The 10 most anticipated queer films and TV shows coming out in 2022
Because we desperately need something to look forward to right now
Queeries is a weekly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that queries LGBTQ art, culture and/or identity through a personal lens.
It seems fair to assume that the vast majority of us are pretty desperate for something to look forward to right now. The holidays (or whatever those were) are over, winter is in full force and Omicron is in even fuller force, leaving many of us clinging to our sanity for dear life. So I decided to kick off a new year of this column by relaying something providing me with a tiny bit of positive anticipation right now: some very promising queer film and TV coming our way in 2022. And although this is not the article you truly want to read right now (that one would be entitled "Pandemic slows to a crawl as governments turn unprecedented focus to climate change and societal inequalities"), hopefully it at least provides a few minutes of amusement!
Am I Ok?
Every January, the Sundance Film Festival previews some of the year's best LGBTQ films (last year's premieres included Flee, Ailey and Together Together). And among the many anticipated possibilities from this year's edition (which runs January 20-30, sadly again only virtually) is the directorial debut of Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne, AM I OK?. The directors — who are romantic partners in real life — previously worked together on the wildly underrated Amazon series One Mississippi, and they here take on a romantic comedy centred around Lucy (Dakota Johnson) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno). Sundance calls I AM OK? "an exceptionally sweet and charming love story about two adults working through the complexities of self-discovery and personal awakening," and I am very OK with trusting them given the talent involved.
Bros and Fire Island
With Nicholas Stoller's Bros and Andrew Ahn's Fire Island, we're getting not one but two Hollywood-produced romantic comedies about queer men this year — pretty incredible given that that hasn't really happened since the 1990s with In & Out and The Birdcage. What's more is that while those films were largely starring and created by straight people (the exceptions being Nathan Lane in The Birdcage and In & Out screenwriter Paul Rudnick), both Universal's Bros and Searchlight's Fire Island feature exclusively LGBTQ casts (even in the straight roles!). No studio-produced film has ever done this.
Bros stars Billy Eichner (who also co-wrote the script with Stoller) alongside the queer likes of Luke Macfarlane, Jim Rash, Benito Skinner, Guillermo Díaz, Guy Branum, Symone (of Drag Race fame) and the legend that is Harvey Fierstein in a story of two very busy men (Eichner and Macfarlane) who may or may not be stumbling toward love. Fire Island, meanwhile, stars Joel Kim Booster (who also write the script), Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully and Matt Rogers. Set in the famous gay destination of its title, the film follows two best friends who embark on a week-long vacation accompanied by cheap rosé and a small group of eclectic friends. Both have some of the funniest people on the planet — queer or otherwise — involved, and both should be high atop your list of films to see in 2022.
Also at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Canadian filmmaker Chase Joynt follows up his extraordinary No Ordinary Man (one of my 10 favourite queer films of last year) with another documentary that aims to unpack trans history and experience: Framing Agnes. The titular Agnes is the pioneering, pseudonymized transgender woman who participated in Harold Garfinkel's gender health research at UCLA in the 1960s, and the film blends fiction and non-fiction to tell her story and many like it. "Joynt's signature form-rupturing style radically reenvisions the imposition of the frame on the cultural memory of transness through his brilliantly crafted, communally driven excavation," says Sundance. "This reclamation tears away with remarkable precision the myth of isolation as the mode of existence of transgender history-makers, breathing new life into a lineage of collaborators and conspirators who have been forgotten for far too long."
A cinematic adaptation of Bethan Roberts's acclaimed 2012 novel My Policeman is coming to screens this year, with none other than Harry Styles in the lead role. The singer plays Tom, a closeted policeman in 1950s England who marries a school teacher (Emma Corrin, who played Diana on The Crown) even though he's in a relationship with a man (David Dawson). It will be big test of the range of Styles's skills, who before this has only had a small role in Dunkirk and a cameo in Eternals on his film acting CV (though he also killed it on Saturday Night Live). The same goes for openly queer director Michael Grandage, who has previously done extensive award-winning work on the British stage but never directed a film. But helping our optimism is that the script was adapted by Ron Nyswaner, who nearly 30 years ago received an Oscar nomination for writing Philadelphia.
Though it's been out in its native Spain since October, Pedro Almodóvar's Parallel Mothers will finally hit Canadian cinemas (if they re-open?) at the end of January. I can fully attest it will be worth the wait, having been lucky enough to already see it via screener (though I am very excited to re-watch it in a proper theatre). Starring Almodóvar's muse Penélope Cruz in a stunning, Oscar-worthy performance as a middle-aged photographer who has a baby at the same time as a young woman named Ana (Milena Smit), it is best to go into Parallel Mothers knowing as little as possible about its plot. But if theatres do open back up just in time for its release, what better way to return to them than with Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz?
Queer as Folk
After two previous iterations (the incredible 1999 British series and the somewhat over-appreciated American remake that followed shortly after), Queer as Folk is coming back this year with a "reimagining" of the British original, this time set in New Orleans. The first American version had been set in Pittsburgh but was very much shot in Toronto with many Canadian creatives involved (John Greyson, Jeremy Podeswa and Bruce McDonald all directed episodes), and the new version — while also shot in New Orleans — maintains the northern connection. Newfoundland-born filmmaker Stephen Dunn (Closet Monster) created, wrote and directed the 2022 version, while Kim Cattrall (!) has a major supporting role as "a martini-soaked, high-society Southern debutant with trailer park roots" (!!). With a cast rounded out by Ryan O'Connell, Johnny Sibilly, Jesse James Keitel, Candace Grace and Juliette Lewis (who's already having a great year thanks to Yellowjackets), we are very ready to see what QAF 3.0 has in store.
After stealing the hearts of Pheobe Waller-Bridge and everybody who watched the second season of Fleabag, Andrew Scott will continue to prove he is so much more than "hot priest" this year with the lead role in the hugely anticipated Showtime series Ripley. Based on Patricia Highsmith's best-selling Tom Ripley novels (one of which was already adapted into a perfect film, 1999's Matt Damon-starring The Talented Mr. Ripley), the series stars Scott (who is openly gay in real life) as the ambiguously queer Ripley, a grifter in 1960s New York. Johnny Flynn and Dakota Fanning co-star in the roles Jude Law and Gwnyeth Paltrow played in the 1999 film, with Steven Zaillian (The Night Of) writing and directing the entire first season (each season will be based on a different book).
We won't have to wait long for what is personally my most anticipated television event of 2022: the conclusion of Search Party, one of the greatest (and most underappreciated) series of the past decade. Premiering this Friday, January 7th on Crave in Canada and HBO Max in the U.S., the fifth and final season will pick up after Dory (Alia Shawkat) is rescued from the deranged superfan (Cole Escola) who held her captive for all of season four, only to now... form a cult. Drew (John Reynolds), Elliot (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) are all back, with Jeff Goldblum, John Waters and Kathy Griffin joining the cast in what this early review of the season calls "one of the craziest things I've ever seen done by a comedy series." And isn't that all we could we possibly ask for right about now?
Untitled Julio Torres Project
Probably the most purely enjoyable item of film news in 2021(at least for me personally) came via this article entitled "We Are Overwhelmed to Learn That Julio Torres Is Making an A24 Movie With Tilda Swinton." The singular comedic talent of Torres — a former Saturday Night Live writer (who was responsible for this iconic sketch starring the aforementioned Harry Styles) and the co-creator and co-star of HBO's brilliant Los Espookys — uniting with the singular screen presence of Swinton (who has more comedic range that she's given credit for, see Trainwreck) for a movie from a distributor that basically never misses? I couldn't have dreamed up a more intriguing cinematic scenario. Add the fact that Emma Stone is producing and Isabella Rossellini, RZA and Greta Lee are co-starring and we've got ourselves 2022's most intriguing queer film (even if it doesn't have a title yet).