Where have you been for the past year if not on the sofa? Don’t get up just yet, though: 2021 is packed full of excellent new films to keep you glued to the cushions for now (and racing to the cinema when restrictions lift). Here, we round up the best of the bunch, along with the release dates to mark in your diary. Popcorn, anyone?
This moving take on the neo-Western drama, which has already picked up gongs at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards and is tipped to win an Oscar when the time comes, is well worth downloading for a Saturday night. Starring Academy Award winner Frances McDormand (who also produced the film) as Fern, a woman who leaves her home to travel around America after losing her job and her husband, this is a hard-hitting but touching watch. Exploring hardship, relationships and what it means to call a place your home, it will stay with you long after the final credits.
Available to stream now on Hulu.
Daniel Kaluuya (who you’ll know from Get Out, Black Panther, Queen & Slim and a host of other hits) is mesmerising as the lead in Judas and the Black Messiah, a biographical drama about Fred Hampton. Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-Sixties Chicago, Hampton was betrayed by William O’Neal, an FBI informant, played by Lakeith Stanfield. This is a passionate, fiercely forthright film, with the two main characters giving equally barnstorming performances that bounce off each other to can’t-look-away effect. Eleven out of ten.
Scheduled to be in cinemas and available on BFI Player from 11th March.
Carey Mulligan has won industry applause across the board for her role in Promising Young Woman (which has already won numerous awards) and rightly so: she shines as the wickedly smart Cassie, determined to get her revenge on the not-so ‘nice guys’ who prey on vulnerable women. Written, produced and directed by Emerald Fennel (yes, that Emerald Fennel from The Crown, who also worked on series two of Killing Eve), this is a modern, peppy take on the #MeToo thriller.
Available to pre-order here.
Emma Stone happily steps into Glenn Close’s formidable (most likely spike-heeled) shoes as Cruella de Vil in Disney’s Cruella, a prequel to 101 Dalmations, which will chart Cruella’s earlier life in 1970s London. All the regular characters (including sidekicks Jasper and Horace) are present and correct, but don’t be fooled into thinking this will be a soft, children’s flick – judging by the trailer, Stone is bringing a whole new, bizarre-yet-brilliant twist to the role, with some epic outfits and Cruella’s signature hair to boot.
Scheduled for cinema release in May.
Postponed due to Covid (and, somewhat excitingly, to allow for what production are calling ‘complex flight sequences’), the sequel to Tom Cruise’s most iconic performance finally has a 2021 release date. Both Cruise and Val Kilmer are reprising their roles from the first film, while Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm are joining the cast – so you can expect this to be an action-packed treat, filled with aviators, boiler suits and many moody stares into the middle distance.
Scheduled for cinema release on 2nd July.
The latest Bond flick is another film that’s had its release date chopped and changed thanks to the pandemic, but thankfully, Britain’s most lethal weapon will be back on screens this autumn. Starring Daniel Craig in his final outing as the much-loved spy alongside a cast including Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Rami Malek and Lashana Lynch – oh, and with a screenplay by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, no less – we can safely say this one will knock it out of the park. BRB, mixing our martinis already.
Scheduled for release in cinemas on 30th September.
A slightly more offbeat choice is Dune, a science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve, based on the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. Set in the far future on a dangerous desert planet, Arrakis, the story centres around the most valuable substance in the universe – ‘the spice’ – and the risks humans must take to get it. So far, so weird, right? But whether sci-fi is your bag or not, you’ll want to see this for its excellent cast, which includes Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin and Zendaya (so whatever your preferences, you can be sure this will be a goodie).
Scheduled for release in cinemas on 1st October.
Really, how could you not be bookmarking a film that stars Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Adam Driver and Jared Leto? Frankly explosive cast aside, House of Gucci is set to be one of autumn’s biggest blockbusters. Directed by industry heavyweight Ridley Scott, this biographical crime film is based on the murder of former head of the Gucci fashion house Maurizio Gucci by his ex-wife, Patrizia. Judging by the promotional shots already released, we can expect high-octane glam, a lot of white fur and Gaga as murderess Patrizia, posing in a whopping amount of bling. Sold.
Scheduled for release on 26th November.