A dozen big awards contenders coming to screens in 2022

Yes, this year’s award season is only barely underway — but some contenders for trophies in 2023 (yikes) are already shaping up. Steve Newall takes a look at some of the award-friendly pics releasing throughout 2022.

Canterbury Glass

David O. Russell (American Hustle, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) may not have made off with an Oscar yet—it’s Spike Jonze’s trophy he is running away with in the image above—but he’s taking another shot with Canterbury Glass. Plot details of this period pic are under wraps, all we know is that a doctor and lawyer form an unlikely partnership (Courtroom surgery? Prescriptions for plaintiffs?). Oh, and that the film stars Margot Robbie, Christian Bale and John David Washington, and the huge cast also includes Taylor Swift, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Robert De Niro, Michael Shannon and Timothy Olyphant.

Possible big nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Bale), Best Original Screenplay

Disappointment Blvd.

Ari Aster served up an impressive one-two punch with Hereditary and then Midsommar, and looks to maintain his fruitful partnership with indie studio darlings A24 here. Aster has previously threatened that his next film would be a four-hour long “nightmare comedy”, which will chill those who didn’t thrill to his previous efforts. Fans, however, may be stoked to spend a good chunk of time with the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Ryan, Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane, Parker Posey and Meryl Streep as Aster unveils “an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.” Reportedly based on his 2011 short Beau.

Possible big nominations: Best Actor (Phoenix), Best Original Screenplay

Don’t Worry, Darling

Changing lanes with a swerve after debuting as a director with 2019 end-of-high-school comedy Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s sophomore effort is an erotic psychological thriller about a 1950s housewife. Florence Pugh stars, sizzling up the screen with Harry Styles, as she starts to suspect all is not well in the supposedly utopian community she’s living in. Wilde cited Adrian Lyne erotic thrillers (like Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal) as an inspiration, calling them “really sexy, in a grown-up way… I kept saying, ‘Why isn’t there any good sex in film anymore?’”

Possible big nominations: Best Actress (Pugh), Best Adapted Screenplay


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It’s creeping up on a decade since Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, and now he’s back with a film on the King of Rock n’ Roll (and perhaps the King of Comebacks). Austin Butler (memorably chomped in the junk by Cliff Booth’s dog in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) struts his stuff as Presley in this biopic, joined by Tom Hanks as enigmatic manager Colonel Tom Parker (a role that saw Hanks contract COVID-19 while shooting Elvis in Australia).

Possible big nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Hanks)

Empire of Light

Averaging 5.5 Oscar nominations per film, Sam Mendes has been an awards fixture ever since winning the Academy Award for Best Director with his debut American Beauty. Now Mendes is teaming up with fellow awards veterans Olivia Colman and Colin Firth for this love story—and, as if that wasn’t catnip enough for awards voters, Empire of Light becomes exponentially bigger Oscar bait when learning it’s set in and around a beautiful old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s. Ah, movies about movies…

Possible big nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Colman) Best Actor (Firth), Best Original Screenplay

The Fabelmans

Way back in 1999, Steven Spielberg was talking about how long he’d wanted to make a film about his childhood. Soon we’ll get to see it, with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as parents to a young boy named Sammy (standing in for kid Spielberg, pictured above). Joining the ranks of directors making semi-autobiographical tales about their youth, it’s too early to tell if The Fabelmans will shed light on the tricky relationship between kids and flawed father figures. Perhaps there’s a reason we’re only seeing this now, with the film announced after Spielberg’s dad Arnold passed away in 2020 at the ripe age of 103.

Possible big nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Williams) Best Actor (Dano), Best Original Screenplay

The Killer

Reuniting with Se7en writer Andrew Kevin Walker, David Fincher gets noir-y with this adaptation of the French graphic novel that takes readers inside the solitary life—and sociopathic mind—of an assassin. Michael Fassbender looks set to star as the titular killer, who’s starting to crack as his crimes begin to catch up with him. Sounds like a great excuse for Fincher to explore grim and gloomy territory again, in a globe-trotting movie pic coming to Netflix next year (and for additional must-watch points, also stars Tilda Swinton).

Possible big nominations: Best Director, Best Actor (Fassbender)

Killers of the Flower Moon

The sixth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio and the tenth between Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Killers Of The Flower Moon is a crime drama set in the 1920s, based on real events—members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma were murdered in serial fashion, a string of brutal crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror, and the FBI came in to investigate. Jesse Plemons is the lead investigator for the Bureau, a role originally intended for DiCaprio until he asked to switch sides and play the nephew of De Niro, who looks splendidly-cast as a mafioso-like cattleman suspected of the crimes.

Possible big nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (De Niro), Best Supporting Actor (DiCaprio), Best Adapted Screenplay

Next Goal Wins

We also get Thor: Love and Thunder this year, but of Taika Waititi’s projects most likely to win over awards voters, it’s this comic tale of courage and determination. Based on the doco of the same name, Next Goal Wins follows the appointment of a Dutch-American coach (played here by Michael Fassbender) to the American Samoa national football team—a side regarded as the worst team in the world, and who previously lost 31-0 to Australia. There’s plenty of scope for culture clash comedy, as well as lashings of heart as the coach has to understand his charges, among them fa’afafine defender Jaiyah Saelua. Expect plenty of familiar Kiwi faces, alongside Elisabeth Moss and Will Arnett (added in reshoots to replace the disgraced Armie Hammer).

Possible big nominations: Best Actor (Fassbender), Best Adapted Screenplay

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Mad Max: Fury Road spinoff Furiosa is coming, but first the great George Miller treats us to an epic fantasy romance, starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. A woman encounters a wish-granting djinn while holidaying in Instanbul in what Miller described to Deadline as the “anti-Mad Max” with plenty of interiors and dialogue but also punctuated with action scenes. With a $60M budget, don’t expect this one to be a chat-fest, however… and expect the crew, including most key Fury Road collaborators, to join Miller in dazzling us.

Possible big nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Swinton), Best Actor (Elba), Best Original Screenplay

The Whale

Brendan Fraser’s comeback continues—after praise for his turn in Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move last year—with this starring role for director Darren Aronofsky (Fraser has a supporting part in Scorsese’s film above, too). Based on the play of the same name, The Whale sees a 270kg man (requiring Fraser to endure a lot of make-up and prosthetics) try to reconnect with his estranged daughter after abandoning the family for a new relationship (and then binge eating from pain and guilt). A24 has the rights to this drama, which sounds about right given the subject matter—might be a bit too weird for the awards crowd, but who knows?

Possible big nominations: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay

White Noise

Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig lead Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of White Noise. Don DeLillo’s 1985 breakout novel followed a year in the life of a professor pioneering the field of Hitler studies, whose academic and domestic life is brutally disrupted by “the Airborne Toxic Event” that afflicts his college town. Multiple attempts have been made to bring DeLillo’s novel to the screen before, and now it lands with Baumbach as his first adaptation, taking on some suitable-seeming themes: campus satire, marriage comedy, industrialisation horror, and a very, very 1980s vibe.

Possible big nominations: Best Director, Best Actress (Gerwig), Best Actor (Driver), Best Adapted Screenplay