Hello my friends. While 2020 has been a bit of a wash for movie fans and studios alike (aside from the whole, having to stay inside and watch movies all day – thing), I was pleasantly surprised to hear some positive news this week which also reminded me to finish up this post I have been neglecting. Let’s get into some exciting news and insight about upcoming movies I’m particularly looking forward to in 2021…
It’s no question that 2020 has been a horrible year for movie theaters across the country, with many closed since March/April and those that remained open seeing a steep decline in attendance over previous years. Compounded with this was the probably wise decision on the behalf of the production houses and studios to delay upcoming movie releases into 2021 or indefinitely when they can be more sure they will get attendance. No surprises there from an economics perspective given COVID, but anyone who has been to a movie in the past year knows that there is really no substitute for the atmosphere, quality and full viewing experience of a cinema. Fortunately, we can all share a collective sign of relief that vaccines are near on the horizon (which is damn impressive, no doubt) – meaning good times are (hopefully) ahead for moviegoers.
What’s the news, besides the fact that a vaccine is on the horizon? Warner Brothers Studios announced this afternoon that they will be releasing upcoming films such as “Dune” and “The Matrix 4” in a new format, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, over the coming 12 months. While this still leaves some significant time between now and the following releases, it does mean that we at least have a timeline to look forward to! I expect (but more so hope) other studios to follow a similar path.
Without further ado, let’s get into some of the most exciting releases coming in the new year!
The French Dispatch – Wes Anderson: January 2021
Starting on a high note, I can’t help but be excited for Wes Anderson’s upcoming Dispatch, which has been described as “a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in 20th-century Paris and centers on three storylines.” If you are unfamiliar with Wes’ previous works, I highly encourage you to check out his catalogue, my personal favorites (and I think a good place to start) being: The Fantastic Mr. Fox (10/10), Grand Budapest Hotel (9.5/10), and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (8/10).
Those familiar with Wes’ directorial style will recognize his movies for their unique, almost whimsical flair that is better seen then described. If it had to be characterized, I would call his style one which places a great emphasis on the viewer’s perspective, particularly with his style of visual symmetry, with often quirky, offbeat characters and dialogue that puts you in a state of ease and enjoyment at the same time. His editing is masterful and color choices really bring you into the world he creates. Something I’d equate to eye and ear candy for a viewer. He almost always writes his own films, but regardless it is not hard to tell when Wes’ signature style is in play.
With a cast that includes Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, and Benicio del Toro – this is one that can’t be missed.
Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright: April 2021
Edgar is a well known and respected English director, and you have likely heard of some of his most famous works including the more recent Baby Driver (8.5/10) and 2004’s Sean of The Dead (9.5/10). The upcoming film Last Night in Soho, which is being described as a Drama/Horror/Thriller follows a young girl, passionate about fashion design, who 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. Starring the up-and-coming actresses Anna Taylor-Joy of Queen’s Gambit fame, a show I haven’t completely gotten through myself but have heard rave reviews about, and Thomasin McKensie, who played Elsa in JoJo Rabbit (which I can vouch for was a fantastic performance).
Edgar Wright is another favorite of mine for his ability to combine masterful editing, unique cuts/transitions and dialogue in his dark comedy & action films which I find to be some of the most entertaining ever created in it’s genre, if not for their uniqueness alone. Two of my favorite 20 films are, without a doubt, Hot Fuzz (10/10) and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (10/10) – two movies so clever, hilarious and watchable it’s hard to stop yourself from repeat viewings (if that’s your cup of tea, of course).
I’ll be more than curious to see if the film brings in Wright’s dark humor elements or whether we will be getting a true Horror/Thriller. Either way, I remain VERY excited about this one, and the trailer has it looking deliciously creepy. You love to see it. As a huge horror movie fan and lover of Wright’s craft, this could be the film of 2021 I’m looking forward to the most.
No Time to Die – Cary Joji Fukunaga: April 2021
The final Bond installment of Daniel Craig’s tenure will end with No Time to Die picks up five years after the capture of villain Blofeld, where James Bond has left active service. He is enlisted by Felix Leiter, his friend in the CIA, to help search for Valdo Obruchev, a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that Obruchev has been abducted, Bond must confront a villain whose schemes could see the deaths of millions. That villain will be portrayed by none other than Rami Malek, fresh off an Oscar win for his portrayal of the incomparable Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (7/10).
The film has had several delays and push backs, a continuing trend for these blockbuster-type films, but we can hope to watch Craig kick some ass one final time as soon as April of 2021. I’ve covered this film (and my thoughts on Bond films in general) previously in one of my first posts on this page, which you can view here.
Fun thing I just learned that should be exciting to some: Director Fukunaga also directed all 3 seasons of True Detective. Here’s hoping that same Season 1 vibe carries over a bit here.
Mission: Impossible 7 – Christopher McQuarrie: November 2021
The seventh installment of the Mission: Impossible series is slated to come out late next year, and will bring our favorite band of agents (Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) as they attempt to save the world in some way or another again for our entertainment. While I don’t have any significant details on the plot for this one just yet, I think we can expect to start seeing trailers coming early next year or once we hit the 6m out mark.
I know these films aren’t for everyone, but hear me out. The intention was never to make these the most hyper-realistic, believable action films. The point was to provide ~2 hours of James-Bond-style mayhem minus some suave and add some intense stunts here and there. Corny lines are obligatory, combat is expected, and you’re sure to see Cruise do something miraculous (which he probably actually did). What these films lack in realism they make up for in excitement and watchability.
I’ve been following Ethan Hunt for 6 movies thus far, and although they are often far from reality they are most definitely some of the best adrenaline-fueled action films that have been put to screen since 1996. I’ll look forward to sitting down with some popcorn and turning my brain off for a few hours for this one just the same.
Babylon – Damien Chazelle: Christmas 2021
Damien Chazelle’s a young American director and screenwriter from Providence, Rhode Island (representing our college down most admirably) whose short but impressive body of work includes the incredible La La Land (10/10) and Whiplash (10/10). While details surrounding Babylon are limited to say the least, what we have been told is that it will be a period piece that will take place “during the transition from silent films to talkies and will feature a mix of real-life and fictional characters, similar to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.'” (Link).
Brad Pitt will Co-Star along side who was originally scheduled to be Emma Stone. As of a few days ago, it now looks like Margot Robbie is in early talks to replace Emma Stone in Damien Chazelle’s period drama after Stone exited the film due to scheduling issues. If you’re going to have a trade-off, this isn’t too bad – and it would be great to see Pitt and Robbie share the screen as they did recently in Tarantino’s Hollywood.
It’s exciting to see young, fresh directors like Chazelle, Aster, Eggers, Coogler, etc. hitting the scene with authority and I look forward to seeing everything they produce in the coming year(s). Given Chazelle’s recent track record, I’d expect this to be an Oscar subject for many. I will let you guys know as soon as I get any updates!
Dune – Denis Villeneuve: October 2021
One of the most anticipated films of 2020, certainly in the action/sci-fi category, was the on-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science-fiction epic, Dune. We were recently informed that although it was originally slated for this December, Dune has been moved into late 2021.
I feel supremely unqualified to speak about the hype surrounding this one as I have still not (despite being told by many, many people to do so) read completely through this monster of a book yet. What I can say is Herbert’s classic novel has a reverence in the Sci-Fi community that is largely unparalleled, and a cult following to match its awesomeness. One of the reasons for this recognition is what we call Dune’s masterful world building, or ability to create a setting / environment for the story which brings you deep into its lore and forces you to slow down and pay attention to every little detail. More than anything, I will be curious to see how the supremely qualified Villeneuve, whose resume includes Arrival (9/10), Sicario (9/10), and Blade Runner 2049 (9.5/10), will build this world in all its gritty detail.
I think if anyone were up to this task of building and immersing the viewer in this visual adaptation, it would have to be Villenueve. I’m thinking particularly with regards to Blade Runner 2049, which was one of the most atmospheric, textured and well-made sci-fi films in recent memory. When I think about this movie, I am brought back to the futuristic, desolate landscape of Earth that he so well adapted from the screenplay, even when tasked with following up one of the most highly-regarded sci-fi films of ALL TIME with 1982’s Blade Runner (9.5/10) and not only paying homage to the lore but avoiding falling in the large footsteps of its predecessor. Villenueve clearly has a capacity for the genre unlike most and I have no doubt he will do well with this piece as well. Get excited!
The Matrix 4 (title TBD) – Lana Wachowski: December 2021
Let’s be honest, the second and third Matrix films were hot garbage compared to the first. They had action, excitement – yes, but they lacked uniqueness and substance that made The Matrix (9/10) original film so groundbreaking. Nonetheless, with #4 on the way it is more than anything my genuine curiosity about where in God’s name they are going to go with the story at this point that will bring me to the theater (hopefully) next December. While Revolutions (4/10) was bad, it did pretty much wrap things up from a plot perspective, so I’ll definitely be interested to see what tricks they have up their sleeve. Plus, I think we all can enjoy a little Keanu ass-kicking here and there.
Lana Wachowski is set to write, direct, and produce the film. Wachowski since then also co-wrote the screenplays for Cloud Atlas (9/10) and V for Vendetta (8/10).
I should also note that there are a ton of superhero films and/or sequels coming up, but none of which I am more excited for than The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson who will face off against the Riddler. I’ve been dying to see a modern adaptation of this villain, and here’s hoping Pattinson can put his own unique spin on the series that Bale currently holds the title for (and realistically, should never relinquish). The date on this just got pushed to 2022, I believe – so plenty more to come on this guy…
This is all for now, but will continue to update this over the coming months. Many thanks to all of you. As always, please feel free to send along any news / commentary / insights related to anything posted here or anything coming in 2021. I have no doubt these dates will be changing a bit!
If you are curious about additional upcoming releases, I encourage you to check out Rotten Tomato’s 69 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021 that no joke was written (or at least updated) while I was putting this post together. Neat!