party at a mansion during a hurricane and, after inadvertently consuming some narcotics, things go terribly wrong while the gang play a murder-in-the-dark game called Bodies Bodies Bodies. There’s a super-hip cast including Rachel Sennott (from Shiva Baby), Maria Bakalova (from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Pete Davidson.
The runaway success of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out and the Agatha Christie revivals Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express proved there’s still a market for the classic, tongue-slightly-in-cheek all-star period whodunnit. Britcom writer Mark Chappell has scripted this mystery set in 1950s London theatreland about a murder of one of the crew working on a Mousetrap-type production. Saoirse Ronan plays Constable Stalker and Sam Rockwell is Inspector Stoppard (perhaps named after the author of The Real Inspector Hound).
Claire Denis brings out three heavy-hitters of French cinema for an intense love triangle. The setting is Paris and Juliette Binoche plays the presenter of a highbrow radio talkshow, who lives with a former sports star, retired through injury, played by the smoulderingly rumpled Vincent Lindon. One day, Binoche glimpses, in the street, her old lover, the one she left for Lindon; this is Grégoire Colin. The meeting of all three is set to be explosive.
David Cronenberg’s new film (not a remake of and not to be confused with his 1970 movie of the same name) is a body-horror atrocity exhibition in the Ballardian style he gave us in Crash. In a bizarre future world, evolution and medicine have caused bodies to grow many new organs. Viggo Mortensen plays a performance artist whose girlfriend, Léa Seydoux, removes his extra organs and tattoos them in front of a live audience – to the fascination of a government inspector played by Kristen Stewart. Fuh-reaky.
A glorious shapeshifting epiphany/freakout of a documentary about David Bowie. It’s a montage of archive material, live-performance footage, Bowie’s own experimental video art, paintings, movies and stage work, together with his elegant – and invariably polite – interviews with various normcore TV personalities who don’t exactly get it.
Ticket to Paradise
A classy, old-school romantic comedy is on offer here, featuring above-the-title movie stars, not just IP monsters and superheroes. George Clooney and Julia Roberts play a divorced couple who learn that their daughter, played by Kaitlyn Dever, is about to get married to a guy in Bali that she has only just met. This marry-in-haste scenario was exactly the mistake they themselves made as teenagers: now this middle-aged couple head to Bali on a mission to thwart the wedding. But could it be that they might fall back in love?
It Is in Us All
The actor Antonia Campbell-Hughes showed her directorial talent with last year’s eerie short film Acre Fall Between and now she makes a feature debut with It Is in Us All, a disquieting meditation on death and destiny centring on a car crash on a lonely road in Ireland. It involves two people: a 17-year-old local played by Rhys Mannion and a London visitor played by Cosmo Jarvis, whose existence is mysteriously upended by the tragedy.
Don’t Worry Darling
Olivia Wilde directs this psychological horror-thriller from a story by Carey Van Dyke. Florence Pugh and Harry Styles play Alice and Jack, a young married couple living an apparently idyllic and prosperous existence in a 1950s US town called Victory, which is economically dependent on a single company whose business is a very disturbing mystery.
In Front of Your Face
The exquisitely delicate, underplayed, low-budget chamber dramas of Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo have become a delight on the festival circuit. In this new film, Korean star Lee Hye-young plays Sangok, a once famous Korean actor who has returned to her homeland from the US. She tours around all her old haunts and everything seems calm – until there is a terrible revelation.
The Woman King
Viola Davis stars in this expansive historical epic directed by Gina Prince Bythewood. Davis is General Naniscal, leader of an all-female military unit called the Agojie in the 19th-century African kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin), who fights against the European colonial powers who seek to enslave them. John Boyega plays the real-life ruler King Ghezo.
The Lost King
The discovery in 2012 of Richard III’s remains cried out for a British cinema treatment and now Steve Coogan has co-written a comedy, directed by Stephen Frears, about the struggle of the real-life amateur historian Philippa Langley to get the academic and historical establishment to pay attention to her hunch that the king might be buried beneath a Leicester car park. She is played by Sally Hawkins and Coogan is her husband, John.
A stunning black-widow noir romance from the Korean director Park Chan-wook, who has recently pivoted away from gonzo revenge violence to super-classy suspense thrillers. Chinese star Tang Wei plays the beautiful wife of a businessman whose smashed body is found at the bottom of a well-known climbing rock. Was he pushed? The investigating officer (Park Hae-il) begins to suspect the widow … and to fall in love with her.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Writer-director Martin McDonagh, the creator of In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, can be relied on for high-octane black comedy. Now, he has reunited his stars from In Bruges, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, two friends on a remote Irish island who find themselves in a dramatic situation when one suddenly ends their relationship.
The mercurial and controversial film-maker David O Russell is back with a quirky, high-concept 30s-set drama starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington as three friends who witness a murder and then become suspects themselves, in the process uncovering a bizarre conspiracy at the heart of American government. It co-stars Chris Rock, Robert De Niro, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek and Mike Myers.
This deeply felt and beautifully acted movie from screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro and director Oliver Hermanus is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1953 classic Ikiru, or To Live. Bill Nighy plays a buttoned-up civil servant who, approaching the end of his 30 years’ joyless bureaucratic employment, is diagnosed with stomach cancer and becomes obsessed with a single mission: to get a modest little children’s playground built before he goes.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther was a sensational smash and instant Afro-futurist classic for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2018. Here is the keenly awaited sequel, although with changes. Chadwick Boseman, who played the lead, T’Challa, died in 2020; his character has not been brought back and Daniel Kaluuya has indicated that he does not reprise his role as W’Kabi. But Lupita Nyong’o is back as T’Challa’s former lover, Nakia.
An investigative-journalism procedural in the tradition of All the President’s Men and Spotlight, with Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan. They play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, two reporters from the New York Times working on the story of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse and their long, complex struggle to face down Weinstein’s legal attack dogs and to persuade his victims to go on the record.
Avatar: The Way of Water
When James Cameron brought out his massive, immersive sci-fi smash Avatar in 2009, with its weird, blue Smurfy creatures, everyone thought that 3D must surely be here to stay. But 3D vanished, and Avatar became an embarrassing craze of yesteryear, though many kept the faith. Now there is this sequel set 10 years on, with Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña reprising their roles.