Update: The Uncharted movie, starring Tom Holland, is now slated to release in February 2022, and as such, we’ve removed it from this list.
Let’s try this again, shall we? So, going to the movies was something of a bust in 2020. Aside from 1917, which came out in January at my local theatre chain, the only flick I saw on the big screen was Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a film that arguably should have been delayed further. The global pandemic decimated the big screen, with many films being delayed indefinitely, a full year behind schedule or got pushed straight to streaming. Now that a vaccine for the global pandemic is being administered, here’s hoping that we can all return to our favourite cinemas at some point this year, including some that we were excited about last year. If there are only minor delays in the first half of the year, it’s going to be a very busy year for movies overall. So, in no particular order and without doing a traditional ranking, let’s break it down.
The Matrix 4
The Matrix 4 is the film I’m most cautiously optimistic about in 2021. As of this point, the film is untitled, with everyone simply calling it The Matrix 4, and is set to see the return of Keanu Reeves as Neo and Carrie Anne Moss as Trinity. Somehow. That’s what’s interesting and worrying about this movie. The old characters are back but they died during the events of Revolutions. Are these different versions of the characters in a new version of the matrix? Possibly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is set to play a younger Morpheus. But that’s all guesswork. I just hope the film isn’t like The Force Awakens or Terminator: Dark Fate, which sees the older generation passing the mantle to a younger generation. I want this movie to feel important and original, while also hopefully pushing cinematography and action set pieces, just like the original did. Like all Warner films this year, The Matrix 4 will release on the big screen and on HBO Max in the USA on December 22nd and my bet, for the record, is that it will be called “The Matrix Reprogrammed”. While you await that, why not check out our piece on how The Matrix was heavily influenced by Ghost in the Shell.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The upcoming 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe features a superhero I know almost nothing about, but the last time that happened, we got Guardians of the Galaxy, so colour me excited for something fresh and different. Shang-Chi features an all-Asian cast and director and will see the big-screen debut of the Mandarin (Tony Leung) proper, not that misfire that was Guy Pearce’s portrayal in Iron Man 3. Simu Liu stars as Shang-Chi, who is a master of Kung Fu in the comics so I’m hoping for some awesome hand to hand combat scenes. Let’s just hope Marvel doesn’t chop them to bits in the editing room.
The Suicide Squad
So let me just get it out there: I hated Suicide Squad. It’s one of the few movies that I didn’t finish (I checked out in the bar scene). Which is a shame, because I remember the trailers being stylish, edited to the music. I thought the movie would have style, personality, maybe something like Guardians of the Galaxy. Well, Warner Bros must’ve read my mind because they hired James Gunn to direct this sequel/reboot and he’s amassed a redonkulous cast and Gunn has even said that the DC movie is even bigger than his two Marvel offerings. I enjoyed Guardians for its banter between its characters, its grimy attitude, sly humour and big heart and I hope that Squad can save this franchise for me.
Godzilla vs Kong
Was Godzilla: King of the Monsters a great movie? Nope, but it was fun and when it comes to my monster movies, that’s what I want. I can’t say I enjoyed Kong: Skull Island though, which makes me a little worried about this upcoming confrontation, but I remain optimistic that it’ll at least be fun. It brings some of the characters from King of the Monsters to this sequel as well as some new ones, such as Alexander Skarsgård in the lead role. Here’s hoping we get Mechagodzilla or Mechagidhora at some point.
Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick was one of the most anticipated flicks for me in 2020, but I’m glad it was delayed and not put on streaming. This is a movie that you’d want to see on an IMAX for the practical flight scenes alone. I do worry that Tom Cruise will end up pushing himself too far with his action films one day, but you can’t deny he makes memorable and jaw-dropping set-pieces and I’m certain these flight scenes will rank high on a list of all-time best stunts. The story sees Maverick working as a flight instructor while Miles Teller steps into the shoes of Bradley Bradshaw, aka Rooster, the son of Goose from the first film. Val Kilmer also returns as Iceman, while Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris (among others) join the cast.
My thoughts on Afterlife didn’t change since last year, nor has there been any new information, so I’ll just paraphrase what I said last year:
At first, I was not down for more Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters II was a rehash and the 2016 reboot landed with a thud. Then the trailer for Afterlife dropped. Directed by Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, the film features new characters and a new setting while serving as a sequel of sorts to the storyline of the original films as we follow the grandchildren of Egon Spengler, who was played by the late Harold Ramis. It looks fun, charming, nostalgic and surprisingly original, despite being a belated sequel and seems to capture a bit of that 1980s Steven Spielberg magic in the process. Didn’t see this one coming.
After Shang-Chi, we get another MCU film where I have no previous information other than passing hearsay. The series follows a race of celestial immortals called Eternals, who have been living on Earth for over 7000 years. After Endgame, the race are forced out of hiding in order to confront their counterparts, the nefarious Deviants. Eternals has a pretty amazing cast, including the likes of Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, and Barry Keoghan. It seems like Marvel’s phase 4 is going to be wacky and weird and I hope this feels epic and not just like another superhero film.
Clint Eastwood has been on a roll lately, having dropped The Mule and more specifically, Richard Jewell in recent years. The veteran director doesn’t always land, but with him being on something of a mini streak right now, I’m hoping he’ll keep it going with his upcoming film Cry Macho. Based on the 1975 book of the same name, Eastwood will also star in the movie as Mike, a former rodeo star whose boss hires Mike to essentially kidnap his own son, who is living with his alcoholic mother across the border in Mexico. What follows is a world-weary road trip movie through rural Mexico and Texas as the old man teaches the kid about life and begins to redeem himself in the process.
The Many Saints of Newark
The marketing is really going to have to make this clear because, at first glance, you won’t know what this movie really is. I’m sure it’ll work great as a standalone, but The Many Saints of Newark is actually a prequel to the highly acclaimed television series, The Sopranos. Alessandro Nivola stars as Dickie, Christopher’s uncle from the series while Michael Gandolfini will step into his late father’s shoes by playing a young Tony Soprano. The film takes place in the 60s and 70s and will allow us to see the rise of the crime family. The film is directed by Alan Taylor, who has found success as a Game of Thrones director, but has also given us Terminator: Genysis, so fingers crossed he delivers here. The movie is, of course, written by David Chase, the creator of the series, and Lawrence Konner, a veteran writer on the show.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
What can I say, I’m a 90s baby, so Space Jam was the coolest thing ever at the time and I have nostalgia goggles on when it comes to that flick. Many people hate it, but it seems those who were kids in the 90s love it, so here’s hoping the sequel is a fun time with the Looney gang. LeBron James steps into the lead role this time around, as himself of course, with Don Cheadle playing the antagonist, an evil AI.
Spiral: From The Book of Saw
So I’ve only really seen the first Saw movie, which is a brilliant suspense thriller, but clips from the second film onward didn’t inspire me to even try out the rest of the franchise. But when I saw the first trailer for Spiral, my interest shot up. A sort of reboot of the franchise starring Chris Rock (who also serves as an executive producer on the movie), the film promises to be more a psychological cop thriller in the vein of Seven, with director Darren Lynn Bousman stating his movie will be more about character, tension and thrills, rather than violence and gore as a killer leads the police through a series of crime scenes that are reminiscent of some of the brutal murders seen throughout the franchise. Colour me very intrigued.
James Wan has become one of my favourite horror and suspense directors of the past 20 years, so it’s no surprise that I’m excited for his return to his signature genre after exploring big blockbusters in the form of Furious 7 and Aquaman. The story is wholly originally too, with Wan being credited as one of the writers as well. Aside from the cast, which includes Annabelle Wallis, Jake Abel, George Young, Maddie Hasson, Michole Briana White, Jacqueline McKenzie and Mckenna Grace, we know nothing else about the movie. But that air of mystery and James Wan’s expertise behind the camera alone are enough to be excited.
Mission: Impossible 7
The Mission: Impossible franchise is like fine wine: they keep getting better with age. The last three, in particular, have been nothing short of excellent in their own ways, which makes me incredibly excited for the upcoming 7th film, Tom Cruise meltdown on set notwithstanding. The film is once again directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who has helmed the last two films. The 7th film is actually the first part of a two-film arc, with an eighth film being shot at the same time due in November 2022, so expect some epic action and high stakes in these films. Tom Cruise will be joined by the likes of Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett and Frederick Schmidt while Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, and Esai Morales join the franchise.
No Time To Die
No Time To Die is that movie that I’ve been waiting on seemingly longer than it has been. The 25th Bond film was the one movie that actor Daniel Craig never wanted to do, to the point where he said he’d rather slash his own wrists than return as 007. But return he did in a film that’s directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of Maniac and the first season of True Detective. I’ve actively been avoiding any promos or news stories about the movie since the first teaser dropped over a year ago, but I am aware that there is a new 007 courtesy of Lashana Lynch’s Nomi, which definitely breaks up the formula. If it comes to it, I’d rather MGM delay the movie again than opting to put it on a streaming service, this is one of those movies that should be appreciated on the big screen.
Well, here’s something I didn’t think I’d be writing about, but here we are. There’s a new Mortal Kombat movie coming out. Why am I excited about it? Well for one, James Wan is producing it. For another, Joe Taslim from The Raid is co-starring as Sub-Zero while Ludi Lin is tasked with playing Liu Kang. All I want, all I need, is fun, well-choreographed martial arts action and I’ll be satisfied. I’m a simple man, I don’t want this to be cut up and edited to hell. In another great bit of news, the movie will be R-rated. Fatality.
The Green Knight
I’m quite happy The Green Knight was delayed as opposed to going straight to streaming. This doesn’t look like your typical action blockbuster, but rather a big-budget indie film. This is a reimagining of the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the Arthurian legends, but there’s something grim and dark about this imagining of the tale. The teaser has almost a horror movie vibe going on and feels deeply unsettling, which makes it wholly unique for a fantasy medieval story. Sign me up.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
So Justice League came out in 2016, but due to the misfire that was the theatrical release, which saw Joss Whedon take over for Zach Snyder after the loss of his daughter. The theatrical cut, mired by studio controlled and conflicting directorial styles, was a mixed bag. Now, after years of fan campaigning, we’re getting the Snyder Cut on HBO Max and it’s set to be released as four episodes, each an hour-long, or as a four-hour epic afterwards. That’s a lot of unseen content and Snyder has promised he won’t use any footage that Whedon used, making this truly his vision. Will it fix the problems of the original movie? Time will tell, but this is such a unique moment, where a director can come back to a movie they had to leave and rerelease it years after the fact. Warner Bros has recently said that the movie won’t be considered canon, but I don’t think fans will likely care what WB has to say about it as long as it’s good. And it better be good, as this version of the movie cost an additional $70 million to bring to life due to reshoots and finishing up the special effects, as well as scoring and editing.
A Quiet Place Part II
Do we need a sequel to A Quiet Place? I’d say probably not, as the first movie was just so great and stands on its own. That said, I’m very curious to see what director John Krasinski does for the follow-up, which sees the Abbott family leave the safety of their home and navigate the hostile environment, where the creatures aren’t the only threats to them.
Those Who Wish Me Dead
Those Who Wish Me Dead is an upcoming neo-western film by one of my favourite writers and directors working in Hollywood today, Taylor Sheridan. He’s written Hell or High Water, Sicario, Wind River and Yellowstone, so I’m always eager to see what he’s going to do next. Angelina Jolie, Nicolas Hoult, Jon Bernthal, Tyler Perry and Aiden Gillen star in this western set in Montana, where a teenager witnesses the murder and is subsequently pursued by twin assassins. With the help of a survivalist, the teenager must race to safety while the assassins and a wildfire hunt them down. Sheridan opts for simple stories and shies away from things like exposition and needless talking, making his stories gripping and realistic.
I put this one here on a whim. I’m not super excited for the upcoming G.I. Joe spinoff film, Snake Eyes, but everything star Henry Golding has been saying about the movie certainly has piqued my curiosity. Golding has stated that director “Robert [Schwentke] is a huge Japanese cinephile, everything from [Akira] Kurosawa to just the phenomenal Spaghetti Westerns of samurai movies[…] He is so hooked into that history and we see some of those scenes. With some of the fight scenes there are some chimbara sequences” and that the movie “is the exact opposite of the cookie cutter, super people movies”. Now, it may be too much to hope for a modern Kurosawa feature from a G.I. Joe spinoff, but having Kurosawa being spoken about in the context of this film is the last thing I was expecting, and my expectations are low, but here’s hoping this movie can defy my expectations and actually deliver a good, samurai-inspired action film and not a generic action movie like the last two G.I. Joe movies were. Oh, and Iko Uwais of The Raid fame also co-stars.
Little is known about Ridley Scott’s upcoming Gucci film, including whose actually in it (the IMDb page lists some actors as “rumoured”) but with Adam Driver and Lady Gaga seemingly confirmed and Al Pacino and Jared Leto seemingly all but confirmed, this impressive cast will bring to life the attempted murder of Maurizio Gucci, Guccio Gucci’s grandson, by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani.
The Last Duel
The Last Duel is another upcoming film by Ridley Scott that was supposed to be released in 2020. It stars Matt Damon and Adam Driver as medieval knights in 14th century France, with Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener. Based on documented events, the film follows a trial by combat between best friends Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, who is accused of raping de Carrouges’ wife. It sounds like a western, not unlike Unforgiven, but brought back to medieval Europe. I’m curious to see what Damon and Affleck, who co-wrote Good, Will Hunting together and Scott (Gladiator) can do together.
My most anticipated movie of last year is undeniably my most anticipated movie of this year. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Dune is an adaptation of the book by Frank Herbert and stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem. Considering that cast and that Villeneuve is one of the best working directors in the industry today, I’m incredibly excited and if you are as well, you should pick up the book and read it before it comes out this October. It’s one of the best sci-fi books ever written and was incredibly influential on other properties, including a little space opera called Star Wars. Here’s hoping the movie does well, as it’s actually only an adaptation of the first half of the first book. Warner Bros has signed a deal to make a second one, but that’s entirely dependent on the success of the first film. After huge backlash from Villeneuve and his cast concerning the film launching on HBO Max on the same day, there is the word that a lawsuit from Legendary, who is financing Dune, could see the movie debut solely on the big screen.
With Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx confirmed to be returning to the big screen as Doc Ock and Electro once more, many fans have been speculating that the multiverse illustrated in the excellent Into the Spider-Verse is making its way to live-action. Peter Parker is likely a wanted teenager after the events of the last movie and Doctor Strange will likely end up messing with the timeline to try and fix this if I had to guess. But this would more than likely create a rift which, if the rumours are to be believed, will bring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield back as their respective interpretations of Spider-Man. This is either going to be amazing (heh) or it’s going to be a disaster of too many ideas. Just like the last Spider-Man 3.
The Halloween sequel/soft reboot came as a surprise hit for everyone when it came out in 2018. That film wiped out the complicated and messy Halloween canon, tossing out all the sequels in favour of telling a direct follow up to the original, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode dealing with some serious PTSD since the events of the first film and has spent the last forty years preparing for Michael’s inevitable return. Now, we get a sequel to the sequel that sees Laurie and her family return once again against Michael Myers, who survived the events of the first film. Curtis said the film feels timely and offers subtle commentary on modern events, stating:
“What we were seeing around the country of the power, of the rage of voices, big groups of people coming together enraged at the set of circumstances, that’s what the movie is. The movie is about a mob. And so it’s very interesting because it takes on what happens when trauma infects an entire community.”
Man, writing these lists every year is exhausting, but I hope this benefits you and gets you excited for the upcoming movie slate. Here’s hoping things aren’t too distributed this year. Happy viewing! Let us know what movie you’re most excited for!