Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

It kind of goes without saying that 2020 wasn’t great. Okay, it was terrible. Of the many things that took a hit, movies certainly took it in the teeth, especially the theatrical experience. Yet, regardless of what happens to theaters, movies are still coming, just with different delivery systems. At this point a heaping amount of movies that were originally scheduled for 2020, and were then delayed, are now coming for 2021. It’s gotten to the point that — especially if theaters get back going — it could be a bloodbath of competition. But everything in flux, who really knows what’ll happen? But, in the spirit of optimistically looking forward to the new year, here’s my most anticipated movies of 2021.

45. The Lost Daughter

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Coleman, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Jessie Buckley, Alba Rohrwacher, Paul Mescal & Ed Harris

Synopsis: A woman (Olivia Coleman), while on a summer vacation, finds herself becoming obsessed with another woman (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter, prompting memories of her own early motherhood to come back and unravel her.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of the more fearless actors working today, so the idea of her behind the camera is rather intriguing. Adapting Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same title for her debut feature (and teaming with cinematographer Hélène Louvart), Gyllenhaal has said that the dark secrets of motherhood was the subject that struck a chord with her for this project. So it sounds like the same embracing of fear is coming right along with her this time around.

Release Date: Fall 2021

44. Born to be Murdered

Director: Ferdinando Cito Filomarino

Cast: John David Washington, Alicia Vikander, Boyd Holbrook & Vickey Krieps

Synopsis: A young vacationing couple (John David Washington and Alicia Vikander) fall into a trap of a violent conspiracy.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s the English-language debut for longtime Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) protégé, Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, who’s bringing along much of the former’s team with him in this Greece-set manhunt thriller (with Guadagnino producing). With a solid ensemble, boasting composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Revenant) and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me By Your Name & Suspiria), Filomarino has a lot of potential to thrive here.

Release Date: It’ll hit Netflix sometime in 2021.

43. The Last Duel

Director: Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven & The Martian)

Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer & Ben Affleck

Synopsis: In 14th-century France, best friends Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) are ordered to fight to the death after Carrouges accuses Le Gris of raping his wife (Jodie Comer).

Why You Should Look Out For It: The film sees a script from Affleck, Damon and Nicole Holofcener teamed with a maestro of grandeur and scale in Ridley Scott. Tackling a tough subject matter, Damon has said that the film heavily focuses on perspective with each screenwriter writing the perspective for each of the three lead characters, as the film looks to explore the oppressive culture of the era. It has the chance to be a triumph or a complete trainwreck, but it has my interest either way.

Release Date: October 15, 2021

42. Rebel Ridge

Director: Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin & Green Room)

Cast: John Boyega, Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, Erin Doherty & James Cromwell

Synopsis: An ex-marine (John Boyega) takes on a group of dirty cops in a high-velocity thriller.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Whenever you’re in the mood to see faces get smashed and human bodies crushed into dust through unrelenting, stylishly-rendered violence, Jeremy Saulnier is your guy. And it sounds like his latest will see Saulnier returning to the punk-rock ferocity of his early films, while packing an extra sting.

Release Date: It’ll hit Netflix sometime in 2021.

41. Passing

Director: Rebecca Hall

Cast: Ruth Negga, Tessa Thompson, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp & André Holland

Synopsis: Centers on the unexpected reunion of two high school friends (Ruth Negga & Tessa Thompson), whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.

Why You Should Look Out For It: As the directorial debut of Rebecca Hall, she’s tackling a literary classic in Nella Larsen’s novel of the same title, and it has the potential of incredible potency. Working with an overlooked cinematographer in Eduard Grau (A Single Man & The Gift) and a sharp ensemble, Hall isn’t holding back with her first directorial outing and it’s because of that which makes this project so interesting.

Release Date: The film premiers at Sundance in January.

40. Titane

Director: Julia Ducournau (Raw)

Cast: Vincent Lindon, Theo Hellerman, Agathe Rousselle & Mehdi Rahim-Silvioli

Synopsis: A young man with a bruised face is discovered in an airport. He says his name is Adrien Legrand, a child who disappeared ten years ago. And as he’s finally reunited with his father, gruesome murders begin piling up in the region.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Ducournau’s follow-up to her ferocious debut, Raw, and it looks like she’s returning with something quite sinister. And the prospect of her working with French cinema legend Vincent Lindon sounds like it as well could be a tasty treat.

Release Date: With Neon distributing it, expect a major festival debut. I could see it at Cannes in May.

39. Red Rocket

Director: Sean Baker (Tangerine & The Florida Project)

Cast: Simon Rex

Synopsis: All that’s known is that it’s a dark comedy.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s a new film from neo-realist visionary Sean Baker, who’s yet again turning his lens onto marginalized Americana (again having an ensemble that features first-time performers). He’s teaming with cinematographer Drew Daniels (It Comes at Night & Waves), and if either of their past works are any signifiers, there could be plenty of pleasure to come.

Release Date: TBD, but because of Baker’s indie cache, I could see the film get picked up A24 or Neon.

38. Red, White and Water

Director: Lila Neugebauer

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Samira Wiley, Brian Tyree Henry & Stephen McKinley Henderson

Synopsis: A U.S. soldier (Jennifer Lawrence) suffers a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life back home.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s the directorial debut of theater director Lila Neugebauer, who’s earned the clout for her cinematic introduction to be apart of the illustrious A24 and Plan B roster, bringing the acting talents of Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry, and remarkable cinematographer Diego García (Cemetery of Splendor & Wildlife) along with her.

Release Date: I could possibly see this as a Fall awards contender.

37. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Director: Michael Showalter (The Big Sick & Hello, My Name is Doris)

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cherry Jones, & Sam Jaeger

Synopsis: Based on the 2000 documentary of the same title, the deeply controversial televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (Andrew Garfield & Jessica Chastain) seek redemption after their religious empire and marriage crumbles.

Why You Should Look Out For It: For me personally, I find this story pretty fascinating and seeing Michael Showalter is diving into this is a pretty interesting choice for a project like this. With the Tammy Faye role, Jessica Chastain seems to have her best part since maybe A Most Violent Year, and her empathy as an actress will be interesting to see in the role. Garfield’s bombast will firmly be a good fit for Jim Bakker, and to see Showalter team-up with stellar cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (It FollowsUnder the Silver LakeUs) will be a fascinating pairing.

Release Date: Almost undoubtedly will debut at the fall festival circuit for an awards push.

36. Eternals

Director: Chloé Zhao (The Rider & Nomadland)

Cast: Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Lia McHugh & Ma Dong-seok

Synopsis: The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Another year, another Marvel movie. Yet this one looks like it could be different, as Chloé Zhao is the most profound filmmaker that’s really ever teamed with Marvel; hopefully bringing her poetic sensibility to the overwrought, house aesthetic of the studio.

Release Date: November 6, 2021

35. Don’t Worry Darling

Director: Olivia Wilde (Booksmart)

Cast: Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, Harry Styles, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll & Timothy Simons

Synopsis: An unhappy housewife (Florence Pugh) in the 1950s discovers a disturbing truth, while her loving husband (Harry Styles) hides a dark secret.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Actor-turned-director Olivia Wilde burst onto the scene in 2019 with Booksmart, a funny and irreverent coming-of-age teen comedy. For her follow-up though, it seems that Wilde is ready to show her range; Don’t Worry Darling is a psychological thriller. And from what I’ve heard about the script, things could get pretty interesting.

Release Date: It’s currently filming, so I would see a late Fall release.

34. The Souvenir: Part II

Director: Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir & Archipelago)

Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Joe Alwyn, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton, & Richard Ayoade

Synopsis: Following 2019’s The Souvenir, the sequel picks up in the immediate aftermath that Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) was left in.

Why You Should Look Out For It: If you haven’t seen The Souvenir you really should, as it was one of the more fascinating films of 2019. But I’m not going to lie the film’s original casting of Robert Pattinson to co-star, as Julie’s new love interest, had me over the moon about this project, but sadly he had to drop out because of his scheduling for The Batman. And it hasn’t been clear which of the new castings (Alwyn, Dickinson, or Heaton) replaced Pattinson, but while none of them are Pattinson they all are solid and can bring some good to this project. But, most of all, it’s going to interesting to see what Honor Swinton Byrne brings to Julie in this new installment.

Release Date: TBD, via A24.

33. Benedetta

Director: Paul Verhoeven (Elle & Robocop)

Cast: Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Lambert Wilson, Daphne Patakia & Clotilde Courau

Synopsis: A 17th-century nun (Virginie Efira) in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. As she’s assisted by a companion, a relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Verhoeven is following arguably his most acclaimed work of his career, in the daring Elle. Verhoeven is a master at mining unexpected depth out of taboo subject matter, and if what we know about Benedetta so far is any indication, he seems to be back on form with a tale of forbidden passion. The film was supposed to premier at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, but health problems and the director’s relishing for rigorous perfectionism, saw the film getting postponed until 2020, then the ole’ pandemic happened. So it’ll have to be seen if it was worth the wait.

Release Date: Expect a Cannes premier in May.

32. West Side Story

Director: Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park & Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno, David Alvarez, Mike Faist and Corey Stoll

Synopsis: An adaptation of the 1957 musical that centers on the forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two rival teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.

Why You Should Out For It: It’s Spielberg and remarkable playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner (Munich & Lincoln) tackling their first musical through West Side Story, I’m not sure what else you need.

Release Date: December 10, 2021

31. Amsterdam (Rumored Title)

Director: David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Silver Linings Playbook & American Hustle)

Cast: Margot Robbie, Christian Bale & John David Washington

Synopsis: The full plot is being kept under wraps, but it’s said the movie revolves around a doctor and lawyer who form an unlikely partnership.

Why You Should Look Out For It: A few years back, Russell was all set to make a big Amazon series with Robert De Niro among others attached, but it died right with Harvey Weinstein’s career (who was attached to produce). But in the years since, Russell has cranked out a new script and is working with some new faces: His regular muse Jennifer Lawrence is out, and Margot Robbie is in, and Christian Bale is back. But maybe even more interesting are the other new team members: Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker) and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, The Tree of Life & The Revenant).

Release Date: The film starts shooting early 2021, so I’d expect a Fall release.

30. No Sudden Move

Director: Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight & Ocean’s Eleven)

Cast: Benicio del Toro, Jon Hamm, Don Cheadle, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Brendan Fraser, David Harbour, Ray Liotta, Julia Fox, Amy Seimetz, Frankie Shaw & Matt Damon

Synopsis: A group of criminals brought together under mysterious circumstances has to work together to uncover what’s really going on when their simple job goes entirely sideways.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Soderbergh is committed to experimentation, yet No Sudden Move sounds like a return to grubby crime-comedy territory, à la the Ocean’s trilogy or Logan Lucky. And with his astounding ensemble, this might as well be a Soderbergh equivalent of a Globetrotter’s game.

Release Date: I feel a summer release, onto HBO Max, is likely.

29. No Time to Die

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin NombreTrue Detective, & Beasts of No Nation)

Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch, Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Jeffery Wright, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, & Christoph Waltz

Synopsis: James Bond (Daniel Craig) has left active service. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright) from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) armed with dangerous new technology.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Though there was a heaping amount of behind-the-scenes and production problems, from the early departure of director Danny Boyle, to Daniel Craig’s injury that caused a pause in filming, to the slew of release delays, No Time to Die has plenty reasons to look forward to it. For one, this is Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, leaving the future of the franchise open-ended. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a credited screenwriter and her work on Fleabag has been quite impressive. And Cary Fukunaga is a terrific director and as well has brought on cinematographer Linus Sandgren who’s been on a roll recently with his work on La La Land and First Man. It’s hard to ignore all the bumps in the road that this production has had, but the trailers have offered some heavy intrigue.

Release Date: April 2, 2021

28. Petite Maman

Director: Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)

Cast: Unknown.

Synopsis: The full plot is being kept under wraps, but it’s said to revolve around childhood and a family in Paris.

Why You Should Look Out For It: All I’ll say is go watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire!

Release Date: It’s currently shooting, so a Fall release seems practical.

27. Les Olympiades

Director: Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust & Bone & The Sisters Brothers)

Cast: Noémie Merlant, Genevieve Doang, Lily Ruben & Line Phe

Synopsis: The plot is under wraps, but the story is expected to deal with adolescence and revolve around female protagonists.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Audiard is constantly reinventing himself, jumping from crime stories to Westerns to romantic melodramas. And Les Olympiades sees him teaming with Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) on the script, which gives it just another level of excitment.

Release Date: A Cannes debut seems possible.

26. Three Thousand Years of Longing

Director: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Cast: Tilda Swinton & Idris Elba

Synopsis: A lonely and bitter British woman (Tilda Swinton) discovers an ancient bottle while on a trip to Istanbul and unleashes a genie-like figure (Idria Elba) who offers her three wishes. Filled with apathy, she is unable to come up with one until his stories spark in her a desire to be loved.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s a long gestating project for Miller, who’s patience has payed off, as this project is now deep into production. With a budget of $60 million, the film’s scale is supposedly insanely large and described as the “anti-Mad Max.”

Release Date: This could possibly be an awards contender for MGM, so a Fall release seems likely.

25. Gucci

Director: Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise)

Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jared Leto & Jack Huston

Synopsis: The story of how Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), plotted to kill her husband, the grandson of renowned fashion designer Guccio Gucci.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Ridley Scott diving into a lush crime-thriller that’ll be his second project of 2021 and it’s Lady Gaga testing herself further than she ever has.

Release Date: November 24, 2021

24. Last Night in Soho

Director: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz & Baby Driver)

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie, Diana Rigg & Terrence Stamp

Synopsis: A young girl (Thomasin McKenzie), who is passionate about fashion design, mysteriously enters the 1960s, where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer (Anya Taylor-Joy). But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Edgar Wright is supposedly following up his kinetic Baby Driver with a film that takes influence from Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, so the aesthetic and genre jump is pretty big. The plot particulars are pretty slim, but the prospect of an deeply talented filmmaker like Edgar Wright working in a more potentially wicked register just makes me giddy.

Release Date: April 23, 2021

23. Triangle of Sadness

Director: Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure & The Square)

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Hanna Oldenburg, Henrik Dorsin & Vicki Berlin

Synopsis: A pair of models find themselves at a crossroads in their careers as they’re stranded on a desert island with a collection of wealthy eccentrics and a resourceful maid.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Ruben Östlund is arguably the king of jet-black squirm-inducing, cringe comedy in today’s cinema, all of which was on display in his tackling of ineffectual masculinity (Force Majeure) and art-world snobbery (The Square). With Triangle of Sadness, he appears to be dissecting the fashion industry’s superficiality in a potentially loopy and scathing fashion.

Release Date: A Cannes premier seems like a slim possibility.

22. The Green Knight

Director: David Lowery (A Ghost Story & The Old Man & the Gun)

Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Barry Keoghan, Sean Harris, Joel Edgerton, Ralph Ineson & Erin Kellyman

Synopsis: A fantasy adventure based on the Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s (Sean Harris) headstrong nephew, who embarks on a quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic green-skinned stranger (Ralph Ineson).

Why You Should Look Out For It: David Lowery is a filmmaker who seems quite committed to never making the same movie twice. And Green Knight is another stylistic switch-up, seeing the auteur venturing into the realm of medieval fantasy. It wouldn’t be surprising if Lowery somehow takes the story and turns it down some unconventional lanes, but his reteaming with cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo and with A24 all accumulate into a very promising project.

Release Date: July 30, 2021

21. The Power of the Dog

Director: Jane Campion (The Piano & Bright Star)

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy & Adam Beach

Synopsis: A pair of brothers (Benedict Cumberbatch & Jesse Plemons) who own a large ranch in Montana are pitted against each other when one of them gets married.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Jane Campion’s return to cinema in over a decade and she’s brought along an enticing ensemble that’s cause for celebration.

Release Date: A Fall or Winter release seems likely.

20. Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay (The Big Short & Vice)

Cast: (*inhale*) Leonardo Dicaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Timothee Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Chris Evans, Jonah Hill, Melanie Lynskey, Rob Morgan, Ron Pearlman, Ariana Grande, Matthew Perry, Himesh Patel, Tyler Perry & Kid Cudi (*exhale*)

Synopsis: A pair of astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio & Jennifer Lawrence) try to warn everyone on Earth that a giant meteorite will destroy the planet in six months.

Why You Should Look Out For It: The cast alone on McKay’s upcoming environmental satire is exhaustingly stacked. And it sounds like this will be the meld of his absurdist comic sensibilities with his recently, more politically charged work, which could be a biting joy.

Release Date: It’ll hit Netflix sometime in the year.

19. Memoria

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives & Cemetery of Splendor)

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Jeanne Balibar, & Daniel Giménez Cacho

Synopsis: Not much is known by it’s said that the protagonist is a woman from Scotland (Tilda Swinton), who, while traveling in Colombia, begins to notice a series of strange sounds.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Apichatpong Weerasethakul doesn’t make movies so much that he makes ineffable, practically transcendent experiences that are pretty impossible to categorize. And while plot particulars are slim, just saying “Weerasethakul & Tilda Swinton” sells me on this project alone. Then just adding on that cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me by Your Name & Uncle Boonmee) is shooting this and that Neon is distributing it, only hypes me up more.

Release Date: A Cannes debut is possible.

18. Annette

Director: Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge & Holy Motors)

Cast: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, & Simon Helberg

Synopsis: The peaceful life of a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and a world-famous opera singer (Marion Cotillard) gets turned upside down with the birth of their daughter, Annette — who harbors a curious talent.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Just the fact that Leos Carax is making a musical with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard is pretty much all you should need. (If you haven’t seen any of Carax’s movies, do yourself a favor and get on that and you’ll see why.)

Release Date: I could definitely see this premiering at Cannes.

17. C’mon C’mon

Director: Mike Mills (Beginners & 20th Century Women)

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Norman & Gaby Hoffman

Synopsis: A documentary filmmaker (Joaquin Phoenix), whose latest project involves gifted children, finds himself bonding with his smart-yet-sensitive nephew (Woody Norman), whose father struggles with bipolar disorder and is in the grips of a manic episode.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s Joaquin Phoenix’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning work in Joker and Mike Mills follow-up to the criminally underrated 20th Century Women. And judging by Mills’ past work, this could very well see Phoenix exploring more introspective shades in the vein of his work in Her.

Release Date: A Cannes debut seems possible, but TIFF in September seems more likely.

16. After Yang

Director: Kogonada (Columbus)

Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin Min, Haley Lu Richardson, & Clifton Collins Jr.

Synopsis: A father (Colin Farrell) and daughter (possibly Haley Lu Richardson) band together to come to the aid of an ailing family member, Yang (Justin Min), who just happens to be a robot.

Why You Should Look Out For It: After his deeply moving, calming, and utterly incredible debut, Columbus, Kogonada immediately became a filmmaker to watch. And with him now hopping onto the A24 train with this project, jumping into the sci-fi genre and bringing back Haley Lu Richardson and bringing on Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith, After Yang is one of 2021’s most promising projects.

Release Date: A premier at the fall festival circuit and late 2021 release seems likely, given A24’s release history.

15. Radioscopie

Director: Claire Denis (Beau Travail, White Material & High Life)

Cast: Juliette Binoche & Vincent London

Synopsis: A story set in the world of French radio.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Claire Denis is one of the finer filmmakers of the last three decades. She was all set to shoot The Stars At Noon with Robert Pattinson and Margaret Qualley, but because of the pandemic and The Batman, that production got delayed. So, in the similar vein of what happened with the last Denis-Pattinson joint, High Life (which got delayed and she then snuck in another small project to do while waiting, Let the Sunshine In), Denis is tackling a small-scale project in the mean time. Set in the world of French radio, it may not sound as exciting on the surface, but in Denis’ hands, so much is possible.

Release Date: A late, Winter 2021 release seems likely.

14. Babylon

Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land & First Man)

Cast: Margot Robbie & Brad Pitt

Synopsis: A sprawling period epic set against the glorious backdrop of Hollywood in its infancy.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Damien Chazelle is a director widely revered for his ambition, and seeing him diving into a sure-to-be-grandiose vision of Old Hollywood, especially with the rumored additional cast of Meryl Streep, Tobey Maguire and Michael B. Jordan.

Release Date: December 25, 2021

13. Untitled Johnathan Glazer Project

Director: Jonathan Glazer (Sexy BeastBirth, & Under the Skin)

Cast: Unknown

Synopsis: A WWII Auschwitz story that reportedly focuses on a Nazi officer who has become enamored with the camp commandant’s wife.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s a Jonathan Glazer film, pure and simple. With only three films over a nearly two-decade career, he undoubtedly takes his time but next year it seems we might finally get the fourth. Glazer is notoriously secretive and not much is known about this project, even the cast. It’s rumored that this new project is loosely inspired by author Martin Amis’ acclaimed novel The Zone of Interest, which is set in Auschwitz. The 2014 novel grapples with the discomfiting idea of love blooming in a barbaric place and explores the contradictions of the human soul. If this is indeed what he’s adapting, audiences will be in store for something unquestionably challenging and uncomfortable.

Release Date: Honestly, who knows if this will even come out, but I still dare to dream!

12. The Tragedy of Macbeth

Director: Joel Coen

Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Brendan Gleeson & Corey Hawkins

Synopsis: An adaptation of Shakespeare’s revered play as a “ticking-clock thriller.”

Why You Should Look Out For It: This is Joel Coen’s, of the Coen Brothers, first solo effort without his brother, Ethan. For many cinephiles it came as a crazy, head-scratching shock to hear that announcement, but it also made it even more intriguing. I can’t imagine what take Joel has on Macbeth, but all I hope is that its something we haven’t seen before. He’s brought on Denzel Washington to be appear in his first Coen-related project and his wife Frances McDormand (no stranger to the Coens universe) to handle the duties as Lady Macbeth, and with A24 distributing it, this one has Oscar potential all over it.

Release Date: I could see this premiering at TIFF in September.

11. The French Dispatch

Director: Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. FoxMoonrise Kingdom, & The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Kate Winslet, Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jeffery Wright & even more.

Synopsis: A love letter to journalists spanning multiple decades and set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories throughout decades published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Wes Anderson is one of the perennial filmmakers of today, someone who’s work cinephiles mark their calendars and look forward to. And now seeing him tackle an anthology that spans different formats in his sandbox of an imagination seems like a guaranteed pleasure.

Release Date: A Cannes premier seems in the cards.

10. The Card Counter

Director: Paul Schrader (Blue Collar, American Gigolo & First Reformed)

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan & Tiffany Haddish

Synopsis: William Tell (Oscar Isaac), a gambler and former serviceman, sets out to reform a young man (Tye Sheridan) through seeking revenge on a mutual enemy (Willem Dafoe) from their past. 

Why You Should Look Out For It: Paul Schrader made a comeback of sorts in 2018 with First Reformed, which was my number one film of that respective year. So to hear that Schrader, one of cinema’s great screenwriters, is partnering with Oscar Isaac for a characteristically bleak and daring morality play (that supposedly makes First Reformed look “Disney-esque”) is something to marvel at.

Release Date: A Cannes premier seems possible.

9. The Brutalist

Director: Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader & Vox Lox)

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Marion Cotillard, Mark Rylance, Sebastian Stan, Vanessa Kirby, Alessandro Nivola, Raffey Cassidy, Stacy Martin & Isaach De Bankolé

Synopsis: When visionary architect László Toth (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Erzsébet (Marion Cotillard) flee Europe to rebuild their legacy and witness the birth of modern America, their lives are changed forever by a mysterious and wealthy client (Mark Rylance). 

Why You Should Look Out For It: For me, Brady Corbet is one of the most invigorating on-the-rise filmmakers working today, delivering daring and uncompromising work steadily through his first two features. And now seeing him re-team with his wife, Mona Fastvold, on the script for a decade-spanning epic drama; it couldn’t be more up my alley.

Release Date: It starts shooting in January, so a later 2021 release seems possible.

8. Blonde

Director: Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Ford & Killing Them Softly)

Cast: Ana de Armas, Bobby Cannavale, Adrien Brody, Julianne Nicholson, Sara Paxton, Scoot McNairy & Garrett Dillahunt

Synopsis: A fictionalized chronicle of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas).

Why You Should Look Out For It: Andrew Dominik is simply one of the best directors working today, and he’s adapting Joyce Carroll Oates’ very unconventional historical novel, a project he’s been trying to get off the ground for years. (Dominik has described the narrative as a Polanski-esque “descent-into-madness.”) He’s found an inspired choice to play Monroe in Ana de Armas and he’s teamed with on-the-rise cinematographer Chayse Irvin (BlacKkKlansman).

Release Date: It’ll hit Netflix sometime in 2021.

7. Dune

Director: Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, ArrivalBlade Runner 2049)

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling & David Dastmalchian

Synopsis: An adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal science fiction novel, that tells the story of a son of a regal family (Timothée Chalamet) entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Denis Villeneuve has quickly ascended to not just the top of modern sci-fi filmmakers, but just filmmakers in general. His last work, Blade Runner 2049, was one of the most bravura studio films of the decade, and now he’s tackling Dune, which may even top that film in its grand and immersive sci-fi opera qualities. The sheer scope of Herbert’s dense and demanding novel will definitely be Villeneuve’s most difficult task. But he’s brought on a most astonishing ensemble, teamed up with cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher & Rouge One) for the first time, and by the looks of that trailer, this could be something.

Release Date: October 1, 2021

6. The Northman

Director: Robert Eggers (The Witch & The Lighthouse)

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, Bjork & Ralph Ineson

Synopsis: A 10th century Nordic prince (Alexander Skarsgård) sets out on a quest for revenge after his father is slain.

Why You Should Look Out For It: After the knockout one-two punch of The Witch and The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers could do anything and I’d be interested. Taking his fetishistic attention to detail for a Viking epic of likely grueling and sumptuous proportions? Yeah, give it to me!

Release Date: I could see this premiering at TIFF in September.

5. Nightmare Alley

Director: Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s BackbonePan’s Labyrinth, & The Shape of Water)

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, David Strathairn, Richard Jenkins, Holt McCallany & Ron Pearlman

Synopsis: An adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel, which sees in a carnival-set environment a corrupt con-man (Bradley Cooper) team up with the carnival’s mentalist (Toni Collette) to trick people into giving them money.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s del Toro’s follow-up to his Best Picture-winner The Shape of Water, and after the runaway success of that film, the filmmaker could have done anything and it appears he’s been given the proverbial blank check and he’s decided to take a stab at a classic, hard-boiled noir, a genre that will no doubt display the filmmakers talents at mood and the macabre. He’s brought on his most starry ensemble for a film that is said will be less supernaturally-inclined than his past work, and he’s described the project as being very R-rated and also an “underbelly of society” type of movie. Whatever it is he’s cooking up, a del Toro movie is always a feast of something special.

Release Date: I could see del Toro returning to Venice with this in September.

4. The Way of the Wind

Director: Terrence Malick (The Thin Red LineThe Tree of LifeA Hidden Life)

Cast: Géza Röhrig, Mark Rylance, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tawfeek Barhom, Ben Kingsley, Joseph Fiennes, Numan Acar & Aidan Turner

Synopsis: The story of Jesus Christ (Géza Röhrig) told through episodic parables.

Why You Should Look Out For It: Given how his films have dove deeper and deeper into spirituality, it’s not that shocking to see Terrence Malick finally go fully biblical. He’s following up the masterful A Hidden Life, and has brought on a very intriguing ensemble to bring these parables to life. In the center as Christ is the great Géza Röhrig, who faintly acts but was incredible in 2015’s Son of Saul. By his side as the Apostle Peter is Mathias Schoenaerts, and maybe the most interesting member of the cast is Oscar-winner Mark Rylance as Satan (who’s suggested that he’s playing multiple versions of the adversary). The looming question though is whether or not Malick is working from a set script as he did on A Hidden Life, or is returning to his more exploratory side? In either case, Malick grappling with the life of Christ has the potential (maybe guarantee?) to be an enthralling experience.

Release Date: Filming wrapped in 2019, but knowing Malick’s long editing process, a release is uncertain. (A rumor had been bubbling, though, for a possible Cannes premier in May.)

3. Armageddon Time

Director: James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z & Ad Astra)

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Robert De Niro & Donald Sutherland

Synopsis: A coming-of-age story about growing up in Queens in the 1980s.

Why You Should Look Out For It: James Gray, one of the more gifted filmmakers (and one of my personal favorites), has spread his wings in the last few years, tackling everything from an epic period adventure (The Lost City of Z) to adult sci-fi (Ad Astra), so it’s enticing to see him go back to his New York roots for a very promising-sounding drama that’s said to take influence from Amarcord and The 400 Blows.

Release Date: A Fall awards-contending release seems likely.

2. Soggy Bottom

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie NightsThere Will Be BloodThe Master)

Cast: Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie, Alana Haim & Joseph Cross

Synopsis: Set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, the film is set to be an ensemble piece of intertwined storylines, which feature a successful child actor (Cooper Hoffman), a grizzled movie producer (Bradley Cooper) and a closeted politician (Benny Safdie).

Why You Should Look Out For It: Any new film from Paul Thomas Anderson, possibly the greatest American director working today, is cause for celebration and calendar marking. This new project sees Anderson going back to his roots, returning to the ’70s milieu of Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice. The movie will also be Anderson’s first look at high school life (featuring the debut performance from the son of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cooper) and the film industry in a way.

Release Date: A late Fall, early Winter release seems likely.

1. Killers of the Flower Moon

Director: Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas & The Irishman)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio & Robert De Niro

Synopsis: Members of the Osage tribe in the United States are murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, sparking a major F.B.I. investigation.

Why You Should Look Out For It: It’s the first time collaboration between Scorsese, DiCaprio and De Niro all together. And it’s for a $200 million Western, of sorts! It’s sure to focus on the cruelty and racist injustices suffered by the Native American characters, but it’s also been revealed that DiCaprio (who was originally set to play a member of the law) fought for a script rewrite from Eric Roth to play a more villainous character in the film (so he’s now set to portray the tortured nephew of Robert De Niro’s serial killer). It all sounds capital-B bleak, to the point where that rewrite caused a studio change (with Apple TV+ now helping foot the bill), but it also sounds like an important story to be told.

Release Date: It hasn’t started shooting yet, but I’d expect a late in the year awards-contending release.

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