Written by Helen Bownass
After a year when many films have been postponed, we’re pleased to say there’s a glut of movies to look forward to in 2021.
In the last twelve months cinema-going has sadly been dramatically reduced, so if you’re anything like us you’ll be desperate to get lost in some excellent filmmaking. Ideally whilst in a dark cinema, surrounded (safely) by other people with a gigantic bucket of popcorn to swim around in.
And joyfully, 2021’s offerings have something for every taste, including poignant biopics, uplifting musicals, tense thrillers, contemporary horror films and smart reflections on modern life.
And even better, there’s a wide range of fully-rounded female characters and a cheering amount of projects from the minds of excellent female directors to indulge in.
Now this makes us very excited…
Pieces Of A Woman
When this film showed at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year it was to great critical acclaim. Directed by Hungarian filmmaker Kornel Mundroczo it stars Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as Boston couple Martha and Sean Carson eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child.
Devastatingly, their home birth goes wrong and the baby dies shortly after being born. The film is set over the course of one winter and follows as the pair mourn a life not even begun; their relationship bows under the weight of such grief and they bring a claim of criminal negligence against their midwife.
Release date: 7 January 2021 on Netflix
If you’re a long-time fan of Time Team, this new British drama based on a true story and starring Lily James and Carey Mulligan will appeal.
Mulligan plays Edith, a widow, who hires archaeologist Basil (Ralph Fiennes) to dig up some land on her plentiful estate. But they make a historic discovery, as it turns out to be an Anglo-Saxon burial site. Alongside the artefacts there’s also love stories, and the beginning of World War II to contend with.
Release date:15 January in cinemas and 29 January 2021 on Netflix
Malcolm & Marie
The first film to be made in lockdown, this promises to be a special and unique take on 2020 directed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson. Zendaya and John David Washington star as a couple on their way home from Malcolm’s (Washington) film premiere. Where they embark on an intense discussion about past relationships.
If you think it sounds similar to a certain 2019 film starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, you’re not wrong. According to Deadline it “has some echoes of Netflix’s Marriage Story, while resonating a number of social themes that the world is experiencing right now.”
Release date: 5 February 2021 on Netflix.
Promising Young Woman
One of 2020’s many film casualties, we’re pleased to see this fiery and stylistic revenge thriller, based in conversations about #MeToo and consent, has moved into 2021.
Directed by The Crown actress Emerald Fennel it centres on Cassie (Carey Mulligan), a medical school dropout who works in a coffee shop and lives with her parents after a tragic event. But at the weekends she follows her vocation: pretending to be drunk to the point of passing out, where she is found by some man who wants to help her, then tries to take advantage of the situation. Whereupon she delivers a message of fierce retribution.
Release date: 12 February 2021 in cinemas
After she lost everything in the 2008 recession Fern, a widow and former substitute teacher, travels across the American West trying to get seasonal employment and meeting groups of nomads on the way.
Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Jessica Bruder, the film directed by Chloe Zhao stars Frances McDormand – superlative and Oscar-winning in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – as Fern. It’s a role that’s set to prove her, yet again, as one of our greatest acting talents.
Release date: 19 February 2021 in cinemas
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
In the mood for joyful showtunes and a journey to being whatever you want to be? Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will hit you in all the right places.
Based on the West End musical, which in turn is based on the real story of Jamie New (Max Harwood), a 16-year-old schoolboy in Sheffield who has big dreams of being a drag performer, to his dad’s chagrin. Sarah Lancashire stars as Jamie’s mother, Sharon Horgan plays his teacher while acting legend Richard E Grant is Jamie’s drag mentor.
Release date: 26 February 2021 in cinemas
Raya And The Last Dragon
What is it about Disney animated movies that pull our heartstrings? Even just reading the plot description for this movie has us feeling emotional: “In a land called Kumandra, a warrior named Raya searches for the last dragon in the world.” The film, which was written by Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim, is set to be a celebration of Asian culture and history. Awkwafina will voice Sisu, a water dragon who is the last of her kind, while Star Wars actor Kelly Marie Tran will be the brave young warrior Raya.
Release date: 12 March 2021 in cinemas
The United States Vs Billie Holiday
No Time To Die
OK, yes. A new James Bond movie is hardly a cause for feminist celebration. However, THIS new James Bond movie – reportedly Daniel Craig’s last – was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and features Lashana Lynch stepping into his shoes as the new 007. Now that we can get behind. And after moving throughout the schedules in 2020 our expectations are particularly high.
Release date 2 April 2021 in cinemas
A Quiet Place II
Last Night In Soho
Edgar Wright, the director behind Shaun of the Dead, is making a return to horror with this new London-based film.
Starring Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith and New Zealand newcomer Thomasin McKenzie, the film will straddle two plotlines – one in the 60s and one in the present day. “Taylor-Joy will play the lead in the 60s, while McKenzie will play a fashion student in modern day scenes,” Collider reports. “Smith will be playing Taylor-Joy’s manager of sorts.”
Release date: 23 April 2021 in cinemas
Last year, we bid goodbye to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame. But it was a bit of an emotional anti-climax, really, overshadowed by the greater concern of Thanos’ world domination.
In this, Johansson’s first standalone movie in the Marvel cinematic universe and a prequel to the existing Avengers movies, we get to say a true goodbye to one of the trailblazing female superheroes. The movie will focus on Black Widow’s life as Natasha, a Russian sleeper agent in the US, before she switched sides and joined the good guys. Directed by a female director and with an impeccable supporting cast including Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh, this female superhero movie is worth celebrating.
Release date: 7 May 2021 in cinemas
Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar
It’s been a while since Kristen Wiig has been in our lives, and to make up for it she has teamed back up with Annie Mumolo, her Bridesmaids co-writer – and also signed up Jamie Dornan.
The pair play Barb and Star who go on holiday to Vista Del Mar– after leaving their small town for the first time. But while there they get embroiled in adventures, romantic liaisons and an encounter with an evil villain.
Release date: 16 July 2021 in cinemas
In The Heights
Before Lin Manuel Miranda created Hamilton, he was the man from Washington Heights. The creative genius’s first musical was based on his own early life in New York City and centred on the lives of the Dominican community who lived there.
Miranda will be starring in this film adaptation of the Broadway musical, directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ Jon M Chu, but the main role will be played by Anthony Ramos – John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton.
Release date: 30 July in cinemas
Now that the Avengers franchise is complete, audiences are looking for a new ensemble superhero flick. The Eternals could be that movie.
Starring Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harington, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani, it tells the story of a group of celestial beings whose lives become entangled with humans. Female filmmaker Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) is directing and the first glimpses of actors in costume on the set look suitably fantastical.
Release date: 5 November 2021 in cinemas
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg’s latest trick is remaking West Side Story, one of the most beloved musicals by another famous Stephen (Sondheim), for a modern audience.
Rita Moreno, the Oscar-winning star of the original 1961 film will be back as Valentina, a reworked version of the advisory adult character Doc, who in turn was based on Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet. (Moreno originally played Anita, the best friend of West Side Story’s main character Maria.) The stars of the film, though, taking on the roles of the two celestially-crossed lovers from warring New York street gangs, are Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, a Colombian American singer-songwriter who beat 30,000 other women for the role of Maria. Get your jazz hands ready, this one is going to be an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.
Release date: 10 December 2021 in cinemas
Jodie Comer is swapping Villanelle for video games in Free Guy. Set inside a video game in which an avatar played by Ryan Reynolds suddenly becomes conscious that he’s a character in the game, the movie is a funny action romp that meditates on ideas of identity and sentience.
It also features Comer in two roles: first, a chic video game assassin and, secondly, a nerdy gamer in the real world. She has the range to pull them both off.
One of Disney’s most famous villains gets a live-action origin story, and we are very excited.
Emma Stone plays the puppy stealing fashion designer, and this prequel will follow her life in 70s London as she develops her obsession with all things dalmatian, becoming the ruthless miscreant that haunted us all.
Release date: TBC
Images courtesy of film studios, Getty
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