Last year was a frustrating one for cinema. Films were constantly being pushed back due to the pandemic and few of the big blockbusters we were promised actually arrived on the big screen. If there’s a silver lining, though, it’s that 2021 is looking like the biggest 12 months in movies ever. From massive action flicks and intimate biopics to creepy thrillers and scare-stuffed horrors, you’ll want to add these unmissable releases to your watch list.
- READ MORE: The 20 best films of 2020
‘Godzilla vs Kong’
Two of cinema’s most legendary monsters clash in this megabucks mash-up of the Godzilla and King Kong franchises. Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall star as an epic face-off between the beasts threatens the future of humanity itself.
Release date: May 21
‘Top Gun: Maverick’
It’s been a long old time since the first Top Gun film – 34 years, to be exact – so Maverick feels like a very overdue reunion rather than a run-of-the-mill sequel. There’s no word on what they’ll be getting up to yet, but Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer are both set to return in their original roles for another flight. They’ll be joined by franchise newbies , Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Miles Teller.
Release date: July 8
‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’
Re-enter the Looney-verse with NBA hero LeBron James as he and his on-screen son (Ceyair J. Wright) get trapped in a digital world by an evil algorithm. Their only chance of escape is for the King to do what he does best – dunk all over his enemies, with the help of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Tune Squad crew.
Release date: July 16
‘Mission Impossible: 7’
Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in this seventh instalment of the spy franchise. Few details have been shared at present but expect big stunts and jaw-dropping action – the film crew did spectacularly blow up an old Polish bridge during filming, after all.
Release date: November 19
‘The Matrix 4’
This long-awaited sequel might be another huge title keeping its story under wraps for now but, with Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith and more all reprising their roles from the earlier films, we’re expecting big things from the next chapter of the sci-fi adventure.
Release date: December 22
Jared Leto enters the MCU as Dr. Michael Morbius, the comic book scientist suffering from a rare blood disease. When he tries to cure himself, he unwittingly transforms into a super-powered vampire (without the weakness of having to avoid sunlight). Will he be able to stay a hero when he’s driven by a thirst for blood?
Release date: March 19
‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’
Tom Hardy makes his comeback as Eddie Brock, the investigative journalist with a terrifying alter-ego in Venom. This time, he’s facing off against a new foe (played by Woody Harrelson) – a villain whether he’s in his super-powered symbiote form as Carnage or human serial killer Cletus Kasady.
Release date: June 25
‘Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings’
Comic book movies continue to diversify in 2021 as Marvel welcomes Shang-Chi to the big screen for the first time. When the master of kung-fu (played by Simu Liu) gets lured into the Ten Rings terrorist organisation, he’s forced to confront a past he thought he’d long left behind.
Release date: July 9
‘The Suicide Squad’
The spiritual sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad sees DC’s super-villains reunite to take down the Nazi-era prison and laboratory of Jotunheim – a place that held captive political prisoners and conducted (presumably) less-than-savoury experiments. Expect ass-kicking action from familiar faces like Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and those new to the comic book world, like Pete Davidson and Idris Elba.
Release date: August 6
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, this Chloe Zhao-helmed Marvel blockbuster follows the titular Eternals – an alien race with the gift of immortality – as they take on the challenge of protecting humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants. Will stars Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani and Richard Madden succeed?
Release date: November 5
This new Shazam!-related title is shrouded in mystery, but expect it to explore the origin story of Black Adam (played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson). As DC fans will know, he started his story as a slave in the ancient city of Kahndaq, where he was chosen by the wizard Shazam (played by Zachary Levi in the 2019 movie) to be given new, incredible powers. Sadly, Black Adam turned to the dark side and used his gifts to cause chaos on earth. Cheers!
Release date: Late 2021
‘No Time To Die’
Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 has been much delayed, but when it finally makes it to screens we’ll see the infamous British agent coming out of retirement to track down missing scientist Valdo Obruchev. Along the way, he meets Safin (Rami Malek), a villain who’s been described as “more dangerous than anyone Bond’s ever encountered”.
Release date: April 2
‘A Quiet Place Part II’
It’s time to keep very quiet with the Abbott family once more as they hide from the terrifying creatures with phenomenal hearing. Dad Lee (John Krasinski) is, of course, dead so it’s up to Evelyn (Emily Blunt) to protect their three kids alone. However, there are more horrifying threats waiting for them on their journey to safety…
Release date: April 23
Scarlett Johansson takes the lead as Natasha Romanoff – aka Black Widow – in this Avengers spin-off, set after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Struggling without the company of her fellow heroes, Romanoff comes face-to-face with a force hellbent on her destruction and must reckon with a murky past to survive.
Release date: May 7
‘In The Heights’
Based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2007 Broadway musical, In The Heights tells the story of a bodega owner in New York who inherits a fortune from his late grandmother. It’s a deep-dive into the Washington Heights community in northern Manhattan – and a celebration of home.
Release date: July 30
The first half of a two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, Dune takes place on the desert planet of Arrakis, where a drug that can extend human life and endow superhuman abilities called “the spice” is found. Something that powerful is destined to cause conflict and it’s not long before greed takes hold of the planet’s occupants.
Release date: October 1
‘Last Night In Soho’
Edgar Wright turns to psychological horror in his next film, which follows a budding fashion designer in the ‘60s. When she crosses paths with her musical hero, though, her life – and London itself – change out of all recognition.
Release date: April 23
‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’
The third instalment in The Conjuring series ditches the haunted houses and instead focuses on the fallout of demonic possession. Its basis is the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson who, in 1981, denied responsibility for the murder he was accused of because he was possessed when the crime was committed.
Release date: June 4
On his latest scare-filled thriller, M. Night Shyamalan is keeping his cards close to his chest so far. We might not know the plot yet, but Old is reportedly based on the graphic novel Sandcastle, which follows 13 people trapped in a seemingly idyllic cove that is soon revealed to make your whole life flash by in one day.
Release date: July 23
Jordan Peele takes on this 1992 horror classic in a fresh re-telling. With its roots in the classic Candyman story – say his name five times into the mirror and the supernatural killer will be summoned – Peele’s reboot finds an artist using the old tale as inspiration for his work, accidentally unleashing the evil spirit once more.
Release date: August 27
The 12th instalment in the Halloween franchise picks up exactly where 2018’s chapter left off – still in that year and still in Haddonfield, Illinois. Michael Myers is, of course, wreaking havoc on the fictional town, but Laurie Strode and her new allies do their best to stop him.
Release date: October 15
‘Don’t Worry Darling’
Ignore the gossip surrounding Olivia Wilde’s next directorial outing – this psychological horror sounds very promising even without the tabloid frenzy surrounding her and star Harry Styles’ relationship. It tells the story of an unhappy housewife in ‘50s America (Florence Pugh), her secretive husband and the leader of a cult-like organisation.
Release date: TBC
Johnny Flynn takes on the role of late icon David Bowie, a musician whose career could fill several biopics. In this one, we see him on the journey to becoming his legendary alter-ego Ziggy Stardust as he tours America in support of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’.
Release date: January 15
‘The Sparks Brothers’
Russell and Ron Mael formed Sparks in 1967 and have had quite the interesting career since, including supergroups, chart hits and film soundtracks. Now, they get the documentary treatment from Edgar Wright, who takes a closer look at the brothers’ enduring influence.
Release date: January 30 (US)
‘The United States vs Billie Holiday’
The United States vs… hones in on one specific chapter of Billie Holiday’s story – namely when she was the subject of an undercover sting operation by the Federal Department of Narcotics. Andra Day will take on the role of the star, with support from Natasha Lyonne, Trevante Rhodes and Garrett Hedlund.
Release date: March 12
‘The Beatles: Get Back’
Peter Jackson takes us inside the making of The Beatles’ 1970 album ‘Let It Be’, using archive footage to tell the story of the classic record. The Lord Of The Rings director is a noted superfan, so his deep dive into the Fab Four’s story should be unmissable.
Release date: August 27
Unlike most biopics of deceased stars, Respect had Aretha Franklin’s approval. Before her death, the singer was involved in its development so expect this portrayal of her life – which stars Jennifer Hudson as the icon herself – to be an accurate tribute to the queen of soul.
Release date: August 13
Untitled Elvis film
Baz Luhrmann is behind the camera for this chronicling of the life of rock ’n’ roll legend Elvis Presley. Austin Butler will play the King, with Tom Hanks taking on the role of his infamous manager Colonel Tom Parker.
Release date: November 5 (US)
Brilliant Black stories
‘One Night In Miami’
What would happen if Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke all spent a night celebrating the boxer’s 1964 title win in a hotel room in Miami? During her directorial debut, Regina King finds out, presenting a fictionalised meeting of four notable figures.
Release date: January 15
‘Malcolm & Marie’
While most of the movies on this list were shot before the pandemic, Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie took advantage of quarantine rules to create something more intimate. Starring only Zendaya and John David Washington, this product of the pandemic details the troubles that arise in a director and his girlfriend’s relationship as they wait for reviews of his latest work to roll in.
Release date: February 5
‘Judas And The Black Messiah’
Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield reunite in this story about the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party Fred Hampton (Kaluuya). The charismatic leader and activist drew the attention of the FBI and this Shaka King-directed biopic investigates how a betrayal from one of his own party members led to his assassination.
Release date: February 26
‘Coming 2 America’
The long-awaited sequel to the 1988 original, Coming 2 America finds Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) on his way to becoming the King of Zamunda. Before he’s crowned, though, he discovers he has a son in New York (Jermaine Fowler), pulling him back to America to find his heir.
Release date: March 5
‘Promising Young Woman’
Carey Mulligan plays a woman seeking revenge for her friend who killed herself after being raped, crossing off players in the story one by one.
Release date: February 12
Frances McDormand joins a group of modern-day nomads travelling across America after she loses everything in the Great Recession.
Release date: February 19
‘The Many Saints Of Newark’
This prequel explores the formative years of The Sopranos’ iconic New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano.
Release date: March 12
The Yi family move to Arkansas from California in the ‘80s, hoping to secure the American Dream, but when grandma Soon-ja arrives from Korea questions of identity and home arise.
Release date: March 19