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Olivia Wilde Getty 2.jpg

Films Directed by Women to Look Out for In 2022

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | January 7, 2022 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | January 7, 2022 |


Olivia Wilde Getty 2.jpg

2022 is the year where the film industry is hoping to get back to normal, whatever the hell that means in a pandemic-ridden world. As I write this piece, major movies are seeing their release dates pushed back while film festivals either go all-digital or try to press forward with in-person events in the face of the omicron variant. One hopes that, however the next twelve months shake out, women directors won’t be left in the cold as a result.

Last year was a mixed bag for women filmmakers. We saw unprecedented numbers of female nominees in the Best Director category at the Oscars, by which I mean two, as well as the victory of Nomadland’s Chloe Zhao. Julia Ducournau became only the second female director to win the Palme d’Or for Titane. Audrey Diwan took home the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Happening. Jane Campion is currently a frontrunner for the 2022 Oscars thanks to the majestic The Power of the Dog. Yet the number of women directors behind top-grossing films decreased. In the top 100 films, the percentage of women directors decreased from 16% in 2020 to 12% in 2021.

This year, we don’t currently have a lot of major releases scheduled with women behind the camera but that will change as the months progress. Still, I think it’s worth compiling a list of 2022 films directed by women to look out for, partly so that we can all be aware of movies we may not have known about before, but also as a painful reminder of how far we have to go before gender parity in the entertainment industry is possible. This list is by no means comprehensive and schedule dates are likely to change because, you know, COVID. I’ve tried to focus on films that either have a set release date for 2022 or are likely to premiere in the next year, but none of this is guaranteed. Just consider this a basic blueprint.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: TRANSFORMANIA



DIRECTOR: Jennifer Kluska (and Derek Drymon)
CAST: Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon.
PLOT: ‘When Van Helsing’s mysterious invention, the “Monsterfication Ray”, goes haywire, Drac and his monster pals are all transformed into humans, and Johnny becomes a monster! In their new mismatched bodies, Drac, stripped of his powers, and an exuberant Johnny, loving life as a monster, must team up and race across the globe to find a cure before it’s too late, and before they drive each other crazy.’
Kluska and Drymon take over from Genndy Tartakovsky for the fourth film in the series. Last October, Sony Pictures Releasing canceled the film’s release plans and sold the film’s distribution rights to Amazon Studios for $100 million.
RELEASE DATE: January 14.

LUCK
DIRECTOR: Peggy Holmes
CAST: Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg.
PLOT: ‘When an unlucky girl stumbles upon the never-before-seen world of good and bad luck, she teams up with magical creatures to uncover a force more powerful than even luck itself.’
Luck is the first film in a multi-year partnership between Skydance Media and Ilion Animation Studios, with all the titles set to premiere exclusively on Apple TV+. Luck, however, is mired in controversy due to the involvement of John Lasseter, the disgraced Disney/Pixar executive who left that company following sexual harassment allegations. Emma Thompson chose to leave the film after Lasseter was hired. There’s still no trailer for Luck, which doesn’t bode well for a movie that’s less than two months away from being released.
RELEASE DATE: February 18.

MARRY ME



DIRECTOR: Cat Coiro
CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Sarah Silverman, Maluma.
PLOT: ‘After learning that her on-stage partner has been having an affair behind her back, Kat Valdez, a sensational Latin pop star, chooses to marry a stranger, Charlie Gilbert, holding a ‘Marry Me’ sign by accident at her live concert.’
JLo returns to the rom-com genre following her career-best turn in Hustlers. Expect glamor, hijinks, and plenty of tunes. The movie will be available on Peacock to stream on the sam day it’s released in theaters.
RELEASE DATE: February 22.


TURNING RED



DIRECTOR: Domee Shi
CAST: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park.
PLOT: ‘Set in Toronto, between 2002 and 2003, the film centers around Meilin “Mei” Lee, a confident 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian who is torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. And as if changes to her interests, relationships, and body were not enough, whenever she gets too excited or stressed, she “poofs” into a giant red panda due to her ancestors’ mystical connection with red pandas.’
How cute does this one look? Shi won an Oscar for her short animation Bao and makes her feature directorial debut here. Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell will write songs that will be performed in the film by the film’s fictional boy band 4*Town.
RELEASE DATE: March 11.

SNEAKERELLA



DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum
CAST: Chosen Jacobs, Lexi Underwood, John Salley.
PLOT: ‘After falling in love with Kira King, the daughter of basketball star and sneaker tycoon Darius King, an aspirant Queens sneaker designer gains the confidence to pursue his dream of becoming a professional sneaker designer with the help of his best friend, Sami, and his Fairy Godfather.’
RELEASE DATE: May 13 (via Disney+)

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING
DIRECTOR: Olivia Newman
CAST: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Jayson Warner Smith, David Strathairn.
PLOT: A young girl named Kya grows up isolated in the marsh of North Carolina and is later put on trial for murder.
Delia Owens’s debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing was an undisputed smash hit, spending over 124 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. It was also No. 1 for 2019 on Amazon.com’s list of the most sold fiction titles. Reese Witherspoon chose the book for her book club then savvily snapped up the adaptation rights for what will surely be a much-discussed film.
RELEASE DATE: July 22.

THE WOMAN KING
DIRECTOR: Gina Prince-Bythewood
CAST:Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega.
PLOT: ‘In the Kingdom of Dahomey, Nanisca is the general of the all-female military unit and Nawi is an ambitious recruit. Together, the pair fought enemies who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they have lived for.’
Gina Prince-Bythewood made one of the best action movies of 2020 with The Old Guard and is one of the rare Black woman directors to have a film in the Criterion Collection (the gold standard for 2000s romantic dramas, Love and Basketball.) Who isn’t up for a historical epic with Viola Davis in the lead?
RELEASE DATE: September 16.

DON’T WORRY DARLING



DIRECTOR: Olivia Wilde
CAST: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Nick Kroll, Chris Pine, KiKi Layne, Gemma Chan.
PLOT: ‘An unhappy housewife in the 1950s discovers a disturbing truth, while her loving husband hides a dark secret.’
Wilde made a splash with her directorial debut Booksmart and is following that up with a psychological thriller that she has promised will be very sexy. The screenplay appeared on the 2019 Black List. Expect the promo cycle around this one to be a full operation, especially if Wilde and her leading man are still together by September (I think they’re cute together!)
RELEASE DATE: September 23 (followed by a HBO Max release 45 days later.)

SPELLBOUND
DIRECTOR: Vicky Jensen
CAST: To be announced.
PLOT: ‘Spellbound tells the story of Elian, a teenager who comes of age using her magical powers to defend her family when the opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom.’
This is another Skydance/Apple TV+ animated film. What this one has in its favor is songs by Alan Menken.
RELEASE DATE: November 11.

I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
DIRECTOR: Kasi Lemmons
CAST:Naomi Ackie, Ashton Sanders, Stanley Tucci, Clarke Peters.
PLOT: ‘A look at the life & career of legendary pop/R&B vocalist Whitney Houston.’
Kasi Lemmons made one of my all-time favorite films, Eve’s Bayou, and Naomi Ackie is long overdue her breakout moment. But hoo boy am I skeptical about any project that features Anthony McCarten as its screenwriter. Houston has long been sneered at and exploited by the press. I dearly hope this film does her justice and doesn’t try to reduce her complicated life to a cutesy narrative designed to sell songs.
RELEASE DATE: December 23.

THE STARS AT NOON
DIRECTOR: Claire Denis
CAST: Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn.
PLOT: ‘In 1984’s Nicaragua, a mysterious English businessman and a headstrong American journalist strike up a romance as they soon become embroiled in a dangerous labyrinth of lies and conspiracies and are forced to try and escape the country.’
Claire Denis can seemingly do anything. No two of her films are the same. After making her majority English language debut with the striking High Life, starring Robert Pattinson, she’s adapting a novel by Denis Johnson. This is a filmmaker known for tackling prickly political ideas and this seems like it’ll be no exception.
RELEASE DATE: Expected some time in 2022.

CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY
DIRECTOR: Lena Dunham
CAST: Billie Piper, Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Joe Alwyn.
PLOT: Based on the award-winning children’s novel by Karen Cushman, centered on a young girl in 13th century England.
RELEASE DATE: While Dunham has remained a divisive and ever-present figure in pop culture, he hasn’t directed a film since 2010’s Tiny Furniture. She’s described this new film as her ‘longtime passion project’ and the cast is certainly enviable. Dunham also has a new film premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Sharp Stick.

CHRISTMAS QUINCEANERA
DIRECTOR: Gabriela Tagliavini
CAST: Aimee Garcia, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Grimaldi.
PLOT: ‘A pop star experiencing burnout escapes to a small town where she finds not only inspiration but a shot at love.’
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Netflix.

THE MOTHER
DIRECTOR: Niki Caro
CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Gael Garcia Bernal, Paul Raci.
PLOT: ‘While fleeing from dangerous assailants, an assassin comes out of hiding to protect her daughter she left earlier in life.’
JLo has no fewer than three films set for release in 2022. Two are rom-coms and then there’s The Mother, her attempt at becoming an action star. Misha Green of Lovecraft Country is on co-screenwriting duties.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Netflix.

ALONG FOR THE RIDE
DIRECTOR:Sofia Alvarez
CAST: Kate Bosworth, Andie MacDowell, Dermot Mulroney, Emma Pasarow.
PLOT: ‘The summer before college Auden meets the mysterious Eli, a fellow insomniac. While the seaside town of Colby sleeps, the two embark on a nightly quest to help Auden experience the fun, carefree teen life she never knew she wanted.’
If you’re a YA reader then the name Sarah Dessen is well-known to you. She’s one of the queens of contemporary teen fiction and it’s kind of a surprise to me that she hasn’t had tons of her books adapted into films by now. Netflix did so well with To All the Boys I Loved Before that they clearly know a good opportunity to repeat that success when they see it.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Netflix.

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER
DIRECTOR: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
CAST: Emma Corrin, Jack O’Connell, Matthew Duckett.
PLOT: ‘Based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence. A bored young woman of privilege falls into a torrid sexual affair with the gamekeeper of her husband’s estate.’
Lawrence’s book is one of the most infamous books ever published thanks to the various attempts to censor what was seen as shocking obscenity and sexual deviance. Remakes are pretty common, with each one typically reflecting the era’s attitudes towards sex and depictions of it on-screen. I wonder if this being a Netflix exclusive will lead to some no-holds-barred sensuality.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Netflix.

MY FATHER’S DRAGON
DIRECTOR: Nora Twomey
CAST: To be announced.
PLOT: ‘Elmer Elevator searches for a captive Dragon on Wild Island and finds much more than he could ever have anticipated.’
Cartoon Saloon are making some of the best animated films on the market right now and it continues to royally suck that they don’t get the commercial attention they deserve. Wolfwalkers benefitted from an Apple TV+ release so here’s hoping a Netflix drop will give them some much-deserved hype.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Netflix.

PERSUASION
DIRECTOR: Carrie Cracknell.
CAST:Dakota Johnson, Henry Golding, Cosmo Jarvis, Suki Waterhouse.
PLOT: Adapted from the novel by Jane Austen. ‘Anne Elliot broke off her engagement to Captain Frederick Wentworth when her friends and family persuaded her to do so. Seven years later, the pair meet again, setting the stage for a second chance at love.’
We were initially promised two adaptations of Persuasion but the second one, set to star Sarah Snook, was canceled. So, we’ll just have to be happy with this Netflix one that includes a starry cast and the directorial debut of Cracknell, a celebrated West End theater director.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Netflix.

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE
DIRECTOR: Josephine Decker
CAST: Grace Kaufman, Jason Segel, Cherry Jones.
PLOT: ‘Lennie Walker, a high school student grieving the sudden death of her older sister, becomes romantically involved both with her sister’s former fiancé, who shares Lennie’s grief and loss, and with a new boy in town, who shares Lennie’s love of music.’
Josephine Decker is best known for her stridently indie films that proudly delve into the experimental, like Madeline’s Madeline and the semi-biographical psychological thriller Shirley. It’s interesting to see her take on a YA novel adaptation (this one is based on a beloved book by Jandy Nelson.) I hope she retains her ambitious scope.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Apple TV+.

ROSALINE
DIRECTOR: Karen Maine
CAST: Kaitlyn Dever, Minnie Driver, Kyle Allen, Isabela Merced, Bradley Whitford.
PLOT: Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy gets a new perspective as the love of Romeo and Juliet is viewed through the eyes of Rosaline, Juliet’s cousin and the young woman who Romeo first had feelings for.
RELEASE DATE: Expected in 2022 on Hulu.

BRAINWASHED: SEX-CAMERA-POWER
DIRECTOR: Nina Menkes
CAST: Includes interviews with Julie Dash, Penelope Spheeris, Rosanna Arquette, Charlyne Yi, Joey Soloway, Catherine Hardwicke, Eliza Hittman and many others.
PLOT: ‘BRAINWASHED: Sex-Camera-Power is about the politics of cinematic shot design, and how this meta-level of filmmaking affects and intersects with the twin epidemics of sexual abuse/assault and employment discrimination against women, especially in the film industry.’
This documentary sounds highly fascinating and long overdue. Nina Menkes is celebrated for her independent films that span genres and political ideas. Her newest title is based on an illustrated talk she presented at the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals.
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Berlin Film Festival.

892
DIRECTOR: Abi Damaris Corbin
CAST: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington.
PLOT: Living in a cheap motel in Atlanta and separated from his wife and child, former U.S. Marine veteran Brian Easley is desperate. Driven to the brink by forces beyond his control, the soft-spoken, kind man decides to rob a bank and hold hostages with a bomb. As police, media, and family members descend on the bank and Brian, it becomes clear he’s not after money — he wants to tell his story and have what is rightfully his, even if it costs him his life.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

AFTERSHOCK
DIRECTOR: Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee
PLOT: ‘An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the U.S. maternal health system. Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac were vibrant, excited mothers-to-be whose deaths due to childbirth complications were preventable. Now, their partners and families are determined to sound a rallying cry around this chilling yet largely ignored crisis.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

ALICE
DIRECTOR: Krystin Ver Linden
CAST: Keke Palmer, Jonny Lee Miller, Common.
PLOT: ‘Alice spends her days enslaved on a rural Georgia plantation restlessly yearning for freedom. After a violent clash with plantation owner Paul, Alice flees through the neighboring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering that the year is actually 1973.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

AM I OK?
DIRECTOR: Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro
CAST: Dakota Johnson, Sonoya Mizuno, Sean Hayes, Kiersey Clemons
PLOT: ‘Lucy and Jane are the best of friends. They finish each other’s sentences, predict every detail of each other’s food order, and pretty much know everything about each other. But when Jane is promoted at work and agrees to move to London for her new position, Lucy confesses her deepest, long-held secret: She likes women, she has for a long time, and she’s terrified by this later-in-life realization. Suddenly, their friendship is thrown into chaos as the two choose different routes by which to navigate the unexpected changes in their lives.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

BABYSITTER
DIRECTOR: Monia Chokri
CAST: Patrick Hivon, Monia Chokri, Nadia Tereszkiewcz, Steve Laplante
PLOT: ‘Middle-aged sexist Cédric gets suspended from work after drunkenly kissing a female reporter during a prank on live TV. Stuck at home with his long-suffering girlfriend, Nadine, and their incessantly crying baby, Cédric teams up with his sensitive brother, Jean-Michel, to co-author a confessional book apologizing for their past misogyny. Enter Amy: a mysterious and provocative young babysitter who forces the trio to face their sexual anxieties while turning their lives upside down.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

CALL JANE
DIRECTOR: Phyllis Nagy
CAST: Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Kate Mara.
PLOT: ‘Chicago, 1968. As a city and the nation are poised on the brink of violent political upheaval, suburban housewife Joy leads an ordinary life with her husband and daughter. When Joy’s pregnancy leads to a life-threatening condition, she must navigate a medical establishment unwilling to help. Her journey to find a solution to an impossible situation leads her to the “Janes,” a clandestine organization of women who provide Joy with a safer alternative — and in the process, change her life.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

FRESH
DIRECTOR: Mimi Cave
CAST: Daisy Edgar Jones, Sebastian Stan, Charlotte Le Bon.
PLOT: ‘Frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on lame, tedious dates, Noa takes a chance by giving her number to the awkwardly charming Steve. Noa dares to hope that she might have actually found a real connection with the dashing cosmetic surgeon. She accepts Steve’s invitation to an impromptu weekend getaway, only to find that her new paramour has been hiding some unusual appetites.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

HATCHING
DIRECTOR: Hanna Bergholm
CAST: Jani Volanen, Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Saija Lentonen.
PLOT: ‘Tinja’s mother showcases their family’s existence on her popular blog as an idyllic existence, but beneath the impeccable veneer, friendless tween gymnast Tinja is struggling. After finding a wounded bird in the woods, she brings its strange egg home, nestles it in her bed, and nurtures it until it hatches.’
RELEASE DATE: Set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.



Kayleigh is a features writer and editor for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.



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