EW's 2021 movie preview: 88 films we can't wait to see
After the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged movie theaters and studios in 2020, and continues to wreak havoc amid a global winter surge in cases, the industry is counting on hope. Hope that bold, controversial new streaming strategies will work; that anticipated long-shelved titles can get the rollouts they deserve; that the theatrical model will make a grand return in the summer, with the worst of the virus behind us. A lot remains unsure, but there's one thing we know: The movies are there.
Over the next two weeks, we'll be posting special preview stories of more than two dozen of the below films every day, from exclusive trailers and photos to interviews with A-list actors and filmmakers. But to start we present our list of the movies we can't wait to see. Some of these releases may very well change; others aren't nailed down yet, but EW can report they'll hit by the middle of this year, our cutoff for this preview.
Check out the listings below.
This month, EW is offering exclusive looks at more than two dozen of 2021's most anticipated movies. Check out more of our preview here.
OSCAR CONTENDERS... NOW?
With the Oscars and Golden Globes pushing eligibility for their 2021 awards into the end of February, to accommodate for pandemic-caused delays and strategy shifts, the normally barren months of January and February will be stocked with premieres of awards contenders. Here are the 10 we're most eagerly awaiting.
CHERRY: Apple TV+'s big unseen contender, adapted from Nico Walker's novel of the same name, comes from The Russo Brothers and stars Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo. (In theaters Feb. 26, streaming on Apple TV+ March 12)
FRENCH EXIT: Michelle Pfeiffer plays a wealthy widow who flees to Paris with her adult son (Lucas Hedges) in Azazel Jacobs' quirky comedy-drama. (In theaters Feb. 12)
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH: Shaka King's bold and buzzy new drama stars Daniel Kaluuya as the charismatic Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and LaKeith Stanfield as William O'Neal, an FBI informant posing as a member of the party. (In theaters and streaming on HBO Max Feb. 12)
MALCOLM & MARIE: Euphoria creator Sam Levinson shot this black-and-white two-hander, starring Zendaya and John David Washington as a romantic couple at odds, last spring, while the rest of Hollywood was shut down, lending it some extra intrigue. (Streaming on Netflix Feb. 5)
THE MAURITANIAN: Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, The Last King of Scotland) examines the true story of a Guantánamo Bay prisoner (played by Tahar Rahim) held for years without being charged, and the lawyers (played by Jodie Foster, Shailene Woodley, and Benedict Cumberbatch) vying to get him his day in court. (Out Feb. 19)
PIECES OF A WOMAN: Vanessa Kirby collected raves for her turn in this heavy drama out of its premiere at Venice; as a woman experiencing a particular, agonizing form of grief, the Crown alum is a formidable Best Actress contender. (Streaming on Netflix Jan. 7)
SUPERNOVA: Awards veterans Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth reunite as a longtime couple in this quiet, heartbreaking British drama, directed by Hinterland's Harry Macqueen. (In theaters Jan. 29, available on-demand Feb. 16)
TWO OF US: For those looking for a little more Euro fare in their Oscar contenders, France's 2021 entry for Best International Film, about two older women who've been lovers for decades, should do the trick. (In theaters Feb. 5)
THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY: Grammy-nominated musical artist Andra Day is set to make a major movie debut with her transformation into Billie Holiday, in the Lee Daniels biopic costarring Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, and more. (Release TBD)
THE WHITE TIGER: Ramin Bahrani's epic adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel introduces a major discovery in leading man Adarsh Gourav, and also features Priyanka Chopra Jonas in a rich supporting role. (Streaming on Netflix Jan. 22)
BLOCKBUSTERS ARE BACK... HOPEFULLY?
These 10 tentpoles' long journey to the screen may not be over yet (don't expect all of these dates to stick!), but we're getting closer.
BLACK WIDOW: Scarlett Johansson is donning the sleek catsuit one last time. Black Widow gets her solo film in a stunt-heavy, pre-Endgame-set caper that reunites Natasha with fellow assassins (Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh). (In theaters May 7)
CINDERELLA: Camila Cabello as the Disney princess, with Billy Porter as the fairy godparent? Kay Cannon's musically-driven spin on the fairy tale has us very intrigued. (Out this winter)
THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT: The third installment in the critically acclaimed, widely popular horror franchise brings paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) a new story of terror, murder, and "unknown evil." (In theaters and on HBO Max June 4)
CRUELLA: Emma Stone takes on a reimagined version of the classic Dalmatians villain, with Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, and more along for the ride. (In theaters May 28)
F9: The ninth Fast & Furious film will ride into theaters this spring, with Vin Diesel et al. in tow, after several delays. (In theaters May 28)
GODZILLA VS. KONG: One of the biggest movies to get a streaming premiere, Warner Bros. will ensure the latest chapter in the epic monster-movie series gets a wide audience. (In theaters and on HBO Max May 21)
NO TIME TO DIE: Daniel Craig can't truly put the suit away until his (supposedly) final Bond movie sees the light of day. Well, amid eye-popping reports regarding the film's studio MGM, he may soon get the chance: The tentpole is, as of now, only a few months away. (In theaters April 2)
A QUIET PLACE: PART II: John Krasinski is back behind the camera for the sequel to his chilling horror breakout, with Emily Blunt returning to her SAG Award-winning role, once more largely silent. (In theaters April 23)
VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE: One of the last big films to complete production before the pandemic hit last spring, the Venom sequel should find Tom Hardy back in his menacingly anti-hero mode. (Out this summer)
MORE MOVIES TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
And stay tuned for more on lots of these titles.
TO MAKE YOU LAUGH
- Bad Trip, directed by Kitao Sakurai and starring Eric André and Lil Rel Howery. On Netflix this spring.
- Locked Down, directed by Doug Liman and starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor. On HBO Max Jan. 14.
- Blithe Spirit, directed by Edward Hall and starring Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann, and Judi Dench. In theaters and on demand Feb. 19.
- Coming 2 America, directed by Craig Brewer and starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and Jermaine Fowler. On Amazon Prime Video March 5.
- Breaking News in Yuba County, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Allison Janney, Regina Hall, Mila Kunis, and Awkwafina. In theaters and on demand Feb. 12.
- I Care a Lot, directed by J Blakeson and starring Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, and Dianne Wiest. On Netflix Feb. 19.
- Vacation Friends, directed by Clay Tarver and starring John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, and Lynn Whitfield. On Hulu this summer.
- Bob's Burgers: The Movie, directed by Loren Bouchard and based on the TV series. In theaters April 9.
- Thunder Force, directed by Ben Falcone and starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Pom Klementieff, and Melissa Leo. On Netflix this spring.
- Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Taika Waititi. In theaters May 21.
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife, directed by Jason Reitman and starring Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and Paul Rudd. In theaters this summer.
- Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro and starring Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, and Maluma. In theaters May 14.
TO MAKE YOU THINK (AND MAYBE CRY)
- The Little Things, directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto. In theaters and on HBO Max Jan. 29.
- Concrete Cowboy, directed by Ricky Staub and starring Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, and Lorraine Toussaint. This spring on Netflix
- Palmer, directed by Fisher Stevens and starring Justin Timberlake, Ryder Allen, Alisha Wainwright, June Squibb, and Juno Temple. On Apple TV+ Jan. 29.
- The Dig, directed by Simon Stone and starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes. On Netflix Jan. 29.
- Falling, directed by Viggo Mortensen and starring Mortensen and Lance Henriksen. In theaters and on demand Feb. 5.
- Penguin Bloom, directed by Glendyn Ivin and starring Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln, and Jacki Weaver. On Netflix Jan. 27.
- Land, directed by Robin Wright and starring Wright and Demián Bichir. Premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and in theaters Feb. 12.
- Joe Bell, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and starring Mark Wahlberg, Reid Miller, and Connie Britton. Out Feb. 19.
- The World to Come, directed by Mona Fastvold and starring Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, and Casey Affleck. Out Feb. 12.
- Monster, directed by Anthony Handler and starring Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright, and Jharrel Jerome. On Netflix this March.
- The Many Saints of Newark, directed by Alan Taylor and starring Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga. In theaters and on HBO Max March 12.
- The Last Letter From Your Lover, directed by Augustine Frizzell and starring Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley. On Netflix later this year.
- Six Minutes to Midnight, directed by Andy Goddard and starring Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench, and James Broadbent. Out later this year.
- The Woman in the Window, directed by Joe Wright and starring Amy Adams and Julianne Moore. On Netflix this summer.
- Beckett, directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and starring John David Washington, Alicia Vikander, and Boyd Holbrook. On Netflix this summer.
- I Carry You With Me, directed by Heidi Ewing and starring Armando Espitia andChristian Vázquez. In theaters this spring.
- Fatherhood, directed by Paul Weitz and starring Kevin Hart and Alfre Woodard. In theaters this spring.
- The Ultimate Playlist of Noise, directed by Bennett Lasseter and starring Keean Johnson and Madeline Brewer. On Hulu Jan. 15.
- To All the Boys: Always and Forever, directed by Michael Fimognari and starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo. On Netflix this February.
- Moxie, directed by Amy Poehler and starring Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Josephine Langford, and Patrick Schwarzenegger. On Netflix March 3.
- Plan B, directed by Natalie Morales and starring Victoria Moroles, Kuhoo Verma, Michael Provost. On Hulu this spring.
- A Week Away, directed by Roman White and starring Bailee Madison, Kevin Quinn, Sherri Shepherd, and David Koechner. On Netflix this spring.
- Boogie, directed by Eddie Huang and starring Taylor Takahashi and Taylour Paige. In theaters March 5
- Flora & Ulysses, directed by Lena Khan and starring Matilda Lawler, Alyson Hannigan, Ben Schwartz, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, and Danny Pudi. On Disney+ Feb. 19.
- Finding 'Ohana, directed by Jude Weng and starring Kea Peahu and Alex Aiono. On Netflix Jan. 29.
- Tom and Jerry, directed by Tim Story and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Rob Delaney, and Ken Jeong. In theaters and on HBO Max Feb. 26.
- Raya and the Last Dragon, directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada; co-directed by Paul Briggs and John Ripa; and starring Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina. On Disney+ March 5.
- YES DAY, directed by Miguel Arteta and starring Jennifer Garner, Édgar Ramirez, and Jenna Ortega. On Netflix March 12.
- Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, directed by Will Gluck and starring James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, and David Oyelowo. In theaters this spring.
- Spirit Untamed, directed by Elaine Bogan and co-directed by Ennio Torresan. In theaters June 4.
- Vivo, directed by Kirk DeMicco and co-directed by Brandon Jeffords. In theaters this summer.
- The Water Man, directed by David Oyelowo and starring Oyelowo, Rosario Dawson, and Lonnie Chavis. Out this spring.
- Luca, directed by Enrico Casarosa. In theaters June 18.
- Rumble, directed by Hamish Grieve and starring Geraldine Viswanathan, Will Arnett, and Terry Crews. In theaters May 14.
- Ron's Gone Wrong, directed by Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine; and co-directed by Octavio E. Rodriguez. In theaters April 23.
THRILLS, FIGHTS, AND SCARES
- The Night, directed by Kourosh Ahari and starring Shahab Hosseini. Out Jan. 29.
- Nobody, directed by Ilya Naishuller and starring Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, and RZA. In theaters Feb. 26.
- False Positive, directed by John Lee and starring Ilana Glazer and Justin Theroux. On Hulu this spring.
- Silk Road, directed by Tiller Russell and starring Jason Clarke and Nick Robinson. In theaters and on demand Feb. 19.
- Things Heard and Seen, directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman and starring Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, and Natalia Dyer. On Netflix this April.
- Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie. In theaters April 23.
- The Vigil, directed by Keith Thomas and starring Dave Davis and Menashe Lustig. Out Feb. 26.
- There's Someone Inside Your House, directed by Patrick Brice and starring Sydney Park. On Netflix this February.
- The King's Man, directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou and Charles Dance. In theaters March 12.
- The Nowhere Inn, directed by Bill Benz and starring Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark, and Dakota Johnson. Coming soon.
- Boss Level, directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, and Michelle Yeoh. On Hulu this spring.
- The Last Mercenary, directed by David Charhon and starring Jean-Claude van Damme, Alban Ivanov, and Assa Sylla. On Netflix this summer.
- Chaos Walking, directed by Doug Liman and starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. In theaters March 5.
- Awake, directed by Mark Raso and starring Gina Rodriguez. On Netflix this spring.
- Infinite, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Mark Wahlberg. In theaters May 28.
- Mortal Kombat, directed by Simon McQuoid and starring Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Lewis Tan, Chin Han, and Hiroyuki Sanada. In theaters and on HBO Max April 16.
- Army of the Dead, directed by Zack Snyder and starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, and Tig Notaro. On Netflix this summer.
- No Sudden Move, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Ray Liotta, Kieran Culkin, Brendan Fraser, Noah Jupe, and Amy Seimetz. Coming later this year.
- Music docs: Apple TV+ will debut their Billie Eilish doc The World's A Little Blurry, directed by R.J. Cutler, this February, while Todd Haynes' The Velvet Underground will hit on the streaming service later this summer.
- Sci-fi trips: Start your February (Feb. 5, to be exact) with the pandemic-adjacent Little Fish, starring Jack O'Connell and Olivia Cooke (in theaters and on demand), as well as the wild Salma Hayek-Owen Wilson vehicle Bliss (streaming on Amazon Prime Video).