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Collage image with pictures from Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Bros, Strange World, The Woman King, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story Graphic: Pete Volk/Polygon | Source images: 20th Century Fox; Disney; Universal Pictures; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Netflix

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The 29 most exciting movies coming out before the end of 2022

Saving the best for last

2022 is already starting to wrap up. Pretty wild, right?

It’s been a good year at the movies, with plenty of theatrical and straight-to-streaming releases that have left a mark on us and kept us entertained. But as usual, many studios and streamers have saved some of their best for last, and there are an exciting slate of movies coming out in the final months of the year.

We’ve got blockbusters, genre fare, likely awards darlings, and so much more. Here are the movies we’re most excited to see before the end of 2022, in the order in which they will be released.


Saloum

Three men wearing ponchos look inside a box and smile in Saloum Image: Shudder

The Senegalese action-horror thriller Saloum follows a trio of wise-cracking mercenaries who, after abducting a drug lord from Guinea-Bissau and absconding with his trove of gold bricks, journey to Sine-Saloum, Senegal, to hide out until the heat dies down. Little do they know, the region harbors a strange and malevolent force that threatens their lives as well as their big payday. —Toussaint Egan

Premieres on Shudder on Sept. 8

Barbarian

Georgina Campbell pokes a stick in Barbarian Image: 20th Century Studios

I’ve heard exactly two things about Barbarian from friends who have seen it: (1) it’s one of the best, funniest, and scariest horror movies of the year, and (2) you’re best served by knowing nothing going in.

Comedian Zach Cregger, perhaps best known as one of the founding members of The Whitest Kids U’ Know, directed this horror movie starring Georgina Campbell (Black Mirror), Bill Skarsgård (the It movies), and Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers). Campbell plays a woman who shows up to a rental house she booked, only to find another lodger already there. Things get a lot stranger from that point! —PV

In theaters on Sept. 9

See How They Run

Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson, Sian Clifford, Pearl Chanda, Jacob Fortune Lloyd, David Oyelowo and Ania Marson all dressed up fancy in the film SEE HOW THEY RUN Photo: Parisa Taghizadeh/Searchlight Pictures

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery isn’t the only nouveau whodunnit in the cards this fall. See How They Run, based on its very funny trailer, appears to directly parody the work of Agatha Christie, as a series of murders besets the cast and crew of a Mousetrap-style play in 1950s London. Even a young Richard Attenborough gets involved. Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, and the magnificent Ruth Wilson all appear to be on brilliant form; fans of the best British TV comedy should know that Inside No. 9’s Reece Shearsmith is in it, and the director Tom George made the brilliant rural sitcom This Country. —Oli Welsh

In theaters on Sept. 16

Do Revenge

Camila Mendes as Drea and Maya Hawke as Eleanor in colorful outfits in Do Revenge Photo: Kim Simms/Netflix

When the trailer first dropped for this Netflix dark comedy, we immediately thought of one thing: Heathers. Camila Mendes (Riverdale) and Maya Hawke (Stranger Things) pair up to take revenge on the people who have wronged them. The colorful trailer is filled with pastel tones and cute outfits — pair that with the charismatic cast, and you have one of Netflix’s most promising original releases of the back half of the year. The movie is directed by Thor: Love and Thunder co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who made her feature debut with 2019’s Someone Great. —PV

Streaming on Netflix on Sept. 16

The Woman King

Viola Davis stands strong as Nanisca in The Woman King. Photo: Ilze Kitshoff/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard, Love & Basketball) directs this historical epic about the group of female warriors who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey (located in present day Benin) in the 19th century. The movie stars Viola Davis as the general Nanisca, who must train a new group of warriors. Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) and John Boyega also co-star. —PV

In theaters on Sept. 16

Catherine Called Birdy

Joe Alwyn and Bella Ramsey play with swords in Catherine Called Birdy. Photo: Alex Bailey/Prime Video

Fans of Karen Cushman’s 1994 Newbery Honor-receiving middle grade historical fiction novel, rejoice! Our time is now! This movie adaptation stars Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey as the defiant Catherine, a young girl living in the Middle Ages whose father wants to marry her off to the most advantageous match. But Catherine’s determined not to get married off, which leads to antic after antic. The original book gave a lot of insight into Middle Ages culture, as well as some pretty detailed descriptions of various martyred saints, since it was written as Catherine’s diary and she made note of all the Saint Days. Word is out on if director Lena Dunham will include that in the Prime Video adaptation. —Petrana Radulovic

Streaming on Prime Video on Sept. 23

Lou

Allison Janney and Jurnee Smollet stand in the forest in Lou, backgrounded by lumber Photo: Liane Hentscher/Netflix

There are few things better in life than when a decorated and skilled actor decides to take their talents to the world of direct-to-video (or streaming) action. Excitingly, it is now Allison Janney’s turn, as she plays a mysterious (and grumpy) older woman who has a special set of skills and uses them to help her neighbor (Jurnee Smollett) after a kidnapping. Directed by former cinematographer and second-unit director Anna Foerster (who directed Underworld: Blood Wars and episodes of TV shows like Jessica Jones and Westworld), the trailer also boasts a fight with action legend Daniel Bernhardt (Atomic Blonde, Birds of Prey), who frequently shows up in movies like this to make the star look great. He rules at it, and it’s a good sign this movie is going to be kick all sorts of butt. —PV

Streaming on Netflix on Sept. 23

Blonde

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde Image: Netflix

Between its NC-17 rating, the scandalous fictions of its source novel by Joyce Carol Oates, the fearless pronouncements of its director, Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), and its blazing hot but admittedly not very American-accented star Ana de Armas, Netflix’s Marilyn Monroe pic is this year’s controversy magnet. It might shock or confuse, but given Dominik’s track record it’s bound to be a thoughtful piece of work, too. Meanwhile, check out the trailer; the dedication to getting the lighting, framing, color, and texture of some of Monroe’s most iconic imagery exactly right is beyond belief, and could well be one of the year’s great labors of love. (The cinematographer, Chayse Irvin, shot Beyoncé’s Lemonade.) —OW

Streaming on Netflix on Sept. 28

Bros

Billy Eichner cocks his head in surprise in Bros Image: Universal Pictures

Billy Eichner co-wrote and stars in this rom-com from director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the Neighbors movies). The sprawling cast is made up almost entirely of LGBTQ+ actors and includes Jim Rash, Bowen Yang (fresh off one of the best movies of the year, the gay rom-com Fire Island), Guillermo Díaz, Dot-Marie Jones, and many more.

It’s being promoted as the first major studio gay rom-com, but could it become the latest addition to the great history of excellent LGBTQ comedies? The hilarious trailer is promising, but we’ll have to wait and see. —PV

In theaters on Sept. 30

Vesper

Eddie Marsan in a swampy area in Vesper Image: IFC Films

There’s something particularly compelling about the first looks at the sci-fi indie Vesper. Maybe it’s that it looks like a joint jam session of practically every culty, memorable science fiction movie or show that’s caught our eye over the past few years. Maybe it’s the ambitious plot description, about a 13-year-old girl navigating a broken world until the chance to ally with a stranger offers her a way into the Citadel, a high-tech enclave for the powerful elite. Maybe it’s just the way practically every frame of the trailer has something visually interesting or compelling going on. Whatever it is, we’re hooked. —Tasha Robinson

In theaters on Sept. 30

Smile

A character in the movie Smile with a wide grin and a shard of glass Image: Paramount Pictures

The trailer for this is so terrifyingly tantalizing that when it played before Nope, my theater companion turned to me and said, “I don’t know if I can handle this,” speaking purely about the trailer. I’ve been let down by many a well-edited trailer before, but my greatest hope for Smile is that it is one thing: interesting. Ideally it matters to me less whether this movie is good or bad, and more that it is compellingly strange and maybe at least once scares the bejeezus out of me. I don’t know if Smile will deliver on that. But with the general state of unease the previews suggest and the trailer’s final stinger swinging around in my brain, I’m certainly willing to find out. —Zosha Millman

In theaters on Sept. 30

Till

Danielle Deadwyler, wearing a yellow dress, and Jalyn Hall, wearing a suit, walk past a train in Till. Image: United Artists Releasing

Chinonye Chukwu’s 2022 biographical drama stars Danielle Deadwyler (The Harder They Fall) as Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting family in Mississippi. Beyond the horror of her son’s murder, Till is the story of how love and grief has the power to shape the world for generations to come. —TE

In theaters on Oct. 7

Hellraiser

A close-up of the original Hellraiser movie poster focusing on Pinhead’s hands and the Lament Configuration puzzle box Image: RLJ Entertainment

Hulu’s latest straight-to-streaming revival of a legendary horror franchise hopes to follow in the footsteps of the excellent Prey, bringing Pinhead to a new generation of horror lovers. This time around, Pinhead is played by Jamie Clayton (Sense8), in a movie directed by David Bruckner (The Night House) and adapted from Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart by Bruckner collaborators Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, with a story by David Goyer (the Dark Knight trilogy). The teaser dropped in late August, giving us mostly spooky vibes (but also a first glimpse at Pinhead’s new look). —PV

Streaming on Hulu on Oct. 7

Decision to Leave

Two people stand next to each other, looking in perpendicular directions, in Decision to Leave. Image: CJ Entertainment

Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) won Best Director at Cannes this year for this contemporary Korean mystery thriller. Its logline sounds like pure crime cliche: “A detective falls for a mysterious widow after she becomes the prime suspect in his latest murder investigation.” But nothing in Park Chan-wook’s world is ever quite as it seems, while the trailer is stuffed with his seductive, swoonsome, darkly romantic imagery. —OW

In theaters on Oct. 14

Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday

Scott Adkins points his finger while seated at a bar table in Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday Image: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Legendary action star Scott Adkins co-wrote the 2018 comedy Accident Man with his friend Stu Small, adapted from a comic strip Adkins read as a young man. Accident Man is about a hitman whose trademark approach is murders that look like accidents, making this series closer to a Hitman adaptation than the actual Hitman movies.

The first movie was directed by frequent Adkins collaborator Jesse V. Johnson and is one of many memorable post-John Wick action movies that feature stellar choreography and practical effects work (special shoutout to the scene where Adkins fights both Michael Jai White and Ray Park).

In Hitman’s Holiday, the directorial duties move from Johnson to sibling duo George and Harry Kirby, but Adkins and Small return to write the story. Ray Stevenson also reprises his role from the first movie. —PV

In theaters and available on demand on Oct. 14

Black Adam

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Black Adam Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. has been undergoing some major reshuffling after a change in ownership, and the result is just one DC movie coming out for the rest of the year. That would be the Dwayne Johnson vehicle Black Adam, in which he plays the antihero and comic book enemy of Shazam in a solo movie. Black Adam is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, a very skilled director who first plied his trade in the horror (Orphan, House of Wax, The Shallows) and “Liam Neeson” (Non-Stop, Run All Night, The Commuter) genres, and recently made his move to big blockbusters (and working with Johnson) with Disney’s Jungle Cruise. Black Adam also promises our first look at the Justice Society, which will include Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate. —PV

In theaters on Oct. 21

The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Gleeson sitting inside a house as Colin Farrell looks at him through a window in the film The Banshees of Inisherin Photo: Jonathan Hession/Searchlight Pictures

It’s enough to know that this film reunites Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and writer-director Martin McDonagh 14 years on from their magnificent tragicomedy about sad hitmen, In Bruges. This time the pitch is even more oblique, but potentially just as rueful and absurd. In rural Ireland, two friends’ lives are upended when one of them abruptly and without reason decides to end their friendship. Farrell taps deep into his talent for looking helplessly confused, and Gleeson into his equal talent for gnomic stubbornness. —OW

In theaters on Oct. 21

Wendell & Wild

Raúl (voiced by Sam Zelaya) holds up a drawing at a school desk in Wendell & Wild Image: Netflix

Legendary stop-motion animator Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) returns for his first feature film in over a decade (2009’s Coraline was his last one). That alone is enough to get us interested. Then you add in a screenplay co-written by Jordan Peele and the fact that Peele and his old pal and collaborator Keegan-Michael Key will be playing, per Netflix’s official description, “demon brothers who enlist the aid of a tough teen with a load of guilt to summon them to the Land of the Living.” Yes, please! —PV

Streaming on Netflix Oct. 28

Armageddon Time

Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway sit at a table in Armageddon Time. Image: Focus Features

James Gray (The Immigrant, Ad Astra) is one of my favorite directors working today, and his latest is a coming-of-age story based in part on Gray’s own childhood in Queens. Jeremy Strong, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Anthony Hopkins star, while Oscar-nominated cinematographer Darius Khondji (Uncut Gems) shot the movie. —PV

In theaters on Oct. 28

Lost Bullet 2: Back for More

Alban Lenoir makes a fist with his hand on an open car door in Lost Bullet 2 Photo: Julien Goldstein/Netflix

The first Lost Bullet, a white-knuckle thriller about a man framed for a crime he didn’t commit, is one of the best action movies on Netflix. Director Guillaume Pierret returns for the sequel, as does former stunt man Alban Lenoir, who co-wrote and starred in the first movie as well. —PV

Streaming on Netflix on Nov. 10

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Letitia Wright wears white in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Image: Marvel Studios

Ryan Coogler’s follow-up to 2018’s Black Panther follows the leaders of Wakanda who, in the wake of the untimely passing of King T’Challa, must defend their nation from a new threat in the form of the underwater nation of Talocan and their ruler Namor (Tenoch Huerta). The real-life death of former star Chadwick Boseman has resulted in the elevation of former supporting actors Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira to starring roles, while the film will also feature the on-screen debut of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), aka Ironheart. Who will inherit the mantle of the Black Panther? We’ll have to wait until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres in November to find out, but no matter what happens, everything’s gonna be all right. —TE

In theaters on Nov. 11

The Menu

Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy in the film THE MENU. Photo: Eric Zachanowich/Searchlight Pictures

“Yes, chef!” This is a satirical, blackly comic horror about a young couple (Nicholas Hoult and Anya Taylor-Joy) traveling to a remote island to eat at the exclusive restaurant of a frighteningly intense chef, played by Ralph Fiennes. Once the hand-picked diners are at chef’s mercy, things take a dark turn. The script is said to be an absolute cracker. The director is Succession regular Mark Mylod, and one of The Menu’s screenwriters worked on the show, too; expect the world of privilege and pretension to be ruthlessly and sadistically skewered. —OW

In theaters on Nov. 18

Strange World

A fantastical, colorful image of an alien planet, with two figures looking on in awe, in Strange World. Image: Disney

Disney’s newest upcoming film is an homage to old science fiction movies — and feels like another swing at the quirky action-adventure flicks that dominated animation in the early 2000s. The new movie takes place on a strange alien planet and follows a family of explorers who must learn to get along despite their many, many differences as they search the new planet. Family stories? Sci-fi adventures? Twitter legend Jaboukie Young-White voicing one of the characters? Sign me up. —PR

In theaters on Nov. 23

Bones & All

Taylor Russell (left) as Maren and Timothée Chalamet (right) as Lee in the back of a pickup truck in BONES AND ALL Photo: Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Call Me by Your Name duo Timothée Chalamet and director Luca Guadagnino team up again for a story of teen romance and obsession with an extraordinarily dark twist. Alongside Chalamet, the movie will also star Taylor Russell as the other half of the movie’s teen couple, who share a secret that drives them to the edges of civilized society. —Austen Goslin

In theaters on Nov. 23

The Fabelmans

The 40th Anniversary Screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” Opening Night at the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM

Steven Spielberg explores his own childhood in this fictionalized tale of a Midwestern Jewish kid dealing with family secrets through his love of film. These auteur memory pieces are all the rage; think Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, or Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light, also coming this fall. None of those directors can claim Spielberg’s legendary status, though, or an origin story that’s already stuff of cinematic myth. As evidenced by West Side Story, his craft and talent for image-making are undimmed, and with The Fabelmans he’s making a rare foray into the personal material that gave his heyday classics Close Encounters and E.T. such raw emotive power. This could be really special, and the grown-up cast is top notch, too: Paul Dano, Michelle Williams, and Seth Rogen. —OW

In theaters on Nov. 23

Pinocchio

Count Volpe holds a piece of paper in front of Pinocchio in Netflix’s Pinocchio, from Guillermo del Toro. Image: Netflix

Why are there three Pinnocchio movies out in 2022 (with a game on the way next year)? Does anyone know? It’s not like the book just entered the public domain or anything. The puppet turned real boy is in the zeitgeist, apparently. But we’re pretty certain that Guillermo del Toro’s version of the wooden puppet will be the best one yet. After all, this is a passion project that the acclaimed director has been working on for years, and it’s rendered in absolutely gorgeous stop-motion animation, which already makes it stand out from the rest. —PR

Streaming on Netflix Dec. 9.

Empire of Light

Olivia Colman’s hair blows in the wind in front of a movie theater in Empire of Light Image: Searchlight Pictures

1917 director Sam Mendes returns this December with Empire of Light, a new romantic drama starring Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) and Micheal Ward (The Old Guard). Details are scant at the moment, but from the looks of the trailer the film will follow a couple on the south coast of England in the 1980s who form a powerful bond over a mutual love of cinema. —TE

In theaters on Dec. 9

Avatar: The Way of Water

Lo’ak the Na’vi touches a new water creature in the sea of Pandora probably? Image: 20th Century Studios

For every “Do people still care about Avatar?” remark over the last 13 years, made as development, production, and post persisted on a sequel to the epic science fiction film, a wise voice has piped in to say: “Do you doubt James Cameron?” Folks, the righteous do not. Having overcome impossible odds on films like Terminator 2 and Titanic, the renegade filmmaker has more than earned the right to cover A-list actors in ping pong balls, plunge them into pools, and reenter the world of Pandora for a sequel that people aren’t clamoring for like they might a Marvel sequel. But who cares? Cameron has a vision, a wet one, and when he picks back up with the adventures of Jake Sully, Neytiri, and their wee little Na’vi kids this winter, the promise to audiences is uncompromised imagination in 3D. Good, bad, or weird, Avatar: The Way of Water will be one of a kind. —Matt Patches

In theaters on Dec. 16

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

(L-R) Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig sit around a table (with Norton and Craig standing) in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Photo: John Wilson/Netflix

I can think of few more basic pleasures in life than what I imagine Knives Out 2 (formally known as Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) will offer me. “Basic” is a term that can be weaponized these days, but I think that Knives Out is on the knife’s edge of the double meaning: Sure, it’s popular and “basic” in the pejorative sense. But then again, who else is out here doing it like Rian Johnson? The man knows how to write tight, upending expectations just as much as he is playing into them. With a sprawling cast taking to the high seas in a (probable) homage to one of Johnson’s favorite mysteries and all-timer whodunnits The Death of Sheila (and yeah, sure, Death on the Nile, but who’s gonna top Agatha Christie in this life, huh?) — well, all I can say is: anchors aweigh! —ZM

Streaming on Netflix on Dec. 23

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