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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

The Northman

Sitting in the highest tier of 2021 ensemble explosiveness is the next film from the much-acclaimed writer-director Robert Eggers, who — after making two much smaller, albeit riveting, films — is emerging with his nine-figure-budget debut. The story follows a Nordic prince in the 10th century seeking revenge for the murder of his father. Alexander Skarsgard (the prince), Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, and Ralph Ineson lead the starry cast. And last, but certainly not least, comes Björk, who will be making her first film appearance since her reportedly dreadful experience on Dancer in the Dark, which left her with a Best Actress trophy at Cannes in 2000. Eggers’ 2019 sophomore feature, The Lighthouse, made bigger waves at Cannes in the Director’s Fortnight section than almost every film in the official competition or otherwise. The buzz coming into this one is palpable. (Luke Hicks)


Before Leos Carax’s Annette opens Cannes in mid-July, Edgar Wright’s The Sparks Brothers will drop on June 18, 2021. Whatever you do, don’t miss it. Wright’s documentary is an engrossing, awe-inspiring, hilarious, gorgeous, and transparent look at one of the most eclectic music duos ever to create. And if you love music, it will blow your mind that you aren’t already aware of them. Why am I writing about this instead of Annette, you ask? Because Annette is a Sparks brothers musical, and while that might mean nothing to you now, ten mere minutes into learning about who the Sparks brothers are, the idea of a musical production under their name blows past the highest expectations you could muster beforehand. Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard lead in Carax’s first film since Holy Motors, a masterpiece that has cemented itself among all-timers in less than a decade. (Luke Hicks)


The info on Lucrecia Martel’s Chocobar is sparse, but the expectations are high…and a little confused, to be honest. The last time the Argentine writer-producer-director made her voice heard was at the Venice International Film Festival in 2019, where she presided over the jury that awarded Joker the top prize. Joker is far from a carbon copy of the dull superhero content Marvel mechanically produces, but it remains a puzzling choice at the hands of Martel, who has gained notoriety for the way she so casually shrugs off comic book studios. Most notably, she more or less laughed at Marvel when they asked her to direct Black Widow. Interested at first, she quickly learned that she would not be allowed to shoot action sequences, make VFX changes, or have a final say on the soundtrack, among other things. Martel knows her creative efforts are wasted in an environment like that. And lucky for us, she charged ahead into her own work. The story centers on the murder of an Argentine activist, Javier Chocabar, and his community under fire. If it’s even half as good as her last, Zama, we have much to look forward to. (Luke Hicks)

Gunpowder Milkshake

This is one of the few movies from Netflix’s massive release schedule that made our list. The streaming giant doesn’t make it easy to figure out which of its movies will actually end up in theaters, so consider this one a hope for audiences in the US and from the looks of things, a promise for audiences internationally. This long-anticipated action thriller that features Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) team up as a mother-daughter gang of John Wick-style assassins felt like the kind of movie I’d want to see on the big screen even before the release of its wild first trailer. Action movies on the big screen! Let’s go, Netflix! You know you want to do it. (Neil Miller)

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Before director George Miller melts our faces off again with wasteland-related chaos in Furiosa, he will offer us this intimate fantasy drama about a scholar who has a long conversation with a Djinn in a hotel room in Istanbul. The film stars Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton and was described by its director as being “epic in scope,” which is pretty exciting given its otherwise simple premise. Due to pandemic-related delays, this one didn’t begin filming until November 2020, so there’s a chance that it might slip to next year on the release calendar. That said, we’re ready for your next adventure whenever you are, George. (Neil Miller)

Prisoners of the Ghostland

A year in movies wouldn’t feel quite right without at least one extremely weird Nicolas Cage movie on the schedule. Enter the English-language debut of the legendary Sion Sono, a film that, as our Rob Hunter pointed out when he reviewed this film out of Sundance, involves exploding testicles. We should expect nothing less from this pairing. (Neil Miller)

After Yang

For those who, like many of us, were captivated by Kogonada’s debut feature, Columbus, there is hope that his sophomore effort will grace our screens in 2021. The A24-produced sci-fi drama tells the story of a family in a near-future world that tries to save the life of their robotic child babysitter and features a small, but talented cast that includes Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Haley Lu Richardson, and Clifton Collins Jr. It feels like the exact sort of film that might fit nicely in the line-up of a big fall film festival and then hit theaters closer to the end of the year. (Neil Miller)

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, and Denzel Washington take on Shakespeare? Can you even get any better than that? Is this even worth expanding on? The film is based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name, which is already promising as the source material has produced a seemingly endless bounty of excellent film adaptations. Add a Coen, and you’re in pretty great shape. For those who are a bit fuzzy on your high school English memories, Macbeth follows a Scottish general named Macbeth who is next in line to become King of Scotland. His wife convinces him to kill the current king, but his murderous rampage doesn’t stop there. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with a story that killer, and with such a stellar cast and crew on board, plus A24 distributing, fair is foul, and foul is fair. (Aurora Amidon)

Red Rocket

In his first feature since the beautiful 2017 film The Florida Project, director Sean Baker will explore the life of a wash-up adult film star returning to his small Texas hometown. And while Mr. Baker is certainly welcome to take whatever time he needs to get it right, it would be truly lovely to have his new work as part of our 2021 watchlist. Like many of the movies in the latter part of this list, Red Rocket has completed principal photography (as of November 2020), so, you know, fingers crossed. (Neil Miller)


We don’t know much about Terrance Davies’ new film outside of the fact that it stars Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi, each playing World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon at different points in his life. But it will be nice to have some new work to enter into Davis’ notoriously sporadic filmography. (Neil Miller)


It isn’t necessary for us to know more about this film than the fact that it is directed by Claire Denis and stars Juliette Binoche. It’s that simple. (Neil Miller)

Decision to Leave

The latest update on Park Chan-wook’s next feature is that it began filming in late December 2020. Five months later, that’s not a great sign if we’re hoping that this film will be in theaters by the end of 2021, but we can always hope. This is part of our wish list, after all. (Neil Miller)

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