Over the past 12 months, cinephiles have had to completely transform how they consume their media of choice. As Covid-19 shuttered theaters all over the world, movie lovers could no longer float between multiplexes and streaming services to watch films however they liked. A raft of improvisations—the return of drive-ins, major tentpoles being sent straight to HBO Max—made it possible for fans to see a lot of good movies in 2020, but the lockdowns also meant quite a few huge movies got pushed out to 2021. If the past year left behind any true lesson, it’s that nothing is certain—but even so, there are a lot of movies to look forward to in the coming year. We don’t know if it’ll be in a theater or in our living rooms (or on a sheet in a friend’s backyard), but these are the films we’re most excited to see in 2021. All dates subject to change, because obviously.
Long before coronavirus shut down movie theaters, Dune was one of the most highly anticipated films of 2020. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) and featuring an all-star cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Oscar Isaac, the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel would be a juggernaut in any year. That’s probably why scores of fans, including Villenueve himself, were surprised to learn that the film would be one of the major releases that Warner Bros. plans to release on HBO Max the same day it hits theaters. It was made for the big screen—and that’s where we hope to see it—but we’ll take it any way we can get it.
Release date: October 1
The Matrix 4
It’s been 18 years since the third Matrix movie—The Matrix Revolutions—hit theaters. In that time, appreciation for the two sequels to the 1999 classic has grown (kinda), but the appreciation for star Keanu Reeves has exploded. Big think-y sci-fi movies have also come to dominate the cinematic landscape in a way they didn’t in the late 1990s. There’s a lot riding on this fourth Matrix installment to be epic—or at least a fun return to the black-clad world fans loved so much two decades ago. Lana Wachowski, we’re waiting.
Release date: December 22
A Black Widow stand-alone movie would have been a treat on its own. But for this one, Marvel added Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour as the estranged family of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Sure, it kinda sounds like Red Sparrow with slightly better Russian accents, but who cares? It also sounds like one helluva time.