10 Things I Cannot Wait to See in 2021

Now that we have settled into 2021 (at least a little bit), it seems about time to take stock of what the industry has in store for us during the upcoming calendar year. Coming off of a stretch where releases were delayed right and left, there is a combination of backlogged and brand-new content coming our way that promises to make 2021 a fascinating film and television year indeed. While there is so much to consider, I have narrowed my excitement down to the 10 films and television shows I am most hotly anticipating. Read through, and let me know if you feel the same way, or, rather, consider yourself personally insulted by my leaving something off the list. 

10. Last Night in Soho (2021)

I tend to clam up when asked what my favorite movies are because it tends to fluctuate depending on the day, hour, or what I’ve seen recently. No matter, one movie that always floats around the top of the list is Hot Fuzz (2007). That movie launched writer and director Edgar Wright into the pantheon of creators whose work I anxiously await, hence Last Night in Soho’s inclusion on this list. Billed as a “psychological horror” movie set in 1960s London that stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Terrence Stamp, and the late Diana Rigg, it seems like a film perfectly developed to raise the pulses of cinephiles everywhere while we await its release into the world. If you’re wondering why it’s only #10 on this list, that is simply because Wright’s last movie, Baby Driver (2017), disappointed me so much that I cannot help but bear a touch of ‘fool me once’ energy coming into this release. I know many people enjoyed Baby Driver, but as I wrote on this site upon its release, it struck me as “an enormous waste of potential.” Here’s hoping Last Night in Soho is a return to form for a director who, at his best, numbers amongst my favorite living auteurs. 

9. No Time to Die (2021)

Ever since Daniel Craig took over the 007 moniker, his tenure as James Bond has followed a sort of quality pattern. First was Casino Royale (2006), a stylish and wonderfully executed modernization of the Bond mythos. Next was Quantum of Solace (2008), of which the less we say the better. When Skyfall (2012) came about, it happened to be not only one of the best Bond movies ever made, but one of the great action films of all time. Yet, Spectre (2015) let us down dramatically just three short years later. So, if the pattern holds and we are once again due for a good Bond film, No Time To Die (2021) could become a fitting coda to Craig’s time in the suit. With a script punched up by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and supporting turns from Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch, my hopes are high. Fingers crossed No Time to Die is at least Casino Royale’s equal so we can rally around some incredible action filmmaking once April rolls around and have a proper blockbuster experience for the first time in quite a while. 

8. In the Heights (2021)

Earlier in 2020, I wrote about my happiness at FINALLY getting the chance to watch Hamilton: An American Musical and that joy extends to the opportunity to bask in the glow of another Lin-Manuel Miranda musical extravaganza; In the Heights. As someone who does not live in the tri-state area and therefore has had limited experience with on-Broadway musical theater, movie adaptations and stage recordings are the most consistent way I am able to engage with a performance form I love. My exposure to In the Heights thus far has remained limited to repeatedly listening through the original cast recording and parsing through YouTube for any clips that may have filtered out into the world through less *cough* reputable means. The film adaptation promises a chance to experience the full richness of the story and music in a way that has not previously been accessible to those of us who were not lucky enough to catch it during the Broadway run. Plus, with a cast that features the likes of Anthony Ramos, Stephanie Beatriz, Jimmy Smits, and Miranda himself, all under the direction of John M. Chu, there is quite a bit pulling for this to be the musical theatre event of the year. 

7. Halloween Kills (2021)

My love for John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is well-documented on this site, and that love extends to David Gordon Green’s requel Halloween (2018). After decades of sequels ranging from underwhelming to downright atrocious, it was starting to look like nothing in the franchise would ever again reach even near the original peak, so DGG’s success was, to say the least, invigorating. By de-canonizing everything since the original film, Halloween ‘18 was able to imagine Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as a gun-toting, traumatized, and action-ready grandma ready to take on her attempted killer Michael Meyers (Nick Castle) after so many years. DGG announced plans for a trilogy to finish out the Halloween franchise with Carpenter’s support, and Halloween Kills will mark the second entry. Even though it seemed like Meyers was done for sure at the end of Halloween ‘18, the advance material makes it clear he has once again miraculously survived and is ready to do battle with the citizens of Haddonfield, Illinois. Sign me up for opening night (vaccine schedule willing!). 

6. The Expansion of the Filoni-verse

I am not going to bore you here by repeating myself, so if you want to experience my full ranting and raving about Dave Filoni and his upcoming projects, you can read my earlier article here. What I will say is that the slate of upcoming Star Wars television shows which Filoni is involved in is the most exciting group of Star Wars stories that we have had during my lifetime. Ahsoka alone is enough to lock me into my Disney + subscription for as long as Filoni is still a driving force in the Star Wars saga.

5. Succession (2018-) Season Three

I admit this is more of a pipe dream for 2021 than a probability, but what is a new year list without a little hope? There have been multiple reported starts and stops on production for season three since the fall. HBO has reportedly been working hard to find COVID-19 safe ways to continue production on what will most likely be its most consistent ratings and awards juggernaut in the coming years, but the cast and crew are at the whims of our pandemic reality. Regardless, I just want to inject season three directly into my veins as soon as HBO can deliver it. The Roy family exploits make for some of the most compelling drama and pitch-black humor on television. Coming off of an explosive closing stretch in season two, the possibilities of what the face-off between Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Logan (Brian Cox) will mean both for the future of Waystar Royco and the Roy family are tantalizing. Honestly, though, I just want to spend more time listening to sublime insults that Roman (Kieran Culkin) spins whenever he enters a room. 

4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-) Season 8

I arrived well behind schedule to the Brooklyn Nine-Nine hype train, but now that I’m here, I’m fully committed to evangelizing for one of the best sitcoms on television. Over seven seasons, the Andy Samberg-led show has matured into a program that balances some of the goofiest and most absurd humor on network television with an increased focus on using its platform as a police comedy to address pertinent real-life issues. Terry Crews, who co-stars as Lt. Terry Jeffords, previously told TV Insider that the cast and crew have “had a lot of somber talks” about how to address policing and racism in America. He went on to note that “[they] have an opportunity and [they] plan to use it in the best way possible.” Pair this with the consistently top-notch work from the expansive ensemble cast who have displayed the deft ability to modulate between drama and comedy, and my excitement for a new batch of episodes only grows. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become the show I turn to most regularly when I need a heartfelt laugh, and with the way 2021 is starting, I anxiously await the chance to dive into more material from the show. 

3. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya are two of the most talented actors working today. If you have doubts, see the range Kaluuya brings to his roles in Get Out (2017) and Widows (2018), and check out Stanfield’s layered and somewhat unhinged work in Sorry to Bother You (2018). Stanfield had a small role in Get Out, so the two have technically worked together before, but Judas and the Black Messiah signals a chance for us all to revel in the chance to see two titanic talents square off on-screen. Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), who was the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the mid 20th Century, and William O’Neal (Stanfield), an FBI Informant sent to infiltrate the party and bring Hampton down. These events led to Hampton’s murder at the hands of the FBI, an occurrence gestured at in last year’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) that remains a stain on the integrity and morality of the FBI to this day. The biblical title of the film alone suggests that this will be a story focusing on the complexities of O’Neal’s betrayal and the colossal impact his actions had. It’s a story that many Americans are unfamiliar with, and with two masters toplining it, I have it flagged now as a possible new American classic. 

2. Any Information about Wisteria (????)

I love everything that our cinematic lord and savior David Lynch lays his hands on. I especially love it when he happens to bless us with original television projects, even more so when they are of the Twin Peaks (1990-1992, 2017) variety. Therefore, when news broke in late 2020 that Lynch was developing a television series for Netflix under the working title Wisteria (????), I was elated. Lynch is famously secretive about his projects, so we quite literally know nothing about Wisteria except that it is in development, and that it will premiere on Netflix whenever it’s finished. Cue anxious speculation. Some have theorized that Wisteria will be a spin-off or continuation of the Twin Peaks mythos and story, which was left with a number of open questions at the end of 2017’s limited series on Showtime. I personally think the ending of that reboot was pristine, but I would never say no to more Twin Peaks. Even if it is an entirely new project, the concept of Lynch returning to television is thrilling, especially on a platform with a developing reputation of letting auteurs take their money and run in any direction they see fit. I am under no delusion that we will see a completed Wisteria in 2021, but I will be waiting impatiently for any crumb of development news that may seep out into the world. 

1. Dune (2021)

I have said it before, and I will say it again now: Denis Villeneuve is one of the greatest working directors out there, and in my eyes holds the uncontested crown for the king of modern science-fiction filmmaking. His film Arrival (2016) sits alongside the aforementioned Hot Fuzz as a staunch personal favorite, and every movie he has released, both in his native French and more recently in English, has displayed the craft of a true master. Therefore, it makes sense that he would be the director tasked with a second attempt at bringing Frank Hebert’s beloved novels to the big screen. David Lynch famously struggled to do so with his Dune (1984), a movie so widely panned that it relegated Hebert’s story to the ‘possibly unfilmable’ list for decades (for all of my Lynch love, I have nothing good to say about the movie except that it brought future Special Agent Dale Cooper actor Kyle MacLachlan and Lynch together). Villeneuve’s bona fides for science-fiction storytelling that is both vast as well as in tune with the smallest details of characterization are all over his filmography, which gives me immense hope that he will achieve what Lynch could not. Throw in a stupidly talented cast that includes Zendaya, Oscar Issac, Timothée Chalamet, and Rebecca Ferguson, and we may just be awaiting the arrival of an all-time science-fiction classic. 

Honorable Mentions:

A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

Black Widow (2021)

Candyman (2021)

Death on the Nile (2021)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021-)

The Father (2021)

The Northman (2021)

Pieces of a Woman (2021)Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

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