2022’s most anticipated Australian movies & TV shows

‘Barons’ dig for ‘Gold’ at ‘6 Festivals’ – here are 10 small and big screen releases we’re excited about

When Spider-Man: No Way Home stormed to an opening weekend gross of over $26million in December, it finally gave cinema chains and local studio bosses something to smile about.

The major streamers and free-to-air channels, meanwhile, had a smile plastered over their collective face all 2021 as locked-down audiences sunk further and further into their sofas and greedily absorbed whatever sounds and lights emanated from their TVs.

And looking at the clutch of Australian movies and TV shows slated for 2022, all those grins are only going to grow wider. Here are 10 local productions to get excited about.

2022 Australia TV shows to look forward to

Heartbreak High

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Netflix, release date TBC

The cast of Netflix's forthcoming 'Heartbreak High' reboot. Credit: Netflix
The cast of Netflix’s forthcoming ‘Heartbreak High’ reboot. Credit: Netflix

Heartbreak High started life in 1987 as a stage play about a young teacher who falls for one of her 17-year-old students. Six years later it became a movie and then one of Australia’s most iconic teen rom coms, shown in over 70 countries.

So Netflix are wagering that nostalgic, millennial parents and their Gen Z to A offspring will share the joy and pain of Sydney’s Hartley High School’s notably-more-diverse students over the eight new episodes. (Just don’t expect too many sympathetic love stories of teachers and pupils.)

If it’s a hit, it could seriously boost the streamers’ subscription numbers among the ever-fanatical Home and Away audience.

Barons

ABC, release date TBC

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Barons is a new twist on the well-trodden theme of hippy surf drop-outs bonding over wipe-outs. In this eight-part cautionary tale, the wave riders cash in on their little slice of paradise, swapping boardshorts for boardrooms and becoming embittered corporate rivals.

Friendships they swore would last forever are jettisoned in the flotsam as they learn the hard way that the sharks in the business world have sharper teeth than the ones they used to surf alongside.

Shot on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, its impressive cast includes Sean Keenan, Jillian Nguyen, Ben O’Toole, Hunter Page-Lochard, Sophia Forrest, George Pullar, Lincoln Younes and Vivenne Awosoga.

Significant Others

ABC, release date TBC

Between them, the writers of this six-part psychological family potboiler have scripted The Hunting, Mystery Road, Broadchurch, Beautiful People, Glitch and Saving Mr Banks, so expect sparky dialogue and some taut, no-holds-barred exchanges.

In this show, a single mum disappears during her morning swim, leaving two teenagers to piece together what happened. Creator Tommy Murphy has described the show as a “character-driven series with an undertow of intrigue” – a potentially unfortunate choice of expression given the subject matter.

Murphy cut his teeth in the theatre, but is best known for his pitch perfect screenplay for Timothy Conigrave’s memoir adaptation Holding The Man (2015).

The Twelve

Foxtel, release date TBC

Foxtel’s flagship original Aussie production for 2022 is a 10-part courtroom drama with a stellar cast led by Sam Neill and including Brooke Satchwell (Mr Inbetween), Kate Mulvany (Hunters) and Marta Dusseldorp (Wentworth).

A woman is accused of killing a young child and the jury of 12 supposedly ordinary Australians, carrying more emotional baggage between them than the average Dreamliner, must consider all the confusing and contradictory pieces of evidence before deciding which side has the best barrister.

Produced by Warner Bros, it’s an adaptation of the award-winning 2019 Belgian series De Twaalf and already has a clutch of international distribution deals.

2022 Australia movies to look forward to

Gold

Stan (January 26) and in cinemas (January 13)

If the recent trailer is anything to go by, the real hero of Zac Efron’s outback survival thriller is the make-up artist who transformed the former pretty boy into a cross between Captain Birdseye’s corpse and a homeless sea captain.

Efron’s character is stranded in the brutal Flinders Ranges in South Australia, guarding a gigantic gold nugget and wondering if the man he sent to get excavating equipment (co-writer and director Anthony Hayes) will ever return. Cue a descent into paranoia as real (and imagined) threats slowly engulf him.

6 Festivals

Paramount+, release date TBC

6 Festivals
Bliss N Eso, Dune Rats and G Flip, actors Rory Potter, Guyala Bayles, Rasmus King and Yasmin Honeychurch, and filmmaker Macario de Souza. Image supplied

The new(ish) streamer’s first local feature film is an emotional tour ’round six of Australia’s iconic music festivals, as seen through the eyes of three teenage friends, Maxie, James and Summer. Just as they begin their six-month pilgrimage, James is diagnosed with a brain tumour and the music helps them keep reality at bay – albeit fleetingly.

The movie, written and directed by Macario de Souza, gained access to shoot at Groovin The Moo, Lost Paradise, Yours & Owls, The Drop and Big Pineapple, and features a diverse line-up of local acts including G Flip, Alison Wonderland, B Wise, Dune Rats and Peking Duk.

Blaze

In cinemas, release expected in late autumn

Archibald Prize-winning painter Del Kathryn Barton makes her feature directorial debut with an intense drama about Blaze (Julia Savage), a teenager who’s rendered catatonic after witnessing a violent rape.

The film, partly inspired by one of Barton’s paintings, mixes live action and stop motion animation to conjure up Zephyr, an enchanted, imaginary dragon who’s been part of Blaze’s life since she was little.

Following her two dazzling short films – an animated interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose and Red, a museum installation with Cate Blanchett embodying a redback spider – expect a surreal and confronting mosaic of dreamscapes and kitchen-sink reality.

Elvis

In cinemas, June 24

Tom Hanks was famously one of the first celebrities to catch COVID-19 in 2020 while filming his role as Colonel Tom Parker, manager to Austin Butler’s Elvis, in this biopic. And his suffering didn’t stop there – he’s fully bald in the movie, a look he claimed was “scaring the children”.

There’s a lot riding on Elvis for Aussie director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann, after the lukewarm responses to his last two efforts, Australia (2008) and The Great Gatsby (2013).

A 21-second teaser trailer of the great man swaggering backstage in a sequined jumpsuit as ‘Suspicious Minds’ plays in the background is all we’ve seen so far.

Seriously Red

In cinemas, release date TBC

The first feature from Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne’s Dollhouse Pictures sees disillusioned office worker Red (Krew Boylan, who also wrote the script) leave behind the 9 to 5 to sing ‘9 to 5’ as a Dolly Parton impersonator. She begins a destructive relationship with a Kenny Rogers tribute act (Bobby Cannavale) only to be disowned by her mother, who recoils in horror at Red’s silicon enhancements.

Director Gracie Otto follows up Under the Volcano, her well-received doco on AIR Studio in Monserrat, with what promises to be a colourful empowerment parable about escaping the drudgery to find yourself and become a contented island in the stream.

Transfusion

Stan and in cinemas, release date TBC

The plot of this Stan production sounds like any number of recent Liam Neeson vehicles: a disillusioned special ops vet (Sam Worthington), struggling with the death of his wife, is drawn into the criminal underbelly to save his only son from being taken from him.

And writer/director Matt Nable has previous history with Neeson – they were both candidates for DC supervillain Ra’s al Ghul in Arrow. Neeson had previously played the role in Batman Begins, but ultimately the former Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles player Nable was chosen.

His previous feature writing credit was footy drama The Last Winter (2007), which bombed at the box office despite critical acclaim.

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