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68 Movies We Can’t Wait to Watch in Theaters in 2021

No matter when you decide to return to theaters, there’s no doubt that there will be great movies to watch in 2021.
Movies to Watch 2021
By  · Published on May 26th, 2021

Black Widow (July 9)

Black Widow is a weird one. As one of the first films to get repeatedly bumped during the early days of lockdown, the energy around the film dampened quickly. And since we all know Natasha perished in Avengers: Endgame, the film appears to offer little in regards to expanding the MCU. Franchise prequels have a bad wrap. Still, the trailers look exciting enough, and Black Widow is long overdue for a starring adventure. Knowing now that Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova will feature prominently in the franchise’s future and that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ nefarious Contessa will most likely appear as well, Black Widow is shaping into an essential ingredient. Plus, Jac Schaeffer’s work on this film’s screenplay got her the gig on WandaVision. That show wasn’t too shabby. Black Widow is a deceptive entry. We’re underestimating this flick. All director Cate Shortland has to achieve is some incredible action and tie a few strands together. Boom. Thumbs up. And if David Harbour ain’t lying on his Instagram, and Ursa Major shows up alongside the Red Guardian??? Whoa, watch out. Meme sensation. (Brad Gullickson)

The Forever Purge (July 9)

Does the world really need a fifth Purge movie? It’s debatable, to say the least. That said, after a pandemic year that saw the rich get richer at the expense of the poor and working-class, perhaps there will be some catharsis in returning to this high-octane revenge fantasy. Either way, the release of another Purge movie — this one about a group of purgers who decide that one night per year isn’t nearly enough — should provide the right conditions for some raucous midnight screenings. And after a year without hearing a room packed with people collectively cringe at some wild instance of on-screen violence, it could be good for us. So yeah, maybe the world does need a fifth Purge movie. (Neil Miller)

Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16)

Many will contest that Space Jam is a bad film, and many more will contest (and quite possibly be correct) that Space Jam: A New Legacy will be even worse. But for those of us who spent every vacation-bound car ride as a child busting out their portable DVD player and popping in a Space Jam DVD rented from Hollywood Video not once but twice (both ways) during the trip, the importance of this decades-separated follow-up to the 1996 film cannot be stressed. The impending success of this sequel hinges on the devotion of deranged millennials such as myself, who hold the inane tale of Michael Jordan being tasked with playing a basketball game against a group of aliens who have consumed the talent of other basketball stars so that he can save popular Looney Tunes characters being enslaved by the aliens and taken back to their home planet – *deep breath* – with the utmost fondness, and that fondness getting butts into theater seats. Sure, the trailer made the film look like a ghoulishly soulless I.P. display case, but we all have our vices don’t we? (Brianna Zigler)

Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins (July 23)

G.I. Joe movies are not good. I understand a lot of us loved the cartoons and the toys as kids, but is this a franchise we want to keep returning to only for it to fail us so miserably? The answer is, “Hell Yes!” Followed quickly by a “Cobra la la la la la la la!” And let’s be real, by focusing on Snake Eyes, the film is trimming an incredible amount of fat. This is the no-filler, all-thriller G.I. Joe movie. And Henry Golding as Snake Eyes?!?!? Samara Weaving as Scarlett?!?! Iko Uwais as Head Master!!!!! Yo Joe, baby. I’m ready to enlist. (Brad Gullickson)

Old (July 23)

When it comes to M. Night Shyamalan movies, there is only one rule: expect the unexpected. And it looks like his upcoming feature, Old, is no exception. The film follows an unsuspecting family who, while vacationing on a remote beach, suddenly begin to age at the speed of light. Already, fans are theorizing what this might mean, and, of course, what Shyamalan’s signature ending twist will be. Old stars Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Eliza Scanlen, and Alex Wolff, who, based on the trailer alone, are bound to give some pretty intense and emotional performances. And even if Shyamalan isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you have to admit that there is no better way to welcome back the movie-going experience than with one of his crazy, one-of-a-kind films. (Aurora Amidon)

The Green Knight (July 30)

One of the biggest bummers in the first wave of major pandemic delays, The Green Knight was set to premiere at SXSW on March 16, 2020, with a national May release to follow. That obviously didn’t happen. But lots of films would get pushed back, and few would hold the tension as tightly through the pandemic as the “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” adaptation. It had the A24 seal of production, a major talent in David Lowery at the helm, and a teaser that caused a small earthquake among cinephiles in the lushness of imagery alone. The plans for the film sat in darkness for the majority of the pandemic, and as the avalanche broke on other releases, the firm silence from The Green Knight camp suggested they had a winner on their hands and our anticipation was worth it. We’ll get to find out on July 30. In the meantime, the recent trailer has launched already sky-high expectations into orbit, the tonal and spiritual breadth of the long-told story on full display in the range of Dev Patel. If the literary classic’s vetted wisdom and the sumptuous cinematography are any indication of what’s in store, we’re in for a treat. (Luke Hicks)

Jungle Cruise (July 30)

Anyone scoffing at the idea of Disney turning one of their theme park rides into an entertaining adventure film should revisit the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. It’s good, actually. Which is why hope springs eternal for this theme park adaptation starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt. They are sure to charm us and cause plenty of excitement as they fend off CGI reptiles. And we’re being promised that Jesse Plemons will show up really going for it as a mustache-twirling villain. If that’s not enough, there’s also the fact that the film’s director is Jaume Collet-Serra, best known for directing the Blake Lively vs. Killer Shark thriller The Shallows and the Paris Hilton-led 2005 horror film, House of Wax. Adding Jungle Cruise to his resume feels like an interesting, if not odd choice, and I can’t wait to see if some of his more intense sensibilities show up anywhere in this Disney movie. (Neil Miller)

The Suicide Squad (August 6)

The Suicide Squad is dubbed as a “standalone sequel” to David Ayer’s critically and audience-panned 2016 film, but, in my humble opinion, that’s putting it nicely. The 2021 take on the antihero brigade is more like a retconning of DC’s own mess, as they had snagged James Gunn to direct a little too promptly after he was let go briefly by Marvel – a fitting replacement for Ayer since the latter’s film had arguably aped off Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This updated version features many of the familiar faces from the first film: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang. And the jam-packed film has an array of new members too, including some of Gunn’s regular collaborators and friends – Michael Rooker, David Dastmalchian, Nathan Fillion, Gunn’s brother Sean – and eclectic inclusions, like John Cena, comedian Pete Davidson, Peter Capaldi, and director Taika Waititi in an as-yet-undisclosed role. It’ll be interesting to see Gunn helm this when the first film was clearly taking liberties with its “inspiration” from him, and from the trailer, it looks like it’ll be the kind of fun, pop rock-filled romp that the Guardians films are beloved for. (Brianna Zigler)

Ema (August 6)

Not many films coming out in 2021 have taglines that are more gut-wrenching than Pablo Larráin’s Ema. The film follows a young couple: Ema (Mariana Di Girólamo) and Gastón (Gael García Bernal), who adopt a little boy and subsequently give him back when things don’t quite go as planned. When it comes to intense, harrowing family dramas, it looks like Ema might just take the cake. We already know that Larráin is an expert in traversing the nuances of human emotion in the wake of a tragedy from his masterful work with Jackie (2016), so Ema will likely be nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. Unsurprisingly, it looks like it’ll also be full of explosive aesthetics, which, paired with its somber story, promises to make the film even more complex. (Aurora Amidon)

Respect (August 13)

You can count Cats if you want to, but I’m going to say that it’s been a while since we’ve seen Jennifer Hudson in a role that truly utilizes her seemingly infinite acting and singing talent. Telling the life story of the legendary Aretha Franklin feels like the exact kind of role that could unlock Hudson’s power. And with a supporting cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, and (after his stellar performance on GLOW, maybe even) Marc Maron, it seems likely that director Leisl Tommy (who has done some great work in TV on shows like Queen Sugar, Insecure, Jessica Jones, and Mrs. Fletcher) is ready to break into features in a big way. Plus, the music… oh, the music. (Neil Miller)

The King’s Man (August 20)

Matthew Vaughn needs a win. His last Kingsman sequel was a dud and burned a lot of the goodwill created by the first film. If I had been his agent or his manager or whatever, I would have told him to lay off this franchise for a bit. Go find solace in another back-to-basics Layer Cake and let this one rot. Vaughn said, “Forget that nonsense.” If you don’t succeed, try, try again. This time as a prequel, allowing the director to ditch the characters and whatever stink they still hold from the other two films. The King’s Man trailer looks tip-top, and I’m excited about a directorial redemption story. I want to be in that theater with a bunch of others when he pulls it off. (Brad Gullickson)

The Protégé (August 20)

It’s been four years since director Martin Campbell had a movie on the big screen with the 2017 Jackie Chan actioner The Foreigner. And even longer since he’s delivered something truly great (looking at you, Casino Royale). In 2021, he’ll at least get a chance to show us if he’s still got the touch with this thriller about contract killers played by Samiel L. Jackson and Maggie Q. Toss in supporting roles for Robert Patrick and Michael Keaton and a script from Richard Wenk (The Equalizer, The Mechanic, 16 Blocks) and sure, I’ll see that on a Friday afternoon. (Neil Miller)

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