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65 Movies We Can’t Wait to See in 2021

In fact, we couldn’t wait to see a lot of them last year. But here we still are.

Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Photos by A24, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Photos by A24, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.

As 2020 neared its end — a year of Hollywood asterisks and movie-release delays and anticlimactic couch premieres and exhausted industry shrugs — a handful of movies quietly made themselves available … sort of. Chloé Zhao’s devastating Nomadland debuted in extremely limited digital release in early December. Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical Minari was temporarily unleashed into select American theaters a week later. The Anthony Hopkins–led dementia drama The Father technically premiered a week after that, though it’s frankly impossible to determine where. We’re told the charming little documentary about a group of rare-fungus-obsessed men, The Truffle Hunters, came out for a minute at some point, but did you see it?

These four bows were more like gestures for certain awards-granting bodies, which are tasked with doling out accolades to the movies that managed to hang on to a release date in the calendar year of COVID. They will all receive wide(r) releases in 2021, making the next stretch of 365 days feel even more like a grueling extension of the 365 before it. A vaccine has arrived and proved perilously difficult to distribute; there is hope, but it has abated (which we’ve become accustomed to in a pandemic). Things will change, we’re told, but also things will largely stay the same. The movies of last year, for example — the Nomadlands as well as the bigger-budget projects we celebrated a January ago and heard little from again, your French Dispatches and Dunes and West Side Storys — are the movies of this year, too. Are we anticipating them? Well, we’ve been anticipating them. We’ve been anticipating a lot of things.

But tradition is tradition. It’s the first week of the first month of another year, and duty dictates that we be excited about a whole new slate of upcoming cinema. Here are the 65 movies we can’t believe are actually coming out wait to see in 2021.

Note: We have not included films that were released, however narrowly, in 2020 and are planning to rerelease in 2021, though you should very much still consider seeing those films.

January

Acasa, My Home

A huge, poor Romanian family that has lived off the grid for years in the wilderness of a massive nature preserve smack-dab in the heart of Bucharest faces off against the authorities, who want its members to give up their land and incorporate themselves into modern society. It’s not a fanciful dystopian drama; it’s a remarkable documentary — lyrical, riveting, complex — that looks at the many paradoxes of home, family, freedom, and community. One of the standouts from last year’s Sundance, Radu Ciorniciuc’s film is finally getting its U.S. release. (In theaters and virtual cinemas January 15.)

Identifying Features

Fernanda Valadez’s stark drama about a mother looking for her missing son who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border has already garnered a number of awards and nominations. It’s one of several powerful films about immigration to come out of Mexico in recent years. It’s also, quite possibly, the most despairing. (On the Kino Marquee platform January 22.)

Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time

Hungary’s Oscar submission, directed by Lili Horvát, is a noir-tinged psychological thriller with an irresistible premise: A brilliant neurosurgeon (Natasa Stork) moves back to Budapest after two decades in the U.S. because of a romantic connection with another doctor — only to find, when she gets there, that her supposed lover claims never to have met her, leaving her to try to figure out if she invented the entire affair in her mind. (In theaters and virtual cinemas January 22.)

The White Tiger

Back in January 2020, we praised the impending arrival of an adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize–winning story about a young man who rises from poverty in his village to become a successful entrepreneur through a combination of murder, bribery, and rapacious ambition. “It’s thrilling to think about what Ramin Bahrani, who’s devoted his filmmaking career to characters trying to avoid getting crushed by global capitalism, will do with this material,” we wrote. His adaptation stars Priyanka Chopra, Adarsh Gourav, and Rajkummar Rao. (On Netflix January 22.)

Supernova

Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci are a longtime couple who embark on one last trip together across England in a camper van after Tucci’s character is diagnosed with early-onset dementia — stop, stop, we’re already crying. (In theaters January 29.)

Saint Maud

The A24 horror release we’ve been waiting for from Rose Glass has already garnered acclaim at festivals, and the premise — a hospice nurse tries to save her former dancer patient’s soul — promises both supernatural chills and metaphysical unease. (In theaters January 29.)

Passing

Starring Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, and Alexander Skarsgård and helmed by Rebecca Hall (making her feature-directing debut), this long-awaited adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel about two friends — one of whom passes as a white woman and is married to a racist white man — is one of the more intriguing titles at this year’s Sundance and will surely launch a million takes. (Premieres January 30 at the Sundance Film Festival.)

The Sparks Brothers

It’s kind of incredible to think that the band Sparks has been around since the 1960s. Indeed, it’s incredible to think it’s been the same band, with the constantly changing array of styles and postures that have kept it relevant and endeared it to a wide range of fans through different decades and movements. One doesn’t immediately think of Edgar Wright as a rock-doc kind of guy, but his playful, eclectic approach suggests he may be an ideal chronicler of the band and the two brothers who have been its backbone since the beginning. (Premieres January 30 at the Sundance Film Festival.)

Other Anticipated Films:

Pieces of a Woman (On Netflix January 7)
Locked Down (On HBO Max January 14)
MLK/FBI (In theaters January 15)
The Dig (In theaters January 15 and on Netflix January 29)
Some Kind of Heaven (In theaters January 15)
Our Friend (In theaters and on demand January 22)
The Little Things (In theaters and on HBO Max January 29)
Palmer (On Apple TV+ January 29)
Prisoners of the Ghostland (Premieres January 31 at the Sundance Film Festival)

February

A Glitch in the Matrix

2020, a.k.a. the Weirdest Year in Modern History, proved quite a rebuke to those dwindling few of us who believe we are not living inside a simulation. Now Rodney Ascher, director of the Shining-conspiracy-theories classic Room 237, takes a look at those individuals who are convinced that modern life is just a Matrix-style illusion. (In theaters and on demand February 5.)

Malcolm & Marie

We’ve been gearing up for the release of Malcolm & Marie since at least August, when we included it in our list of anticipated fall 2020 movies. The gist: Sam Levinson spent quarantine making a drama with John David Washington and Zendaya, and while it certainly has managed to get people talking, it still remains to be seen what they will actually say about it. (On Netflix February 5.)

Judas and the Black Messiah

A late Oscar aspirant taking advantage of the pandemic-extended qualifying window, this biographical drama from Newlyweeds director Shaka King and producer Ryan Coogler focuses on informant William O’Neal’s role in aiding the FBI in investigating and ultimately killing Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton. With LaKeith Stanfield playing O’Neal and Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton, Judas and the Black Messiah has attracted some buzz about its performances — helped along by a terrific trailer. (In theaters and on HBO Max February 12.)

The Mauritanian

The legal thriller has been making a welcome comeback of late, and this one, based on the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim), a decade-plus Guantánamo Bay detainee whose case became a shocking example of U.S. government overreach in the wake of 9/11, is particularly promising. Jodie Foster, Shailene Woodley, and Benedict Cumberbatch play the lawyers. Ordinarily, a February release date would be a warning sign, but this year it simply means it could make a late play for some Oscars. (In theaters February 19.)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Andra Day plays Billie Holiday in this Lee Daniels biopic co-starring Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. It could be Hulu’s late-in-the-game awards-season contender alongside 2020 titles like Palm Springs and I Am Greta. (On Hulu in February, date TBD.)

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

A new Spongebob movie was one of the many things the pandemic deprived us of in 2020 — at least, in the US. This one opened theatrically in Canada last year, and globally via Netflix, and received positive reviews. (On CBS All Access and on demand in February, date TBD.)

Other Anticipated Films:

Earwig and the Witch (On HBO Max February 3)
Falling (In theaters February 5)
Little Fish (In theaters February 5)
Breaking News in Yuba County (In theaters February 12)
French Exit (In theaters February 12)
Land (In theaters February 12)
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (In theaters February 12)
The World to Come (In theaters February 12)
I Care a Lot (On Netflix February 19)
Joe Bell (In theaters February 19)
The Killing of Two Lovers (In theaters February 23)
Nobody (In theaters February 26)
My Zoe (In theaters February 26)
Tom & Jerry (In theaters and on HBO Max February 26)
Cherry (In theaters February 26 and on Apple TV+ March 12)
The Vigil (In theaters February 26)
To All the Boys: Always and Forever (On Netflix in February, date TBD)

March

Boogie

Restaurateur and writer Eddie Huang has had a tumultuous relationship with film and television. As a Cooking Channel, Viceland, and MTV host, he made himself more famous than his food. But when his memoir became the basis of the sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, he was outspoken about how ill served he felt his story had been by the adaptation. Now Huang’s giving filmmaking a try with his directorial debut, Boogie, which he also wrote and which stars newcomer Taylor Takahashi as a Queens basketball phenom trying to balance what his parents want with his dreams of playing in the NBA. A bittersweet asterisk: The film features the late Pop Smoke in his only acting role. (In theaters March 5.)

Coming 2 America

This sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 1988 comedy hit was long delayed when we celebrated it back in January 2020. The pandemic has seemingly only heightened the expectations around Murphy’s supposed comeback. (On Prime Video March 5.)

Other Anticipated Films:

Moxie (On Netflix March 3)
Chaos Walking (In theaters March 5)
Raya and the Last Dragon (On Disney+ March 5)
Yes Day (On Netflix March 12)

April

A Quiet Place Part II

“Nobody was more surprised than we were when John Krasinski’s ingeniously contrived dystopian 2018 thriller turned out to be a bona fide smash,” we cheerily noted in January 2020. “Can lightning strike again?” Perhaps Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou, two of our most gifted physical performers, can help ensure that a movie with (we’re assuming/hoping) relatively little dialogue hits as hard this time around. (In theaters April 23.)

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright (him again!) is a master of the mash-up. His ability to blend wildly diverse genres and subgenres has served him well in films like the apocalyptic-nostalgic boys-being-boys buddy comedy The World’s End, the video-game action–rom-com Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the gonzo-pastoral buddy-action spoof but also actually solid buddy-action flick Hot Fuzz. Here we’ve got a time-traveling psychological fashion thriller (and maybe … musical?) starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie. It also features the final performance of the great Diana Rigg. (In theaters April 23.)

Other Anticipated Movies:

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (In theaters April 2)
Mortal Kombat (In theaters and on HBO Max April 16)
Reminiscence (In theaters and on HBO Max April 16)
Bios (In theaters April 16)

May

Black Widow

Remember Avengers: Endgame? Remember how it killed off Black Widow?Marvel barely does, and neither should you! Instead, jump back in time to experience the story of the former KGB assassin, played by Scarlett Johansson, alongside a fellow Red Room trainee, played by Florence Pugh. (In theaters May 7.)

Fast & Furious 9

What was supposed to be one of 2020’s tentpoles is now one of 2021’s. Could this one actually be good? The previous entry (F8 of the Furious? Is that really what we called it?) might have been a disaster, but the F&F films were on a solid run prior to that, and returning director Justin Lin (responsible for the series’ third through sixth entries — yes, he did Tokyo Drift) has arguably been one of the biggest contributors to the franchise’s resurgence. Also, somehow, Han has returned. Vroom vroom. (In theaters May 28.)

More Anticipated Films:

Marry Me (In theaters May 14)
Rumble (In theaters May 14)
Free Guy (In theaters May 21)
Godzilla vs. Kong (In theaters and on HBO Max May 21)
Spiral: From the Book of Saw (In theaters May 21)
5-25-77 (In theaters and on demand May 25)
Cruella (In theaters May 28)
Infinite (In theaters May 28)

June

In the Heights

What was supposed to be the summer of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights became in 2020 the summer of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: The Movie. Hopefully, 2021 will play out differently and Disney+ won’t have to press the big red button on another streaming miracle. With this movie under the direction of Jon M. Chu, we have high hopes for the musical numbers here. (In theaters and on HBO Max June 18.)

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

The first Venom was a superhero movie by way of a deranged buddy comedy that featured Michelle Williams saying, with a sincerity worthy of at least a Golden Globe, “Hey … I’m sorry about Venom.” Why expect the sequel to be any different? Tom Hardy will be back and muttering as Eddie Brock and his alien bestie, Venom. Williams returns too as the former third wheel in this weird relationship. Woody Harrelson’s onboard as villainous fellow symbiote host Cletus Kasady, and performance-capture master Andy Serkis is directing, because why not. Also, it’s called Let There Be Carnage — who can argue with that? (In theaters June 25.)

Zola

From an outrageous viral Twitter thread in 2015 to a major motion picture (sans, as originally intended, James Franco). We’re still anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lemon director Janicza Bravo’s A24 movie (she wrote the script with Slave Play’s Jeremy O. Harris), starring Taylour Paige and Riley Keough, long after its much-celebrated Sundance premiere approximately one century ago. (In theaters June 30.)

More Anticipated Films:

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (In theaters and on HBO Max June 4)
Samaritan (In theaters June 4)
Vivo (In theaters June 4)
Luca (In theaters June 18)
Blue Bayou (In theaters June 25)

July

Top Gun: Maverick

No, nobody needed a Top Gun sequel. And yet, as we anticipated at the beginning of last year, this could turn out to be amazing. Or not! (In theaters July 2.)

The Forever Purge

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: No Purge movie has been uninteresting so far. And this one has a title now! A vote of confidence in its ability to actually release in 2021. (In theaters July 9.)

Space Jam 2: A New Legacy

The first Space Jam wasn’t a particularly good movie, at least not for anyone over the age of 12. But there are a couple of reasons to be hopeful for this one: (1) LeBron James may not be a better player than Michael Jordan [ducks], but he is certainly a better actor than Jordan, small sample size notwithstanding, and (2) Malcolm D. Lee is a better director than Joe Pytka [does not duck, stands proudly in the blinding light of rightness]. One potential cause for concern: The original director, Terence Nance, who was replaced during production because of creative differences, is a genuine visionary, and we may find ourselves forever wondering what his take on this might have been. (In theaters and on HBO Max July 16.)

Jungle Cruise

There’s generally very little reason to get excited about movies based on Disney theme-park rides, but this one is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the gonzo B-movie schlockmeister of The Shallows, Orphan, and most of Liam Neeson’s better late-career action films. This all suggests that this one may be darker and more intense than expected. Also Emily Blunt, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamati rarely steer us wrong. (In theaters July 30.)

The Green Knight

The pandemic broke up Dev Patel’s 2020 period-piece double feature, but while The Personal History of David Copperfield may have come and gone, The Green Knight is still in the wings. The latest from The Old Man & the Gun filmmaker David Lowery, this film is a stylized take on the Arthurian legend, with Patel playing Sir Gawain, a knight who has an encounter with a mysterious green giant (Ralph Ineson) intent on striking a perilous bargain. (In theaters July 30.)

More Anticipated Films:

Minions: The Rise of Gru (In theaters July 2)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (In theaters July 9)
Cinderella (In theaters July 16)
The Night House (In theaters July 16)
Uncharted (In theaters July 16)
Dog (In theaters July 16)
Old (In theaters July 23)
The Tomorrow War (In theaters July 23)

August

Deep Water

Let’s just revisit our 2020 blurb for Deep Water in full: “Adrian Lyne, cinema’s foremost chronicler of sexy infidelity and its inevitably horrifying consequences, has been off the radar since 2002’s Unfaithful, but his interests don’t seem to have shifted in the intervening years. His new film, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as a married couple whose fraught open relationship seems to lead to the deaths of those who get involved with them and is poised to bring eroticism and stern moralizing back to the multiplex”!!! (In theaters August 13.)

The Beatles: Get Back

Peter Jackson can sometimes lose himself in the nerdier technological aspects of his productions, but advance glimpses of his latest — crafted from footage of the Beatles’ recording sessions for Let It Be, originally filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg — have looked genuinely special. The only reason to be wary is if this one is successful, Jackson may be inspired to do a massively bloated, epic live-action trilogy based on Yellow Submarine. (In theaters August 27.)

Candyman

Nia DaCosta’s Jordan Peele–produced reboot sequel to the 1992 Clive Barker–Bernard Rose classic was so close to coming out in 2020. At least we don’t have to wait until Halloween to see it. (In theaters August 27.)

More Anticipated Films:

Hotel Transylvania 4 (In theaters August 6)
The Suicide Squad (In theaters and on HBO Max August 6)
Don’t Breathe 2 (In theaters August 13)
Respect (In theaters August 13)
Untitled Blumhouse Productions Project (In theaters August 13)
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (In theaters August 20)
The King’s Man (In theaters August 20)

September

Jackass 4

There has never been a bad Jackass movie. And there never will be. (In theaters September 3.)

Death on the Nile

Kenneth Branagh is back with another Hercule Poirot mystery, this time with a promisingly unpredictable cast including Gal Gadot, Russell Brand, and Letitia Wright. (In theaters September 17.)

The Many Saints of Newark

Prequels rarely tend to be worth your while, we wrote in January 2020, but David Chase, the man behind one of the greatest fuck-you endings of all time, may be less prone to fan service than any other writer in the industry. If he feels he has another Sopranos story to tell and has his regular collaborator Alan Taylor onboard to direct (and James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, playing the young Tony), we can accept that. (In theaters and on HBO Max September 24.)

More Anticipated Films:

Resident Evil (In theaters September 9)
The Bad Guys (In theaters September 17)
The Man From Toronto (In theaters September 17)
The Boss Baby: Family Business (In theaters September 17)
Untitled Universal Event Film (In theaters September 24)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (In theaters September 24)

October

Dune

What can we say about Dune that we haven’t already said? In January 2020, we fondly remembered how David Lynch’s version crashed and burned in theaters and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version passed into legend without a single frame being shot, and we prepared ourselves for the decidedly less idiosyncratic though still quite talented Denis Villeneuve to take on Frank Herbert’s legendary sci-fi novel — presumably with the same kinds of groundbreaking special effects and visual splendor that he brought to his Blade Runner sequel. We are still pulling for him. (In theaters and on HBO Max October 1.)

No Time to Die

Cary Fukunaga’s Bond movie — which we’re told is likely Daniel Craig’s last go at the character — was one of the first films to depart the 2020 calendar amid an escalating pandemic. A year after its initial release date, it’s back on track. (In theaters October 8.)

Antlers

Director Scott Cooper (of HostilesBlack MassCrazy Heart, and Out of the Furnace acclaim), plus Guillermo del Toro in the producer’s seat, and featuring small-town teacher Keri Russell and her sheriff brother, Jesse Plemons? Sold. (In theaters October 29.)

More Anticipated Films:

Morbius (In theaters October 8)
Halloween Kills (In theaters October 15)
The Last Duel (In theaters October 15)
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (In theaters October 22)
Ron’s Gone Wrong (In theaters October 22)

November

Elvis

There are probably some joyless, dead-inside types out there who find the prospect of Baz Luhrmann taking on Elvis an unbearably over-the-top pairing of auteur and subject. But what everyone else needs to know is that Austin Butler will play the King; Tom Hanks will play Presley’s Svengali, Colonel Tom Parker; and Luhrmann’s creative and life partner Catherine Martin will be the costume and production designer (as well as a producer), doubtless making sure everything looks as opulent as possible. (In theaters and on HBO Max November 5.)

Eternals

Nomadland director Chloé Zhao, who also helmed The Rider (a.k.a. the best film of 2018), will premiere a new Marvel movie in 2021. We’ve already noted that the trend of handing indie up-and-comers (and even some indie also-rans) mega-tentpole properties is nothing new anymore, but the idea of Zhao’s evocative, generous, improvisatory style being put into the service of a hyper-previsualized comic-book franchise is … well, it’s still exciting, intriguing, and terrifying. (In theaters November 5.)

Mission: Impossible 7

Tom Cruise’s viral (lol) COVID rant aside, the Mission: Impossibles remain some of the most reliably thrilling, gorgeously made blockbusters around, and there’s no reason to believe this seventh installment will diverge from that pattern, especially with Christopher McQuarrie back to direct what will be his third film in the franchise. (In theaters November 19.)

More Anticipated Films:

Clifford the Big Red Dog (In theaters November 5)
Spider-Man 3 (In theaters November 5)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (In theaters November 11)
King Richard (In theaters and on HBO Max November 19)
Encanto (In theaters November 24)
Gucci (In theaters November 24)

December

Nightmare Alley

It’s been three years since The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s saltwater-tinged Best Picture winner, and while he has hardly been idle in that time, having turned his attention to animated TV projects like Trollhunters and 3Below, 2021 looks to be a busy year for the director on the big screen. In addition to his long-in-the-works stop-motion Pinocchio, del Toro is likely to bring out the psychological thriller Nightmare Alley, based on William Lindsay Gresham’s pulpy 1946 novel about the rise and fall of a man working at a disreputable carnival. The cast is an embarrassment of riches with Bradley Cooper as the ambitious carny, Cate Blanchett as a manipulative psychiatrist, and Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, and Rooney Mara also appearing. (In theaters December 3.)

West Side Story

We’ll once again defer to the blurb we wrote in January 2020 for a movie we’ve been anticipating for eons now: “Steven Spielberg’s filmography has enough great musical scenes (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or 1941) that many of us have been wondering what an actual Spielberg musical might look like. Well, we’re about to find out.” (In theaters December 10.)

The Matrix 4

For years, the Wachowskis vowed not to return to the Matrix franchise. And to be fair, their work in the past decade and a half has been so distinctive, so progressively personal and weird, that this seemed like the rare directorial we’re-never-doing-that-again promise that might actually be kept. Then came the surprise announcement in 2019 that Lana Wachowski (sans Lilly) was reteaming with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss for a fourth installment. Is it an emergency cash infusion or one from the heart? Either way, let’s hope it’s better than the Matrices Reloaded and Revolutions. (In theaters and on HBO Max December 22.)

More Anticipated Films:

Cyrano (In theaters December 10)
The Nightingale (In theaters December 22)
Sing 2 (In theaters December 22)
Sherlock Holmes 3 (In theaters December 22)

Films That Should, or Could, Come Out in 2021:

Soggy Bottom

Here’s what we know about the new Paul Thomas Anderson film: It’s a coming-of-age drama that takes place in the ’70s in the San Fernando Valley. It stars Bradley Cooper, Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman (son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Benny Safdie. And shooting reportedly wrapped in November, meaning that while there’s no confirmation yet that the film will be coming out in 2021, it definitely seems like it could. And really should, because … this weary, heartsore world needs it. (Release date TBD.)

The Card Counter

Last spring, as the pandemic shut down film productions left and right, Paul Schrader found himself in hot water when he took to social media to loudly bemoan the fact that the shoot on his latest had been suspended just a few days before it was due to wrap. But his concern was somewhat understandable: The director is in the midst of a late-career resurgence (with films like Dog Eat Dog and First Reformed to his credit), and he knows the Schradersance won’t last forever. Now thankfully completed, this gambling drama starring Oscar Isaac looks to continue Schrader’s recent run. (Release date TBD.)

The French Dispatch

“Look, it’s Wes Anderson,” we wrote in January 2020. “It’s ‘a love letter to journalists.’ It’s set in a fictional French city. It stars Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Timothée Chalamet, Benicio del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, Léa Seydoux, and approximately a thousand other actors we love.” Of course, it’s still on this list. (Release date TBD.)

Blonde

Some of us still believe in Andrew Dominik. The New Zealand–born director exploded onto the scene with 2000’s Chopper, delivered a masterpiece with 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, flopped mightily (but fascinatingly) with 2012’s Killing Them Softly, and hasn’t made a feature narrative since. This time, he’s adapting Joyce Carol Oates’s novel about Marilyn Monroe, with Ana de Armas in the title role. Fans hoped Blonde would be just one of the titles in the actress’s breakthrough 2020. Regardless of what it does for her as a stahhh, it’s the most intriguing project on her upcoming slate. (Release date TBD.)

Pinocchio

There was already one surprisingly good Pinocchio last year — Italian director Matteo Garrone’s live-action version was a big hit in its home country, though it had a less high-profile release in the U.S. — and now comes another one, which would ordinarily be cause for alarm. But this is a stop-motion animated take on the classic, and it’s co-directed by Guillermo del Toro, who has been trying to make it for well over a decade. Del Toro’s sensibility may be just right to capture the utterly twisted qualities of Carlo Collodi’s original tale. And Netflix is producing, so you know he’s not getting any studio interference. Expect something demented. (Release date TBD.)

Bergman Island

Mia Hansen-Løve is one of the greatest directors working today. Bergman Island, which has been described as semi-autobiographical (and could be about Hansen-Løve’s relationship with the director Olivier Assayas), stars Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie as filmmakers and romantic partners who travel to remote Fårö island, where Ingmar Bergman lived, to write their respective next screenplays. (Release date TBD.)

The Northman

For his third feature, Robert Eggers — the filmmaker behind such historically detailed delights as The Witch and The Lighthouse — has made a light romantic comedy set on the Las Vegas Strip. Jk! The Northman is totally a revenge tale taking place in 10th-century Iceland, with Alexander Skarsgård playing the Nordic prince Amleth, the inspiration for Hamlet. In other intriguing casting news, Nicole Kidman is Queen Gudrun, and, perfectly, Björk (whose frequent collaborator Sjón co-wrote the script) will play a witch. (Release date TBD.)

Annette

Our past description of Annette still stands: “Adam Driver is a stand-up comedian, Marion Cotillard is the opera star he marries, it’s a musical featuring original songs from Sparks, and it’s Leos Carax’s full English-language debut and his first film since 2012’s Holy Motors.” (Release date TBD.)

Memoria

Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul + Tilda Swinton + a story revolving around an orchid farmer who’s increasingly disturbed by mysterious sounds while traveling to Bogotá to visit her sister = intrigued. (Release date TBD.)

Triangle of Sadness

Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, the creator of arid comedies like Force Majeure and The Square, is making his English-language debut by sending up the fashion world with a film that follows two models at the end of their careers (the title, according to Östlund, refers to a “term used by plastic surgeons to fix a wrinkle between the eyes with Botox in 15 minutes”). Beach Rats’ Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, and Woody Harrelson star, and while the shoot was interrupted for three months due to COVID, the film reportedly wrapped in November, meaning it’s likely to make an appearance on the festival circuit (whatever that may look like) in 2021. (Release date TBD.)

After Yang

Video essayist Kogonada delves into science fiction for his new film. It’s based on a short story by Alexander Weinstein about a couple (Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith) struggling to deal with the deterioration of the robot (Justin Min) they had purchased to both care for their adopted daughter (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) and teach her about her Chinese heritage. (Release date TBD.)

The Souvenir: Part II

Part two of Joanna Hogg’s ongoing semi-autobiographical opus just may touch down in 2021. Fingers crossed. (Release date TBD.)

Red Rocket

Shot secretly and COVID-safely in Texas this fall, the new film from The Florida Project director Sean Baker stars Simon Rex — as in the former MTV VJ, Scary Movie actor, and hip-hop artist also known as Dirt Nasty. Details about the film are scarce aside from this bit of casting, but it’s described as a dark comedy that Baker collaborated on with his regular co-writer, Chris Bergoch, and, knowing Baker’s past work, it wouldn’t be surprising if nonprofessional actors were featured. (Release date TBD.)

Don’t Worry Darling

Even before we found out director Olivia Wilde and Shia LaBeouf substitute Harry Styles are maybe, probably dating, we wanted to see this movie. (Release date TBD.)

False Positive

Carefree single gal onscreen no more — the new project from Broad City’s Ilana Glazer is a pregnancy-horror film that has been described as following the tradition of Rosemary’s Baby. Glazer and Justin Theroux star as a couple whose fertility issues are solved by a famed doctor (Pierce Brosnan) who may be keeping some frightening secrets. Glazer co-wrote the screenplay with Wonder Showzen’s John Lee, who’ll direct. An A24 production, False Positive is set to debut directly on Hulu. (Release date TBD.)

Three Thousand Years of Longing

George Miller is gearing up to shoot his Fury Road prequel, Furiosa, with Anya Taylor-Joy, but his upcoming film is one he has described as an “anti–Mad Max.” Instead, Three Thousand Years of Longing is an epic fantasy romance starring Tilda Swinton as a lonely British woman who finds an antique bottle containing a djinni (Idris Elba) but is so embittered that she initially can’t come up with a single wish. (Release date TBD.)

The Woman in the Window

We can’t help ourselves. (Release date TBD.)

Stillwater

Director Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater tells the story of an Oklahoma oil-rig worker (Matt Damon) who travels to France to try to exonerate his daughter, who has been imprisoned there for a crime she claims she didn’t commit. (Release date TBD.)

The Power of the Dog

One of the signs that 2021 will be better than the year we just had is that it will almost certainly bring us a new Jane Campion film. The Power of the Dog is adapted from the 1967 Thomas Savage novel, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons playing Phil and George Burbank, brothers who own a large Montana ranch. When George, the younger of the pair, falls in love with and weds a young widow named Rose (Kirsten Dunst), the siblings’ relationship starts to fall apart, as Phil convinces himself that Rose has married into the family only for money. (Release date TBD.)

The Tragedy of Macbeth

One of the signs that 2021 may be the end-time is that it’s giving us a solo Coen brother film. Yes, for the first time in the siblings’ long work partnership, Joel and Ethan have split, with Joel writing and directing this take on the Shakespeare play, while, according to regular collaborator Carter Burwell, who’s handling the score for Macbeth, Ethan just wanted to do other things. Denzel Washington will play the ruthless Scottish king in this adaptation and Frances McDormand his scheming wife. (Release date TBD.)

C’mon C’mon

A collaboration between Joaquin Phoenix and writer-director Mike Mills (of 20th Century Women and Beginners) seems promising. (Release date TBD.)

Titane

Julia Ducournau’s Raw was one of the standout debuts of 2016 — a coming-of-age body-horror story rife with underexplored sexuality, surreal veterinary-school imagery, and a family history of cannibalism. Her new film, Titane, doesn’t sound like it strays far from that dark territory, concerned as it is with the reemergence of a child who disappeared a decade earlier and a car-showroom model who may be the next victim of a serial killer working in the area. Neon is already onboard to distribute this hotly anticipated film. (Release date TBD.)

Even More Undated Films With 2021 Potential:

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie
Next Goal Wins
Tick, Tick … Boom!
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Army of the Dead
Connected
To Olivia
The Kissing Booth 3
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Wicked
Nine Days
Those Who Wish Me Dead
Don’t Look Up
Thunder Force
Armageddon Time
Rebel Ridge
Things Heard and Seen
Bad Trip
The Harder They Fall
No Sudden Move
Bruised
Kate
The Way of the Wind
The Last Letter From Your Lover
Benedetta
Red, White, and Water
The Velvet Underground
The Brutalist
Night Teeth
Dual
The Lost Daughter
Hope
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

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