Goodbye, and good riddance to 2020. What started out like any other year quickly became anything but, as for lots of cinephiles across the world, the sad sight of cinemas being forced to shut their doors was extremely tough to take. The streaming services came to our rescue to deliver some quality films in 2020 which certainly helped with the fact that a lot of the big blockbuster releases that were planned for 2020 were delayed. Yet, with the vaccine for COVID-19 starting to be rolled out, hopefully we will be able to return to cinemas at some point in 2021.
So with that faint glimmer of optimism, let’s look ahead and see what are the films that we will (fingers, and just about everything else, crossed) be seeing on the big screen in 2021. Since many of last year’s films were delayed, a few films from last year’s last will crop up again, along with some new entries. With all those delayed films, let’s hope 2021 can be a big year for cinema. As always with these lists, there are some honourable mentions that just didn’t quite make the list, and these are:
Venom: Let There Be Carnage, If you saw my review of the first film, you’ll know that I hated it and it was one of the worst things I saw in 2018. However, with Andy Serkis attached as director, for this sequel has me intrigued. Given Serkis’s expertise with motion capture work, I hope that he can use that expertise to make something more compelling than that awful first film, and less of the horrendous cheesy dialogue would be great as well.
Godzilla VS Kong, The MonsterVerse hasn’t exactly had the easiest of starts to its existence as a cinematic universe. Both 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island were both beset by similar problems, namely too little screen-time for their eponymous titans, in favour of mostly very bland humans. 2019’s King of the Monsters certainly packed more action, but was bogged down by a problematic script. We go to these films to see giant monsters throw down, so if they can focus more on that and less on the humans, this titanic clash certainly could be an enthralling spectacle.
West Side Story, While I am not the most ardent musicals fan out there, I’m not averse to a decent musical every once in a while, and with Steven Spielberg attached as director of a new adaptation one of the most famous musical films ever made, well that has my attention.
The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s films are almost always eccentric, but that eccentricity doesn’t prevent his films from being wonderfully crafted pieces of art. After making the wonderful Isle of Dogs in 2018, the quirky director makes his return to live action. With another stacked cast including Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson and Adrian Brody.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The second film in Phase 4 of the MCU that if release dates hold, will follow after Black Widow. While the end of Phase 3 of the MCU saw some beloved characters say farewell, Phase 4 is looking like it will introduce lots of new characters to the MCU. Just Mercy director Destin Daniel Cretton is behind the camera, with a cast that overwhelmingly consists of actors of Asian descent. Given the much discussed “Mandarin” twist in Iron Man 3, fans will be hoping this film sees the genuine article in action.
Honourable mentions have been honoured, and since there’s quite a few films coming out this year, let’s see what cracked my top 15: (Current UK release dates unless specified)
15. The King’s Man
Release date: 12th March
How this film must have wished it held on to that initial November 2019 release date. No film has been delayed quite as much as this prequel film to the Kingsman series. This time around there’s no Eggsy or Harry Hart. Instead the film promises to be a look at how the Kingsman agency came to being in the first place. With Matthew Vaughn once again directing, with a packed cast including Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Charles Dance, Djimon Hounsou and Daniel Brühl.
Release date: 5th November (USA)
The Infinity Saga might have wrapped up 23 films worth of MCU build up, but even after all that, the folks at Marvel are not showing any signs of slowing down. The studio has proved that it can take lesser known properties in their roster of heroes, and make extremely entertaining movies out of them. With an exciting cast, and Chloe Zhao in the director’s chair the studio will be hoping they have another Guardians of the Galaxy on their hands.
13. In The Heights
Release date: 30th July
One of the first of many films on this list that has had its release date delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lin-Manuel Miranda is synonymous with creating stories that have some excellent music, gaving written songs for Moana, as well as his starring role in the Tony award winning musical Hamilton. The latter of which was given a worldwide audience after a recording of the musical was released to Disney+ last year, to much acclaim from audiences that were stuck at home.
With In the Heights, fans will recognise Miranda’s trademark lyricism, but it promises to be a very different type of musical in comparison to Hamilton. With Crazy Rich Asians director Jon Chu on board, it promises to be a landmark moment for diversity on screen, due to its Latinx cast, and the fact that the film will be set in the Latin Washington Heights district of New York.
12. Malcolm & Marie
Release date: 5th February
John David Washington and Zendaya in a film together. I mean, is there anything more that needs to be said?
When you have two time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand in a starring role, that by itself should be enough to capture the attention. Added to the fact that this film has been receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews during its festival run last year, most notably for McDormand’s performance and for the direction by Chloe Zhao, both of whom are heavily tipped to be in the running for awards.