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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

Last Night in Soho (October 22)

2021 is proving Edgar Wright to be a double threat, with already one critically-acclaimed film (the dynamic documentary The Sparks Brothers) under his belt and set to release next month. And four months later, Wright’s highly-anticipated horror film Last Night in Soho is due to hit theaters too. In production since 2019 and a premise kept entirely under wraps, little is known about Wright’s first narrative feature since 2017’s Baby Driver beyond the genre, the setting (London), and a vague plot concerned with a hopeful fashion designer who is mysteriously sent to the 1960s, where she meets her idol – and where things are not as they seem. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Mackenzie, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, and features the final film roles of both Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan. Wright’s films are singular, entertaining, and always a blast to see with a crowd, even if the one we’ll get by October of this year will probably have to be socially distanced. (Brianna Zigler)

Antlers (October 29)

If the trailer for Antlers was any indication, it looks like we could have a truly terrifying new horror movie on our hands. From director Scott Cooper (Hostiles, Black Mass), produced by monster maestro Guillermo del Toro, and co-written by Channel Zero creator and showrunner Nick Antosca (the screenplay is adapted from his own short story), the trailer began haunting dreams over a year and a half ago in October 2019. However, its slated release of April 17, 2020, was pulled due to the pandemic. After being scheduled for a February 2021 release and being pulled yet a second time, Antlers seems to have found a (hopefully) permanent home on October 29th of this year. The gruesome-looking folktale stars Jesse Plemons as a cop and Keri Russell as his small-town schoolteacher sister, who becomes convinced that one of her students, a young boy, may be harboring a supernatural monster in his home. Though the film is Cooper’s first foray into horror after a string of crime dramas, Antlers feels like it might be a perfect film to see in a theater with a (socially distanced) audience, as the disturbing, sharply-edited trailer alone could elicit shrieks. (Brianna Zigler)

Eternals (November 5)

The MCU as we know it is changing. Eternals paired with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. A whole lot of new toys are being dumped on the playground. With them come new personalities and new emotions to devastate. Phase Four feels a bit like a reboot, the closest thing we’ve had to Phase One. What’s the next threat? How will these separate franchises connect and come together for the next big Avengers event? Eternals is going to be a major factor in this progression. A film we know little about, but one we’ll certainly not want to miss. And based on what little we’ve already seen, it’s clear that it won’t look like your average color-corrected extravaganza. Chloé Zhao, did you get the MCU to include an actual sunset? You truly do deserve that Oscar. (Brad Gullickson)

Top Gun: Maverick (November 19)

If anyone is capable of truly reinvigorating the theatrical experience, it’s gotta be Tom Cruise. The movie star/insurance liability takes on action movies with the gusto of a showman constantly trying to one-up himself. But more than just exhilarating stunts, Cruise is a natural performer, he’s charismatic and committed, and he consistently delivers. There are few actors who could return to one of the movies that made them famous 30 years ago and release a sequel without it coming across as an inevitably disappointing cash grab. But not only are there no doubts that Cruise is still up for the high-stakes action that he delivered in Top Gun but there’s also no doubt that he’s capable of taking things to new heights with Maverick. I’d also wager it’s worth seeing other movies in IMAX just to see the Maverick trailer on the big screen. Think of it as micro-dosing the spectacle. (Anna Swanson)

House of Gucci (November 24)

Lady Gaga as a pithy Italian socialite who says things like “I would rather weep in a Rolls Royce than be happy on a bicycle”. Adam Driver as the adulterous ex and fashion tycoon she orders a hit against. Costumes and props pulled directly out of Gucci’s archives. House of Gucci is, by all accounts, a capital-p Production, epic in scope and maximalist in detail in the way we’ve come to expect from Ridley Scott. Based on a salacious true story about greed, glamour, betrayal, and murder, Gucci follows the 1995 killing of fashion house emperor Maurizio Gucci on the orders of his ex-wife and the resulting trial, during which Gaga’s character came to be dubbed “Black Widow”. With an ensemble that includes Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons as patriarchs on either side of a family feud, Gucci is evidence of Scott’s continued fascination with the power of money to corrupt and destroy the closest of bonds (it follows 2017’s Getty family crime thriller All the Money in the World). Though that last film didn’t perform as well as expected at the box office, Scott’s movies have collectively pulled in over four billion dollars worldwide, and Gucci, with its prestige credentials and Gaga’s involvement, looks to be the kind of event movie that audiences have been deprived of over the last year — good news for movie-goers and struggling theaters alike. (Farah Cheded)

Untitled PTA (“Soggy Bottom”) (November 26)

Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project — or Soggy Bottom if you’re nasty — will see the director returning to the San Fernando valley after his jaunt across the pond for Phantom Thread. The film is set in the 1970s and follows a high school student and child actor, played by Cooper Hoffman, son of Anderson’s longtime collaborator Philip Seymour Hoffman. There’s already an incredibly bittersweet quality to seeing the late actor’s son work with Anderson and there will surely be an emotional heft to the film with this in mind. Based on what we know, there are some Boogie Nights vibes going on with the film, and it’ll be interesting to see Anderson, coming off the heels of arguably his most mature film, returning to the sleaze and splendor of the Valley in the 70s. Even though we don’t know a whole lot about the movie so far, Anderson’s status as one of the best directors working right now is enough to ensure that anticipation is already building for this one. (Anna Swanson)

Nightmare Alley (December 3)

Guillermo del Toro’s next film – his first directed feature since 2017’s Best Picture Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water – will be the second adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name (the first one from 1947 and starring Tyrone Power). This updated version features an all-star, ensemble cast including Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, and quite a few more names, in a plot that follows Cooper’s carny Stan Carlisle going into cahoots with dangerous psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Blanchett). Co-written by del Toro alongside film critic Kim Morgan, little is known about the exact plot of the film and how closely or divergently it will adhere to the source material. As it will be the director’s first helmed film in four years, it’s relieving to know that it will make the cut for the post-vaccine, in-person screening world. Del Toro films are anything if not staggeringly stylish, awe-inspiring delights, whose monsters (no matter how big or small) always deserve to be seen on the biggest screen possible. (Brianna Zigler)

West Side Story (December 10)

Steven Spielberg has been aching to make a musical for a long time. Go watch the opening to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom one more time. He couldn’t get it out there, but the West Side Story remake is his final shot. And Spielberg doesn’t shy from expectation. Sure, West Side Story is a beloved Best Picture and a film that’s burned itself into the psyche of millions, but that doesn’t mean he can’t fix a few things and add his own touch. The director is a tinkerer! From what we saw during the Oscars trailer, the film has a spark of the original, but it’s shooting for a different look. DP Janusz Kaminski wants to get saturated, and we want him to saturate us. Spielberg is going big with West Side Story. If he whiffs, a typhoon will rock the other side of the world and we’ll never let him forget it. If he smashes it out of the park, planets will shatter. I’m rooting for some musical devastation. (Brad Gullickson)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17)

Spider-Man: No Way Home is tossing it all in there. Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. Jamie Foxx as Electro. Andrew, Tobey, and Tom all swinging through New York City? Maybe. Propelling itself from the success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and positioning itself as a critical link connecting to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the third MCU Spidey wants to drain fandom’s wallet. Smashing every Spider-Man franchise into one will raise a lot of eyebrows, and fans of each Spider-Man will be unable to resist temptation. Whether you think it will work or not, you won’t want to miss the insanity. Seeing these various figures punching each other across franchises is exactly what big dumb blockbusters are all about. If Sony and Marvel Studios can inject just the tiniest ounce of intelligence into it as well, then they’ll pull off an incredible hat-trick. (Brad Gullickson)

The Matrix 4 (December 22)

Similar to my feelings about seeing Dune for the first time, I expect that there is no scenario in which I’d watch the fourth entry in The Matrix franchise via a streaming device. Lana Wachowski didn’t re-assemble the dynamic duo of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss just so that I could re-enter this fantastic sci-fi world on a small screen. Wachowski and co. did not develop some kind of innovative, industry-changing camera rigs so that we could all watch it on our phones, either. The Matrix belongs on the big screen. (Neil Miller)

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