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50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Disney+, HBO Max, and Netflix will keep us entertained as theaters remain closed

50 Anticipated Movies of 2021
50 Anticipated Movies of 2021
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Anticipating movies these days is a fool’s errand. Unless it’s guaranteed to be hitting a streaming platform, the release date of any film should have an asterisk appended to it. That’s not cynical, but the nature of covering this industry amidst the pandemic.

So, you could imagine how fun this list was to put together. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.) Dragging over last year’s offerings to this one seems like an easy task, but the shift opens the door for so many questions, all of which boil down to: “What are the odds?”

For many features — you know, like Ghostbusters: Afterlife, or No Time to Die, or Halloween Kills, or any film without a streaming opt-in — the release date is as certain as we are about anything right now in life. “We’ll see” is the name of the game.

Having said that, a few studios and streaming giants are hip to the ages. Case in point: Three weeks into the new year and we already have assurances by HBO Max, Netflix, and Shudder that new movies are on the way to your living rooms.

Those offerings certainly lend some much-needed gravitas to this list, which is why we’ve split this feature into two parts. The first half sports the more reliable fare as we’ve already outlined, while the latter lists films that depend more on theatrical distribution.

Read ahead and be sure to bookmark as the year evolves. We’ll keep tabs as the dates shift, the schedules flex, and the times — to crib from Bobby D — keep a-changin’. Here’s hoping with a vaccine, we’ll all be back laughing together. Eating popcorn. Living.

Update on Thursday, January 21st: Ghostbusters: Afterlife and No Time to Die have both moved to Fall 2021 with Uncharted bumped all the way to 2022. The list has been amended to reflect these changes.

Update on Friday, January 22nd: A Quiet Place Part II has been bumped to Fall 2021.

Update on Monday, January 25th: Last Night in Soho is now expected for Halloween season.

Update on Thursday, February 25th: New dates for Bad Trip and Army of the Dead.

–Michael Roffman
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief


Movies You’re Likely to See

These are the titles that are either already set to drop on streaming networks such as HBO Max or Netflix, or they at least have the option of doing so if the studios see fit. For instance, Disney’s slate remains up in the air for 2021 — particularly, its Marvel blockbusters — though last year’s releases such as Mulan and Soul suggest a likely course.

The Little Things

the little things 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

The Little Things (HBO Max)

Release Date: January 29th via Warner Bros.

Who’s In It? Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto

What To Look For: After dialing things back to the ’30s for Netflix’s The Highwaymen, director John Lee Hancock is offering a more modern slice of crime for HBO Max with The Little Things. At the front and center of it all are Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as two sheriffs on the hunt for the same serial killer. Their best suspect is fellow Oscar winner Jared Leto, probably because he’s no doubt doing his whole Weird Leto thing. Admittedly, none of this reads as compelling beyond the star power, but hey, it’ll at least be entertaining seeing Malek play a Los Angeles sheriff. Sure. –Michael Roffman


PVT Chat

PVT Chat Film Review

PVT Chat (Darkstar)

Release Date: February 5th via Darkstar

Who’s In It? Peter Vack, Buddy Duress, Nikki Belfiglio, Austin Brown, Julia Fox

What To Look For: One of our favorite films out of last year’s Fantasia Festival was writer-director Ben Hozie‘s thoroughly modern rom-com PVT Chat. Uncut Gems standout Julia Fox stars as an online dominatrix who strikes up a curious relationship with a lonely New Yorker with a penchant for kink. What ensues is a delirious cat-and-mouse game with twists you’ll never see coming. It’s smart, it’s sexy, it’s stylish, and it’s all too real. As our own Mike Vanderbilt wrote in his glowing review, “It’s a fantasy with a happy ending, and don’t we all deserve one? Even us perverts?” Yes, we certainly do. –Michael Roffman


Lucky

Lucky Fantasia Film Festival Review

Lucky (Shudder)

Release Date: March 4th via Shudder

Who’s In It? Brea Grant

What To Look For: Like PVT Chat, director Natasha Kermani’s second feature similarly turned heads at last summer’s Fantasia Festival. Now, the slasher satire is set to drop on Shudder. Brea Grant, who also wrote the script, stars as May, a self-help author continuously stalked by a mysterious man whom no one else seems too concerned about. Sound familiar? It’s a bit of a blunt metaphor, but in the wake of 2020, the film’s themes of frustration and gaslighting are bound to hit close to home. –Jenn Adams


Coming 2 America

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America (Amazon Studios)

Release Date: March 5th via Amazon Studios

Who’s In It? Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones

What To Look For: Coming to America saw crown prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) trade his birth ponytail, a custom-trained wife who barks, and all the riches of Zamunda for a McJob, a rat-infested apartment in Queens, and a chance to find a “woman who arouses his intellect as well as his loins.” More than 30 years later, Prince Akeem returns to America to take the son he never knew he had under his wing. There’s no doubt odd couple Murphy and Arsenio Hall can still keep us in stitches as they jump into a variety of characters. What remains a mystery is whether this sequel will retain the heart and magic of the original. –Matt Melis


Justice League: The Snyder Cut

justice league the snyder cut director's cut first trailer watch dc fandome footage

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Director’s Cut (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: March 18th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher

What To Look For: Because Hollywood is built on fandom, the incessant demands of #ReleasetheSnyderCut will finally be answered this Spring with a staggering four-hour, four-part reworking of Justice League. Director Zack Snyder returns to deliver his original vision of the 2017 blockbuster, adding in new scenes, new looks, and even new villains. You know, like the DC Extended Universe’s biggest baddie, Darkseid (Ray Porter)? Rest assured, this is no ramshackle cut, but an entirely new film, one that Warner Bros. spent a reported extra $20-$30 million on. If we’re lucky, it won’t start a trend. –Michael Roffman


Bad Trip

bad trip 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Bad Trip (Netflix)

Release Date: March 26th via Netflix

Who’s In It? Eric André, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish

What To Look For: It’s been a long road for Bad Trip. If you recall, Eric Andre’s highly anticipated feature was originally slated for theaters a long, long time ago in a year we called 2019. Then it was slated to premiere at last year’s South by Southwest. Then came COVID-19. Now, it’s finally getting a release, and our 2020 Comedian of the Year couldn’t be more stoked. “I’ve been working on the movie, in fits and starts, for almost like seven years,” he told us in December, adding with relief: “But it’s at Netflix, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I think tons of people are going to see it next year.” He’s not wrong. –Michael Roffman


Godzilla vs. Kong

godzilla vs kong legendary 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong (Legendary)

Release Date: March 31st via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Jessica Henwick, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir

What To Look For: Godzilla vs. Kong is a rematch 58 years in the making. Last we saw the two titular monsters, Godzilla is the reigning alpha-predator of the world and Kong is still master of his domain on Skull Island. Obviously, something will bring these two titans of kaijudom together for the ultimate battle royal. Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler reprise their roles from Godzilla: King of the Monsters to further Monarch’s study into the Titans’ origins with a presumed third-party coming in to complicate their research and set off the titular showdown. Is Legendary’s potential finale to the MonsterVerse one where we see Toho favorites’ Mechagodzilla or Mecha-King Ghidorah? Only time will tell. –Kyle Cubr


Mortal Kombat

mortal kombat 1 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Mortal Kombat (HBO Max)

Release Date: April 16th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Lewis Tan, Chin Han, Hiroyuki Sanada

What To Look For: It’s been well over 20 years since the last Mortal Kombat film (see: 1997’s godawful Annihilation). Since then, the franchise has been relegated strictly to video game consoles, where the brand has evolved from one generation to the next. Now, after countless stops and starts (including a go by web series wunderkind Kevin Tancharoen), producer James Wan is finally dragging the IP out of development hell for a complete and total reboot. Granted, the logline reads a lot like Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1995 original, but the recent confirmation of fatalities suggests this film may test our might. –Michael Roffman


Black Widow

2020 Anticipated Comic Book Movies

Black Widow (Marvel Studios)

Release Date: May 7th via Marvel

Who’s In It? Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, Rachel Weisz

What To Look For: Having been over a decade since she first made her debut in the MCU, Scarlett Johansson will finally be taking on a lead role in Marvel’s Black Widow. Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the film follows Natasha Romanoff as she confronts the skeletons of her past. Based on what we’ve seen over the years (!), those skeletons include stellar espionage action and one hell of a supporting cast. Of course, the question remains: If theaters are a no-go, will Disney go the route of Mulan and Soul? The suits have been mum, but the option is clearly on the table for them. And us. –Michael Roffman


Army of the Dead

army of the dead 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Army of the Dead (Netflix)

Release Date: May 21st via Netflix

Who’s In It? Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Tig Notaro, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt, Raúl Castillo, Omari Hardwick, Hiroyuki Sanada, Matthias Schweighöfer

What To Look For: The real Zack Snyder joint of 2021 doesn’t involve capes or tights. No, it consists of sand, slots, and ghouls. With Army of the Dead, Snyder returns to his zombified roots, only this time he’s not remaking another George A. Romero classic (see: 2004’s Dawn of the Dead). No, he’s got his own story, and it’s pretty, pretty, pretty good. Here’s the elevator pitch: “Ocean’s 11, but with zombies.” Given the talent involved — we’re looking at you, Bautista, Notaro, and Dillahunt — we’re at the very least getting a mildly enjoyable afternoon watch on Netflix. At best? A genre smash. We like those odds. –Michael Roffman


Cruella

Emma Stone in Cruella

Cruella (Disney)

Release Date: May 28th via Disney

Who’s In It? Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Mark Strong, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Jamie Demetriou.

What To Look For: Oscar winner Emma Stone plays the nefarious titular villain, who first terrorized dogs in the original 101 Dalmatians way, way back in 1961. Cruella is an origin story, though. Set during the ’70s punk rock scene in London, the film chronicles a-then young fashion designer, particularly the experiences that led to her becoming the iconic malefactor obsessed with the skins of dogs. Glenn Close, who first brought the role to life in 1996, serves as executive producer. –Okla Jones


Fear Street Trilogy

fear street movie trilogy 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Fear Street (Netflix)

Release Date: Summer via Netflix

Who’s In It? Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Gillian Jacobs

What To Look For: If you grew up in the ’90s, it’s likely most of your nights were spent within the pages of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street. The Big Kid Books that fans of Goosebumps graduated to — that is, if they weren’t already en route to Stephen King — were filled with the kind of elevated horror that made nightlights a godsend. Well, Netflix is capitalizing on that nostalgia with not one, not two, but three Fear Street films this summer. What’s the premise? Not much is known except that it takes place in 1994 (how fitting), involves teens (of course), and will bring plenty of terror (phew). DayGlo optional. –Michael Roffman


The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

50 Anticipated Movies of 2020

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (HBO Max)

Release Date: June 4th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard

What To Look For: Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return once more to bring our favorite cinematic demon-fighting couple to life in the next installment of the mega-popular Conjuring series. This time, James Wan has passed the baton to The Curse of La Llorona’s Michael Chaves. It’s not just behind the scenes that mark a shakeup for the series; the plot centers around one of the most sensational cases from the Warrens’ files in which an American murder suspect argued that they couldn’t be found guilty of the crime, as they were demonically possessed at the time. Demonic courtroom drama and the Warrens? Yes, please. –Meagan Navarro


In the Heights

in the heights 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

In the Heights (HBO Max)

Release Date: June 18th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Jimmy Smits

What To Look For: The original trailer for In The Heights—the first Broadway stunner from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda—is pretty damn close to perfect as trailers go. It’s a riot of sound and color (not unlike those for Crazy Rich Asians, also directed by Jon M. Chu) designed to get you moving. But for all the liveliness and flash (and there’s a lot of both), the three big selling points are the timely themes of immigration, gentrification, activism, and so on; the gorgeous music; and the leading performance. Given the shift to HBO Max, Anthony Ramos will be an immediate (and literal) household name; it’s a perfect bit of casting sure to clue the broader public in on what theater fans already know: He’s a mega-watt, top-tier, breath-snatching star. —-Allison Shoemaker


Luca

luca 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Luca (Pixar)

Release Date: June 18th via Pixar

Who’s In It? No one knows yet.

What To Look For: It’s heartening to see Pixar shake some of its franchise-friendly doldrums for more diverse, original content on the back of Coco and Soul, and Enrico Casaroca’s Luca is no exception. The film will follow a friendship between two young boys, Luca and Alberto, as they bond on the Italian Riviera one summer. There’s just one catch: Alberto’s a sea monster from an underground world, disguised as a human. –Clint Worthington


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Marvel)

Release Date: July 9th via Marvel

Who’s In It? Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, Ronny Chieng, Michelle Yeoh

What To Look For: Marvel continues to pull from the back bench in Phase 4 with Dustin Daniel Cretton’s (Short Term 12, Just Mercy) Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which will feature the franchise’s first Asian lead in Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience). All told, the film will likely follow the old-fashioned origin story format of a lot of heroes’ introductions, as the skilled martial artist enters the Ten Rings organization (one we’ve seen since the first Iron Man) and confronts his past. Awkwafina co-stars alongside Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh, so if nothing else, we’ll have a cavalcade of incredible Asian actors collecting a fat Marvel paycheck, which I’m not mad at. –Clint Worthington


Space Jam: A New Legacy

space jam 2 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Space Jam: A New Legacy (HBO Max)

Release Date: July 16th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Peter Cornell, Chris Paul, Kyle Kuzma, players of the WNBA, Looney Tunes squad

What To Look For: Not even the pandemic can slow down LeBron James; if anything, it’s only made him stronger. Back in October, he secured yet another Finals win for his third NBA team to date (over his alma mater, the Miami Heat, no less), and now he’s set to spend this summer with the one and only Tune Squad. Not a bad beat for the guy who’s out for Jordan’s legacy. This starring role is one more piece to the puzzle, and let’s be honest, all signs point to a better movie. With Malcolm D. Lee at the helm and Ryan Coogler behind the script, there’s no way this doesn’t dunk over the 1995 blockbuster. –Michael Roffman


The Suicide Squad

suicide squad teaser trailer james gunn idris elba margot robbie

The Suicide Squad (Warner Vros.)

Release Date: August 6th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis

What To Look For: Before he returns to the Guardians of the Galaxy after his brief respite from alt-right trolls, writer-director James Gunn is set to make his mark on a Suicide Squad sequel stuffed with stars (literally dozens of characters!). Margot Robbie’s back, as is most of the rest of the remaining squad (sans Will Smith), and the marketing is leaning heavily into a Dirty Dozen, ’70s war movie vibe we kinda dig. It’s entirely possible this will be a bloated mess, but we have faith that Gunn will ease us through the mayhem with a wink and a smile. –Clint Worthington


The Beatles: Get Back

The Beatles Get Back

The Beatles: Get Back (Disney+)

Release Date: August 27th via Walt Disney

Who’s In It? Who do you think?

What To Look For: He conquered The Lord of the Rings. He brought back King Kong. He squeezed three films out of The Hobbit. Now, Peter Jackson is attempting to change the legacy of The Beatles — or, more specifically, their final studio album, Let It Be. By recalibrating footage from Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 documentary, the Oscar-winning filmmaker plans to capture the joy and heart of the band’s final chapter. As Ringo Starr said of the project: “There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the Let It Be film that came out [in 1970]. There was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that.” We’ll find out this August, when the Fab Four turn Disney+ into the rooftop of Apple Corps. No jackets required. –Michael Roffman


The Many Saints of Newark

The Many Saints of Newark 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

The Many Saints of Newark (HBO Max)

Release Date: September 24th via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Michela De Rossi, Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga

What To Look For: Nobody asked for it, but David Chase went right ahead and wrote a prequel to The Sopranos. Set in Newark, New Jersey circa the late ’60s, the film follows a young Tony Soprano — played here by the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael — as he grows up amidst the ensuing riots between Italian-Americans and African Americans. On paper, that reads a hell of a lot like Robert De Niro’s A Bronx Tale, but when you look at the participating crew (particularly director Alan Taylor, who helmed a hefty amount of Sopranos episodes), it’s clear that this film is keepin’ things in the Sopranos family. –Michael Roffman


Dune

Dune First Trailer

Dune (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: October 1st via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Timothee Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Charlotte Rampling, Chang Chen, Stephen Henderson

What To Look For: Everyone wants to see Dune. Ever since it was first announced that Denis Villeneuve would be adapting Frank Herbert’s legendary novel, the hype has been out of this world. Then came the casting. Oh, how they cast the hell out of this thing: Timothee Chalamet, Oscar IsaacRebecca FergusonStellan SkarsgardDave BautistaJavier BardemZendayaJosh BrolinJason Momoa, Charlotte RamplingChang Chen, and Stephen Henderson. So, yeah, we all want to see Dune, we’re all clawing at anything related to Dune, and we all hope Warner Bros. actually drops this in 2021. –Michael Roffman


Eternals

Marvel's The Eternals

Marvel’s Eternals

Release Date: November 5th via Marvel

Who’s In It? Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan, Kit Harington, the newly-ripped Kumail Nanjiani (blame this movie for the muscles).

What To Look For: We’re going to respectfully ask that you place any Marvel exhaustion you might be feeling up on the shelf, just for a moment, and instead think of this as a weird-ass movie directed by a great filmmaker. Focus on the Chloé Zhao of it all, she of The Rider (one of the best films of 2017) and of Nomadland (one of the best films of 2020). Or zero in on the cast (see above) .Or focus on the story, which we don’t know much about, but which will certainly focus on the aptly-named Eternals, an extremely long-living humanoid race that resulted from experiments performed by immensely powerful supernatural beings. It will be beautifully filmed and (at worst) capably acted; it will also be weird as hell. In other words: Bring it on. –Allison Shoemaker


The Matrix 4

The matrix trans allegory lilly wachowski

The Matrix (HBO Max)

Release Date: December 22nd via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, Daniel Bernhardt, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff

What To Look For: Nearly 20 years after the Wachowskis logged off the franchise, The Matrix returns with a mysterious fourth installment. Given the events that went down in 2003’s Revolutions, it’s going to be intriguing to see how things shake down for this chapter. Details are mum, but Keanu Reeves told The BBC that it’s “a love story”, describing it as “inspiring” and “a kind of call to wake up.” Okay, there’s not much there, but does it matter? Red pill: This all boils down to Warner Bros. trying to regenerate a franchise that made ’em billions, money they’ve since left on the table for nearly two decades. Blue pill: More action, more thrills, more effects, and more story with fan favorites Neo and Trinity. Ah, ignorance is bliss. –Michael Roffman


Don’t Look Up

 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Don’t Look Up (Netflix)

Release Date: TBD via Netflix

Who’s In It? Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Himesh Patel, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Matthew Perry, Tomer Sisley, Tyler Perry, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman, Chris Evans

What To Look For: Look at that cast list! ::Joker voice:: LOOK AT IT. With that kind of star power, this could be a smoldering pile of garbage, and we’d still drop everything to watch it. The good news is two-fold: For starters, it’s on Netflix, where it’ll be easily assessible, and therefore, easily discoursed. The second, and more important fact, is that Adam McKay is both writer and director. Like 2015’s The Big Short and 2018’s Vice, Don’t Look Up is a political satire, only of the fictional mode. The gist involves a global disaster in which two astronomers are tasked with warning everyone about an approaching comet. Considering our country’s laissez-faire attitude towards COVID-19, this one should tickle our funny bones in a timely manner. –Michael Roffman


The Harder They Fall

harder they fall 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

The Harder They Think (Netflix)

Release Date: TBD via Netflix

Who’s In It? Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, Regina King

What To Look For: Netflix’s film-a-week slate may be exhausting at first glance, but at least there are some diamonds in the rough, like this Jay Z-produced Black Western co-written and directed by Jeymes Samuel (aka English singer-songwriter The Bullitts). Telling the story of real-life Black outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), The Harder They Fall sees Love reassembling his old gang (including Idris Elba, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, and others) to avenge the death of his parents. –Clint Worthington


Malignant

james wan malignant 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Malignant (HBO Max)

Release Date: TBD via HBO Max

Who’s In It? Annabelle Wallis, Jake Abel, George Young, Maddie Hasson, Michole Briana White, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mckenna Grace.

What To Look For: Writer-producer-director James Wan returns from the ocean depths to direct his first horror feature since 2016’s The Conjuring 2. Though details are scarce, Wan has confirmed that the R-rated thriller will not be based on any existing IP, but namely his graphic novel Malignant Man. Also returning to the fold is Annabelle Wallis, who reunites with the filmmaker seven years after starring in his Wan-iverse production, Annabelle — one of the first branches of the Conjuring cinematic universe. No word yet on whether Malignant will grow another branch, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for Crooked Men and Warrens. –Jenn Adams


O2

o2 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

O2 (Netflix)

Release Date: TBD via Netflix

Who’s In It? Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi

What To Look For: After a few casting upheavals, Mélanie Laurent is set to star as a woman who wakes up in a medical cryo unit with no memory of who she is or how she got there. It’s the perfect conceit for Alexandre Aja, who is no stranger to tense survival horror. Coming off of 2019’s brutally tense gator horror Crawl, Aja appears to be pivoting away from the swamp and towards our lockdown-esque feelings of claustrophobia in the best and most horrific ways. We’ll bite. –Jenn Adams


Red Notice

red notice 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Red Notice (Netflix)

Release Date: TBD via Netflix

Who’s In It? Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds

What To Look For: Maybe the most high-profile of Netflix’s cinematic offerings, Red Notice reunites Dwayne Johnson with writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, Skyscraper) for an A-list action comedy picked up from Universal before the pandemic hit. Johnson plays an INTERPOL agent forced to team up with the world’s greatest art thief (Gadot) and con man (Reynolds), with what is sure to be studio blockbuster-level spectacle to ensue. –Clint Worthington


There’s Someone Inside Your House

Theres Someone Inside Your House 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

There’s Someone Inside Your House (Netflix)

Release Date: TBD via Netflix

Who’s In It? Sydney Park, Theodore Pellerin, Asjha Cooper, Dale Whibley, Jesse LaTourette, Burkely Duffield, Diego Josef, Markian Tarasiuk, Sarah Dugdale

What To Look For: Adapted from the bestselling novel-of-the-same-name by Stephanie Perkins, Patrick Brice‘s latest will follow the graduating class of Osborne High School as they’re stalked by a masked killer bent on exposing their scandalous secrets. While the premise sounds like Scream meets Gossip Girl, the Creep director’s mumblegore background and knack for mixing uncomfortable comedy with realistic dread means we’re likely in for some horrific high school hijinx. After all, secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets secrets kill someone. –Jenn Adams


The Woman In the Window

The Woman in Window Netflix Amy Adams movie stream (Netflix)

The Woman in the Window (Netflix)

Release Date: TBD via Netflix

Who’s In It? Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore

What To Look For: Back in Fall of 2020, Joe Wright’s perpetually delayed thriller The Woman in the Window finally found a home in Netflix. Even now, there’s still no word on a release date, but Netflix has at least confirmed it’s dropping in 2021 — nearly two years after it was expected to originally hit theaters. Nevertheless, the course of events has led to what will likely be a meta watch: Described by Wright as “Rear Window meets Gone Girl,” Amy Adams plays an agoraphobic child psychologist who watches her neighbors from the comforts of her New York suburban home. How prescient. –Michael Roffman


Movies Likely to Be Shuffled Around

The titles below are heavily relying on a theatrical release, and don’t have pre-established ties with digital distribution. Because of this, it’s more than likely that most — if not all — of these titles will be shuffled around throughout the year.


Spiral

50 Anticipated Movies of 2020

Spiral (Lionsgate)

Release Date: May 21st via Lionsgate

Who’s In It? Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson

What To Look For: A ninth Saw movie starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson … from a story by Rock? That’s something you don’t hear every day. Allegedly, Spiral will not be a reboot as previously thought, but a legitimate continuation of the Jigsaw story — complete with Saw sequel stalwart Darren Lynn Bousman returning to direct. Despite the delay, the plot itself is still under wraps, but given Rock’s involvement, we can expect some darkly comic twists along the way. Unless he wants to play it completely straight, in which case we’re doubly interested to see what kind of twisted game he has in store. –Clint Worthington


F9

Fast and Furious 9 F9 fast saga delay 2021 release date coronavirus

F9 (Universal)

Release Date: May 28th via Universal

Who’s In It? Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron

What To Look For: Buckle up, mi familia, another Fast and Furious movie is on its way. After the modest (if muted) success of Fast spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, the franchise is returning to its roots with a Justin Lin-directed entry in the ongoing saga of the Toretto clan. The gang is back — minus The Rock, of course, that Diesel beef has yet to be squashed — including Jordana Brewster, who was last seen retiring with the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner. What circumstances bring her back into the fold, we can’t say; all we know is that joining her is Helen Mirren as Mama Shaw, and Charlize Theron as Fate of the Furious baddie Cipher (who, according to franchise tradition, will probably be a good guy now for some reason). –Clint Worthington


Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun Maverick Postponed Covid-19 December Tom Cruise Coronavirus

Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

Release Date: July 2nd via Paramount

Who’s In It? Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer

What To Look For: If Tom Cruise wants to fly jets, he’s going to fly jets. Such is the case for Top Gun: Maverick, the long-developed, never-asked-for sequel to Tony Scott’s queer classic. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the film sees Cruise’s Maverick training new cadets, including his late pal Goose’s son (Miles Teller). Whether or not we see Mav shed the flight suit for another game of volleyball remains to be seen, but he will be back on that chopper, and in his trademark bomber jacket. We just hope that also means a reprisal of Berlin. Take our breath away, Tom. Take our breath away. –Michael Roffman


Old

M. Night Shyamalan's Old

M. Night Shyamalan

Release Date: July 23rd via Universal

Who’s In It? Gael García Bernal, Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie, Aaron Pierre, Alex Wolff, Vicky Krieps, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Embeth Davidtz, Rufus Sewell

What To Look For: Sure, Glass wasn’t great, but Servant has been phenomenal. In other words, when M. Night Shyamalan has the right source material, he’ll deliver. Old is looking like another hit from the veteran filmmaker. Inspired by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters’ 2010 graphic novel Sandcastle, the story revolves around 13 people who rapidly age on a remote beach. Sounds like an old episode of The Twilight Zone, huh? Exactly. It’s pulpy genre fare that is right in Shyamalan’s wheelhouse, and the ramifications of that situation lead this writer to believe we’re in for some dark, twisty turns. –Michael Roffman


Deep Water

deep water 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Deep Water (20th Century)

Release Date: August 13th via 20th Century

Who’s In It? Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Rachel Blanchard, Lil Rel Howery, Finn Wittrock, Jacob Elordi, Kristen Connolly, Dash Mihok

What To Look For: I feel like I’ve been waiting for Deep Water my whole life. Adrian Lyne’s erotic thriller, which was supposed to come out last November, has already had a significant impact on pop culture (and on me personally). Stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who have spent the past 10 months walking around Los Angeles with Dunkin Donuts together, met and fell in love while shooting. To add even more hype, Deep Water is Lyne’s first film since 2002’s Unfaithful. In other words, the thriller could mark a triumphant return for one of the best film genres, and an interesting career shift for Affleck, who abandoned his sex symbol roots and spent the majority of the last decade directing movies or playing Batman. –Carrie Wittmer


Respect

Respect Teaser Trailer

Respect (MGM)

Release Date: August 13th via MGM

Who’s In It? Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Skye Dakota Turner, Tate Donovan, Mary J. Blige

What To Look For: Jennifer Hudson is playing Aretha Franklin, and the trailer still gives us chills. Look, there’s not much more to be said. It’s a biopic with a genuine singer at the center, and no delay is gonna stop us from wanting to hear Aretha. –Michael Roffman


Candyman

Candyman 2020 teaser trailer

Candyman (Universal)

Release Date: August 27th via Universal

Who’s In It? Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Colman Domingo, along with Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams

What To Look For: Candyman. Candyman. Cand–eh, don’t test it. Out of all the reboots and remakes coming outta Hollywood, we’ve been champing at the bit to reunite with Clive Barker’s man in the mirror — and that was before the delay. Now, we’re ravenous to see what Nia DaCosta has in store for us with her re-imagining, and fortunately, the mystery remains intact. To date, we’ve only seen a short teaser trailer and a gorgeous animated featurette, both of which confirm this isn’t just another cash grab, but a film that has something to say. Wouldn’t that be nice. –Michael Roffman


Jackass 4

Steve-O hospitalized Johnny Knoxville hospital Jackass 4 new movie accident injury treadmill, photo via artist's Facebook

Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O, photo via artist’s Facebook

Release Date: September 3rd via Paramount

Who’s In It? Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Preston Lacy, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey and Dave England.

What To Look For: Directed by Jeff Tremaine and co-written by Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville, the latest installment of the Jackass franchise started filming 20 years after its controversial MTV debut. Once more, the original gang returns for a fresh onslaught of physically destructive stunts that should leave parents sweating everywhere. Stunts that led to the hospitalization of both Knoxville and Steve-O), causing filming to stop two days into production. Not gonna lie: The fact that this aging crew is still willing to put their bodies on the line only adds to the film’s anticipation. –Okla Jones 


Resident Evil

resident evil cast 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Resident Evil (Capcom)

Release Date: September 9th via Screen Gems

Who’s In It? Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Avan Jogia, Hannah John-Kamen, Tom Hopper, Neal McDonough, Donal Logue

What To Look For: It’s only been a few years since Paul W.S. Anderson’s six-part adaptation of the Resident Evil games concluded, a mesmerizing spectacle of schlock that played merry hob with its source material in favor of a multi-film showcase for Milla Jovovich. Now, we’re getting a reboot closer in tone to the haunted-house feel of the early games, with Kaya Scodelario and Robbie Amell as Claire and Chris Redfield. The cast also includes Neal McDonough, Hannah John-Kamen, and Donal Logue, if the filmed-in-Canada-on-a-modest-budget vibes weren’t clear enough. –Clint Worthington


A Quiet Place Part II

A Quiet Place 3 John Krasinski sequel Jeff Nichols Paramount

A Quiet Place II (Paramount)

Release Date: September 17th via Paramount

Who’s In It? Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski

What To Look For: A Quiet Place didn’t need a sequel. The 2018 sci-fi thriller ended beautifully, leaving the fate of the surviving Abbots and the rest of that curious world up to our own imagination. Well, imagination got the best of writer and director John Krasinski because he’s back with a second chapter. This time around, we’re leaving the farmstead and venturing forth into the world, and Emily Blunt is at the front of the charge. Based on the synopsis (and the first trailer from way, way back), it would appear there are more monsters due on this Maple street, and some of them may be from this world. Spooky. –Michael Roffman


No Time to Die

Anticipated Movies of Fall 2020

No Time to Die (MGM)

Release Date: October 8th via MGM

Who’s In It? Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes

What To Look For: In another universe, No Time to Die is already on Blu-ray, and we’re talking about casting a new 007. In this world, though, we’re still anticipating Daniel Craig’s final outing, hoping Cary Fukunaga can bring some of that True Detective magic to the spy franchise, wondering what Phoebe Waller-Bridge added in those rewrites, getting amped for Hans Zimmer’s just-announced score, and tempering our excitement at seeing Craig reunite with his Knives Out co-star Ana de Armas. Yeah, there’s a lot going into this long-awaited followup. By now, it’s become the Fatty Arbuckle of blockbusters. –Michael Roffman


Halloween Kills

halloween kills 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Halloween Kills (Universal)

Release Date: October 15th via Universal

Who’s In It? Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Robert Longstreet, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers

What To Look For: Thanks to COVID-19, there was no trick or treating in Haddonfield, Illinois in 2020. Instead, Blumhouse and Universal postponed their two Halloween sequels to 2021 and 2022. The silver (shamrock) lining to the whole delay is that the studio has agreed to release Halloween Kills on IMAX, which means Michael Myers will return bigger than ever. It’s a warranted move, too, given the scope of this sequel. Without spoiling too much, fans can expect an epic followup to the 2018 blockbuster, chock full of tricks and treats that are very high in sugar and cholesterol. Characters will return, blood will spill, and everyone will be treated to far more than one good scare. To paraphrase the first Loomis, “You must be ready for it.” –Michael Roffman


The Last Duel

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, photo by ABC Eddy Chen via Walt Disney Television The Last Duel Ridley Scott

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, photo by ABC/Eddy Chen via Walt Disney Television

Release Date: October 15th via 20th Century Studios

Who’s In It? Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck

What To Look For: The Last Duel has a lot going for it. For starters, there’s Adam Driver. Then there’s Ridley Scott returning to his historical roots — specifically 14th-century France. But really, the big sell of this period piece is Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Not only are the two Boston brothers reuniting on screen, but they’re also back behind the typewriter — their first such collaboration since writing their Oscar-winning screenplay for 1997’s Good Will Hunting. That’s the sales pitch we’ve been riding on since it was announced way, way back in July 2019, and that’s what’s going to get us into theaters (hopefully) this Fall. –Michael Roffman


Last Night in Soho

50 Anticipated Movies of 2020

Last Night in Soho (Focus Features)

Release Date: October 22nd via Focus

Who’s In It? Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Matt Smith

What To Look For: Edgar Wright knows his way around every genre, but he tends to always have the last laugh. That’s why we’re intrigued by Last Night in Soho, which is being touted as a psychological horror movie. Is this Wright tickling his Lynchian funny bone? Will he leave any room for comedy? Given his macabre influences on the project (Don’t Look Now, Repulsion), we’re expecting something as visceral as Baby Driver, only with chills over thrills. Then again, with 1917 co-screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns offering an assist, it’s hard to imagine this being anything short of a thrill ride. –Michael Roffman


Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Paul Rudd, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Ghostbusters, Vanity Fair

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Columbia)

Release Date: November 11th via Columbia

Who’s In It? Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts

What To Look For: Who ya gonna call? Jason Reitman. The son of OG director Ivan Reitman returns with a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters franchise, and we’re expecting things to get emotional. Based on the trailer that dropped eons ago back in December 2019, Afterlife looks like a Force Awakens-style reboot, only it doesn’t appear that we’re getting a beat for beat remake. No, this is a coming-of-age story set in the rustic confines of Oklahoma, which is a far cry from the Big Apple adventures of the ’80s. Toss in Paul Rudd, some proton accelerators, a few cameos, and we’re back in business. –Michael Roffman


Mission: Impossible 7

tom cruise 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Tom Cruise

Release Date: November 19th via Paramount

Who’s In It? Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett and Frederick Schmidt, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, Esai Morales

What To Look For: Production for the seventh Mission: Impossible film has proven to be just as tough as the titular adventures of Ethan Hunt. Between the start-and-stops due to COVID-19, the Polish bridge backlash, the motorcycle fire in Oxfordshire, and the international controversy that was Maskgate, Cruise has certainly been challenged this go-around. Making matters even more complicated is the fact that filming has yet to wrap, which means another release date bump may be imminent. Of course, this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about, and if we learned anything from his on-set stripdown, it’s that failure is not an option for his “gold standard” production. So, light the fuse and start the countdown to November now. –Michael Roffman


Gucci

Ranking Lady Gaga's "911" Oufits

Lady Gaga

Release Date: November 24th via MGM

Who’s In It? Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jack Huston, Reeve Carney

What To Look For: Everything about Ridley Scott’s Gucci feels like it was curated specifically for me by a generator on the internet or by someone close to me as a joke: a bespoke movie, if you will. Gucci tells the story of Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, who plotted to kill her husband, the grandson of fashion designer Guccio Gucci, from, you, know, Gucci. It stars Adam Driver and Lady Gaga (two of my favorite people on the planet), as well as Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Jack Huston. Gaga is, perhaps, even more suited for this role than she was for her role as Ally in 2018’s A Star Is Born: Gucci is a story that will likely span decades (she transcends time), it’s rooted in the fashion industry which Gaga is obsessed with, and the story itself sounds like the logline for a Gaga music video. –Carrie Wittmer


West Side Story

West Side Story (Fox)

West Side Story (20th Century)

Release Date: December 10th via 20th Century Studios

Who’s In It? Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, Rita Moreno

What To Look For: If there’s one thing we know about Steven Spielberg, the guy loves to chase an Oscar. That’s why we’re fairly confident that audiences will be snapping along to West Side Story before year’s end. That was the plan for Christmas 2020, and given the year-long push, that plans appears to be 100% in tact for Christmas 2021. By then, the theater experience should be an option again — at least, if we’re to follow Fauci’s orders — and it’ll have to be. After all, this is a film that demands the big screen (the original is a staple of 70mm festivals across the world), so a pivot to Disney+ just won’t cut it. –Michael Roffman


The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson The French Dispatch Trailer

The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures)

Release Date: TBD via Searchlight

Who’s In It? Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston

What To Look For: Wes Anderson returns with his first live-action film since 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Described as “a love letter to journalists”, and inspired by Anderson’s affinity for The New Yorker, the 20th century parable will be told across three different storylines published in the eponymous fictional publication. Fans can expect dead-pan dialogue, an army of A-listers (see above), and innumerable references to the French films that have inspired his work a la Indian cinema in The Darjeeling Limited and Japanese cinema in Isle of Dogs. What they can’t expect, at least right now, is where it might drop. Reports suggest it may open this year’s Cannes Film Festival, an honor it was to have in 2020, but as with anything: We’ll see. –Michael Roffman


Soggy Bottom

soggy bottom 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Release Date: TBD via Searchlight

Who’s In It? Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper, Alana Haim, Benny Safdie

What To Look For: Even now, details on Paul Thomas Anderson’s followup to 2017’s Phantom Thread are sparse. What we do know is that it’s set in the ’70s San Fernando Valley, and that it centers around a high school student who becomes a famous child star. Seeing how the ’70s is an era Anderson is all too familiar with, having strut through the years with 1997’s Boogie Nights and 2014’s Inherent Vice, we’re fully expecting another vintage delight. And given the inspired cast — Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son, Baby Haim, and one-half of the Safdie brothers — it’ll at the very least be interesting. –Michael Roffman

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