Let’s see what the first half of 2021 potentially has in store for movie lovers.
Hope springs eternal, so let’s hope Hollywood has a much better new year. Since we’re still in the grips of a deadly pandemic, almost all of those release dates are probably up in the air*, at least until we get into late spring and early summer. With that caveat, let’s take a look at what’s on the schedule and see which movies will have us contemplating a trip to the cinema.
*Wouldn’t you know it! Between writing this article and posting it, the dates for nearly half of these movies have been bumped, either moved into second-half 2021 or early 2022. Oh well, my impressions of them still stand.
Most Anticipated 2021, Pt 1.
The Little Things (Jan. 29)
Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt, L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.
It’s been a minute since Denzel did a thriller, but pretty much every one he’s done has been rock solid. My real issue is how Rami Malek plays a character who’s not in some way other-worldly. Jared Leto is pretty much a coin flip. Still, love me a good “catch a killer” thriller.
Little Fish (Feb. 5)
As a memory loss virus runs rampant, one couple fights to hold their relationship together before the disease can erase all memory of their love in this sweeping sci-fi romance.
Intriguing sci-fi with a relatively unknown cast? I’m almost always down for that.
Nomadland (Feb. 19)
Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.
This film is starting to be the odds on favorite to win an Oscar. I think Frances will be facing off against Viola for best actress, and probably best picture against Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Chaos Walking (Mar. 5)
In the not too distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious girl who crash lands on his planet, where all the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by “the Noise” – a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened – and as Todd vows to protect her, he will have to discover his own inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.
This film has a nice hook in the premise, and a smart director can make a lot of hay. Doug Liman has made some fun sci-fi with Edge of Tomorrow…of course he also made Jumper. Interesting to see how Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland do outside their big franchises.
No Time to Die (Apr. 2)
In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
The (no really we mean it) last Daniel Craig Bond! Here, I totally expect Rami Malek to be in his wheelhouse as Bond’s latest super villain. Of course, this movie would have to ever come out for me to enjoy it!
A Quiet Place Pt. 2 (Apr. 23)
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
Part prequel and part sequel, hopefully A Quiet Place II stays as tense and sharp as the original, instead of getting sequel sydrome and throwing a billion aliens at the screen.
Black Widow (May 7)
At birth the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is given to the KGB, which grooms her to become its ultimate operative. When the U.S.S.R. breaks up, the government tries to kill her as the action moves to present-day New York, where she is a freelance operative.
Another film that feels like it will never arrive, I’m starting to run out of hype for Black Widow…just a little. Still, the action looks great and I like the bits of humor the worked in to keep this from feeling like Marvel’s La Femme Nikita.
Free Guy (May 21)
In Twentieth Century Studios’ epic adventure-comedy “Free Guy,” a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way…before it is too late.
Ryan Reynolds breaks the fourth wall while being a badass? Sounds like an unproven formula, let’s see how it plays out…
Ghostbusters – Afterlife (Jun. 11)
When a single mother and her two children move to a new town, they soon discover that they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters and their grandfather’s secret legacy.
Being in the minority of folks who didn’t hate the last Ghostbusters film, I’m hopeful for this entry. I still think the sequels are unneeded, but something about the palette and pacing of the trailer makes me hopeful that this will be something actually new and different.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Jun. 25)
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and the Venom symbiote face their ultimate test: another symbiote, in the hands of a sadistic killer (Woody Harrelson.)
Um. Yeah. I needed a tenth film. The first Venom was a surprise hit, though I can’t say it was really good. I’m pretty much here for Woody chewing the hell out of the scenery as the scene stealing villain, Carnage. This is pinging my “so bad, it’s good” radar pretty hard.
Bonus Picks: No Trailers Yet.
Vivo (Jun. 4)
Vivo, Sony Pictures Animation’s first-ever musical adventure featuring all-new original songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, will take audiences on an epic adventure to gorgeous and vibrant locations never before seen in animation.
Another project with very little info…but Lin-Manuel Miranda has been rolling strikes like a bronzed god, so I’m intrigued.
Godzilla Vs. Kong (May 21)
Um…the title says it all?
It’s a fire-breathing lizard vs a giant monkey. Did you think I wasn’t going to be unreasonably hyped for this!?
Last Night in Soho (Apr. 23)
A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.
Not a lot of info available, but Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End, Baby Drive, etc!) at the helm with Anya Taylor-Joy, Diana Rigg, and Terrence Stamp in the cast list? This looks like a winner.
Bob’s Burgers: The Movie (Apr. 9)
The further adventures of hamburger restaurateur Bob Belcher and his quirky family.
Bob’s Burgers is one of those animated shows you don’t suspect you’ll like until it becomes your favorite show. I’m totally here for a movie.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Mar. 19)
Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalized version of Nicolas Cage must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a super fan. When things take a wildly dangerous turn, Cage is forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones.
The Nicolas Cage train just keeps rolling. Despite Jiu Jitsu being a bit of a mess, he’s put out a lot of unexpected gems lately. I’m down for the continuing meta-aware adventures of Mr. Cage.