This past year was a tough one for movie theatres and studios alike. A variety of cinemas shut down, many for good. Others held on by a thread. Movies were delayed, then delayed again before being pushed back indefinitely or perhaps released to a streaming service.
With life slowly getting back to normal or at least adapting to the current reality of things, movies are once again being released and fans are looking forward to once again being entertained by their favorite actors. Whether you are waiting for the latest installment of your favorite franchise, or something completely new and original, there’s bound to be something you are looking forward to in the coming months.
Here is a shortlist of some of the most anticipated movie releases of 2021.
The Mauritanian (February 19)
The new legal drama from Kevin MacDonald, the Oscar-winning director of Last King of Scotland and One Day in September, The Mauritanian is based on the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim) who was detained for more than a decade in Guantánamo Bay without being changed. Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley portray the lawyers seeking justice for Salahi, opposed by a formidable military prosecutor (Benedict Cumberbatch) who comes to suspect that there is a larger conspiracy afoot.
Coming to America (March 5)
More than 30 years have passed since Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) first came to America. Returning now to fulfill his dying father’s wish, Akeem seeks out the son he never knew he had to prepare him to become crown prince of Zamunda. The original Coming to America had a significant cultural impact and fans have been waiting decades for a sequel.
Raya and the Last Dragon (March 5)
Long ago, dragons saved humanity from evil monsters known as the Druun by sacrificing themselves. Now, 500 years have passed and the Druun are returning. Lone warrior Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) undertakes a perilous quest to stop them once and for all, but to do so, she must find the last remaining dragon (Awkwafina).
Set in a fictional land inspired by the cultures of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and more, the film will release simultaneously in theatres and on Disney Plus, Disney’s streaming service.
No Time to Die (April 2)
The 25th film in the venerable Bond franchise, depending on how you count, this marks Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as the renowned 007, only… he’s no longer 007. That title has been passed to newcomer Nomi (Lashana Lynch) following Bond’s retirement. Called back to duty by friend and fellow 00 Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), Bond finds himself facing off against a villain whose evil machinations could result in the death of millions of innocents.
Having been delayed several times from its original release date in November 2019, No Time to Die has Bond fans anxious to discover whether he will return to active duty or be permanently replaced by a new agent.
A Quiet Place 2 (April 23)
The first A Quiet Place was a surprise hit grossing more than $340 million on a budget of approximately $20 million. A sequel was inevitable, but most fans don’t mind. Although the first film was a complete story unto itself, it never answered questions about the origins of the mysterious creatures that seemingly wiped out much of humanity. Written and directed by John Krasinski, who directed and co-wrote the original, the sequel sees him return via flashbacks alongside real-life wife Emily Blunt, who must lead her family in their ongoing fight for survival in an increasingly hostile world.
Black Widow (May 7)
Marvel fans everywhere have waited to see super agent Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) lead her own film ever since her first appearance in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Although the events of Avengers: Endgame seemed to dash any hopes of that ever happening, Romanov will return in this look back at her origin in the biggest of the Marvel movie releases of 2021. Also starring Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour, this is the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 24th film in the franchise.
Will Johansson somehow continue in the role, or will Pugh take up the Mantle of Black Widow?
Find out on May 7th.
In the Heights (June 18)
From the musical written by Quiara Alegria Hudes and featuring music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights is a story set over several days in the largely Latino neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City. The stage production won the Tony Award for best musical in 2008 and hopes are high for this Jon M. Chu-directed adaptation.
Top Gun: Maverick (July 2)
It’s never too late for a sequel, it seems, as Tom Cruise’s Maverick returns in this sequel to 1986’s Top Gun in one of the most anticipated sequel movies of 2021. Although Kelly McGillis is missing in action, Val Kilmer rejoins Cruise in this follow-up to the classic of 80’s machismo, fast planes, and dogfighting. This time, Maverick is off on a dangerous Top Gun mission while facing the ghosts of his past.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9)
Coming two months after Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be the MCU’s 25th film, but it has ties back to the very first as the titular character (played by Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu) contends with the same terrorist group that kidnapped Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man.
Dune (October 1)
Frank Herbert’s novel Dune was published in 1965, launching a franchise of books, movies, and games including 1984’s Dune from director David Lynch, Frank Herbert’s Dune, the TV miniseries, and this new adaptation starring Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, and Timothée Chalamet. The 1984 version remains something of a cult classic, but the new film hopes to win over a new generation of fans and introduce them to the famous story of sandworms and spice.
Mission Impossible 7 (November 19)
Another sequel featuring Tom Cruise, the 7th instalment of the Mission Impossible series brings back the usual crew of Cruise, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg, with the returning Vanessa Kirby. This time, the MI team faces off against villain Hayley Atwell. For many fans, however, the real draw is watching Cruise continue to perform most of his own stunts, thrilling audiences and giving studio execs heart attacks.
The Matrix 4 (December 22)
- Nearly 20 years after the release of Matrix Revolutions, Keanu Reeves reprises his role as Neo. The details of his character’s return following his death in the last instalment, as well as those of the overall plot remain a mystery, but for fans of the series, the new film is seen as a chance to revisit a favourite franchise, and perhaps address criticisms of what some felt was an unsatisfying third chapter.
These are just some of the movie releases of 2021 that moviegoers are looking forward to. With any luck, the opportunity to see at least some of them in movie theatres will present itself, but until then, fans can enjoy them via streaming services in the comfort of their home cinemas.