Copy and paste. That’s what I’m sooooooo tempted to do for this 2021 Movie Preview. Fact is, many of the most anticipated movies of this new calendar year are merely remnants from the scrap heap of film that was 2020. I mean, do you know how many times I’ve written the preview text for Black Widow in the past 12 months? At this point, even my 93-year-old grandma knows that the film is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Same for No Time to Die — honestly, it seems like Daniel Craig confirmed his retirement from James Bond in the last millennium. But! With a fresh year comes a fresh perspective on familiar titles. And fact is, the extra wait-time has just made me more excited for the sequels to Coming to America and Ghostbusters. And we’re still due for brand-new titles to boot. Here’s a look at what to expect from now until December. Now please excuse me while I knock on every piece of wood around me. Happy new year!
Malcolm & Marie
The 2020 Oscar season remains in full swing so feel free to ignore all those hoity-toity critics groups awards! The latest example: This drama starring John David Washington (Tenet) and Emmy award-winner Zendaya. A buzzy festival title, it focuses on a couple who discuss their past relationships as they return home from a movie premiere. FYI, this is a black-and-white movie. (Netflix, February 5)
I’ve been beating this drum since Sundance 2020 and won’t give up until you see it and cry just like I did. An extraordinary Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman are at the center of this deeply tender drama about father and daughter trying to cope with the loss and trauma that comes with advancing dementia. It’s admittedly tough to watch and, because of the heartbreaking performances, impossible to shake.
Coming 2 America
Thirty-three years since we last saw him, Eddie Murphy’s lovable Akeem is finally set to become King of Zamunda when he discovers he has a son – back in Queens, New York. Honoring his father’s dying wish, he and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) set off to America. Again. Yay. Most everyone from the 1988 returns minus Samuel L. Jackson and Eriq La Salle, which is not cool but we’ll make due. (Amazon Prime, March 5)
No Time to Die
Bond, James Bond, returns for his 25th movie and if anything, the long delay has proved how much we should appreciate the big screen’s original action star. Plot: The retired secret agent (Daniel Craig) gets called back into action to rescue a kidnapped scientist, which leads him to a dangerous bad guy (Rami Malek) armed with new technology. In the trailer, Bond is trapped under ice and withstands a barrage of gunfire in his bullet-proof Aston Martin. (In theaters, April 2)
Last Night in Soho
The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy is, um, yeah, sorry, wait for it . . . making her next move. In this psychological thriller, her character has a mysterious connection to the London’s Swinging Sixties time period that allows an obsessed woman (Thomas McKenzie, JoJo Rabbit) to travel back and experience it. From director Edgar Wright. (In theaters April 23)
I’ve interviewed Scarlett Johansson since this 2020 write-up but I”m still in the dark about details. Here’s what we know: When we last saw MCU superheroine Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) Avengers: End Game, she was falling to her death. But enough of that, it’s prequel time! Set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity war, the story will fill in some gaps in Natasha Romanoff’s timeline as she returns to Europe to confront the shady group that molded her into an assassin. She’ll also ret-team with two other agents (Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz). (In theaters, May 7).
Mark Wahlberg has described his latest action thriller—adapted from D. Eric Maikranz’s 2009 novel, The Reincarnationist Papers—as a “classic story of good vs. evil with an epic twist.” He plays a schizophrenic tormented by memories of two previous lives who joins a secret society capable of digging into the past, and using that power to change the world over the course of centuries. Honestly, I’m already confused. But excited to see anyway. (In theaters, May 28)
Featuring OG cameos from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis (!!!!!!!!!!) and Sigourney Weaver, this sequel — directed by Jason Reitman — revolves around a mom (Carrie Coon) and her kids who discover their origins to the ghostbusting business. Stay hopeful and Stay Puft. But seriously, why is the trailer so serious in tone? (In theaters June 11)
Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar
Here comes the long-awaited follow-up from Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, the Oscar-nominated screenwriters of the raunchy hilarious 2011 comedy smash, Bridesmaids. They also co-star as the titular besties, who leave their small Midwestern town to go on vacation in Florida. That’s where they find themselves tangled in adventure, love and some sort of evil. (In theaters, July 16)
In the Heights
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda rewrote musical history with Hamilton, he created this vibrant ode to New York City’s Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights. The story spans three days in the summer as generations of residents examine their lives. I’ve seen it — feels like that press screening was five years ago — and recall feeling that it was not as great as Hamilton but still full of joy? (In theaters and HBO Max, July 18)
Get on board with another family film based on a popular Disneyland attraction. (Hey, it worked for Pirates of the Caribbean! The first one really is a hoot!) Dwayne Johnson is the wily boat captain; Emily Blunt is the determined scientist. Together they go on a research mission into the Amazon jungle to see the backside of the water. (In theaters July 30)
Ten new characters are about to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re called Eternals and despite their human-looking appearance, they’re immortal. Your loaded cast includes Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Kit Harrington, Salma Hayek and an extremely jacked Kumail Nanjiani. This one even has more buzz now that director Chloe Zhao has unveiled Nomadland and will almost certainly be Oscar-nominated for it. (In theaters November 5)
Mission Impossible: 7
I had a fun and pun-ny lede sentence all planned out — until Tom Cruise‘s angry December bleep-a-thon on the set. So let’s just acknowledge the facts: In addition to the July Top Gun sequel, he returns as agent Ethan Hunt in the latest installment of his action franchise. This time, he jumps off the side of a mountain and rides on top of a train while making sure everyone is socially distant. (In theaters November 19)
Will Smith stands in center court for this biopic about Richard Williams, i.e., the tenacious and hard-charging father of Venus and Serena Williams. Despite no tennis background, Richard gave his young daughters lessons on the courts of Compton, California, via tough love. I still wonder if he will be the hero of his own story. And unsure who plays his daughters. (In theaters and HBO Max, November 19)
Did you hear? BEN AFFLECK AND ANA de ARMAS ARE DATING. Here’s the celluloid backstory, courtesy of director Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, Unfaithful) — who has a knack for taking a seemingly perfect relationship and ripping the seams wide open. In his latest psychological thriller, Affleck becomes suspect No. 1 after his one of his wife’s lovers disappears. Hide the rabbits! (In theaters, TBA)
The French Dispatch
A full nine months after it was originally pulled from its summer release date, I’m still unsure why this movie is twisting in the wind with no set release date. After all, for indie movie lovers, this is the equivalent of an Avengers movie. Director Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) has assembled a sterling cast—including Bill Murray, Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Elisabeth Moss and Frances McDormand—in an eclectic musical built around American newspaper journalists in 1950s France.
Last and certainly not least, how jealous are you of Camila Cabello right now? Not only does the Gen Z pop star get to make her acting debut as the rags-to-riches titular character in this modern-day musical take, but Billy Porter (Pose) is her “fairy godmother.” Weirdly, this is not a Disney movie. (In theaters, TBD)
Also published on Medium.