So… 2020 didn’t pan out as hoped. Fast and Furious 9, No Time to Die, and Dune were all pushed back when COVID-19 hit. And then they were delayed to 2021 with the second wave. Wonder Woman 1984 debuts on HBO Max (in the USA) and on premium VOD (in Canada) the same day it releases in theatres. No one could have predicted that a pandemic would define so much of this year, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it only illuminates just how bad everything was. Still, we are approaching a new year, finally out of 2020’s grasp.
They might not be in theatres depending how the year goes, but these most anticipated films of 2021 have us excited for the new year whatever form of release they get. Some of the entries on this list are films that were intended to be released in 2020. Let’s run it back and hope they don’t show up again for 2022’s most anticipated.
All you can say is “we’ll see.”
*non-theatrical/video release in Canada to be announced for HBO Max titles.
The Most Anticipated Films of 2021
Candyman (Aug. 2021)
It’s been a decade since the last Cabrini tower was torn down, but the citizens of Chicago still don’t dare to speak the name Candyman. Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) team up to rejuvenate one of the original socially conscious horror icons for a new generation. Compelling in its own right, Candyman is sure to inspire discussion about the cost of not reckoning with your past.
The Night House (TBD)
Social distancing and isolation made our homes feel like personal horror films this year, but that doesn’t begin to cut it for David Bruckner’s follow-up to 2017’s The Ritual. Alone in the beautiful home that her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) built for her, Beth (Rebecca Hall), uncovers secrets in the seemingly perfect house. As each successive discovery leads viewers to wonder whether Beth is unravelling from grief or something more sinister, the confines of your home will frighten you all over again.
Halloween Kills (Oct. 2021)
Deep down Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) knew that it wouldn’t be that easy. That taking out Michael Myers would need more than one evening. Early word is that Halloween Kills is far more brutal than the 2018 film, and the 32-second teaser didn’t disappoint. Laurie and two more generations of final girls drive away from the house only to pass a line of fire trucks on their way to put out the fire. 2018’s Halloween is good enough to close the book on the Michael Myers mythos, but if the take on vigilante justice, survival, and the power of collective rage is as promising as Curtis teases, we’re in for a treat.
Judas and the Black Messiah (in theatres and on HBO Max* Feb. 12)
The story of Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) ended violently at the hands of Chicago PD and the FBI, but they weren’t alone. Habitual criminal William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) and his handler Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) played a large part in the fateful betrayal of Hampton. Judas and the Black Messiah looks to feature heavyweight turns from both Kaluuya and Stanfield while boasting a relatively ignored aspect of the U.S.’s shameful racial history.
Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sundance)
After the cosmic horror of Mandy and Color Out of Space, one might expect Nicolas Cage to dial it back a little — ah, who am I kidding? Working with the visionary Sion Sono, Cage goes into the Ghostland, “an East-meets-West vortex of beauty and violence,” to save an abducted girl. Together, they’ll have to break an evil curse that binds them. The plot is shades of Escape from New York, but I’m sure that between Cage and Sion Sono, there will be plenty of surprises in store.
On the Count of Three (Sundance)
Two best friends, played by Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Abbott, have a pact: at the end of the day each man will take his life. Carmichael is directing (his first such outing) the film from a script by Ramy co-creators Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch. I’ve missed Carmichael’s regular appearances since The Carmichael Show left NBC, but, hopefully, this feature means we’ll be seeing a lot more him.
Deep Water (Aug. 2021)
Adrian Lyne, the patron saint of erotic thrillers after Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful, is back to perhaps nudge the new decade into something a little more sultry. Ben Affleck stars a husband of means who looks the other way regarding his wife’s (Ana de Armas) affairs. That is, until he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of one of her lovers. Deep Water could very well be a flop or it could be Gone Girl 2.0. At the very least, we got some interesting interesting photos of Affleck and de Armas as a real-life item out of it.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (TBD)
File this one under meta-as-hell. Nicolas Cage plays himself, desperate to land a role in the new Quentin Tarantino flick, while also dealing with substantial debt, a teenage daughter who doesn’t care about him, and the upcoming paid appearance at a billionaire drug kingpin’s birthday bash. Oh, and did I mention he will also be playing a younger version of himself? Cage Prime gets to tag along and pester old man Cage about the state of his career, recreating his roles from Face/Off, Con Air, and Leaving Las Vegas.
Dune (October 1st in theatres and HBO Max*)
This is the second feature film attempt at Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel on the big screen. While David Lynch’s film has its own followers, Warner Bros. hopes this adaptation makes more of a connection with moviegoers *checks notes* HBO Max subscribers. Timothée Chalamet stars as the heir to the Atreides throne in an absolutely stacked cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, and Stellan Skarsgård. The trailer promises outstanding visuals, although the real test will be how Denis Villeneuve and co. condense a 900-page tome into a tight film. Dune was one of our most anticipated films of 2020, and it’s still one of our most anticipated films of 2021.
Last Night in Soho (Apr. 2021)
A new Edgar Wright film is always something to look forward to. When it was announced his next feature would be horror-based and inspired by Don’t Look Now and Repulsion, that shot expectations through the roof. Wright has toyed with conventions of the horror genre before in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but he hasn’t attempted something this dark and thrilling before.