Few things are as changeable as film release schedules in a coronavirus pandemic. Major movies like Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Daniel Craig’s final James Bond flick, No Time to Die, have delayed their openings into 2021. Others – The Glorias, Mulan, Antebellum – have given up on theatrical showings entirely in favor of home video streaming.
The good news for these latter films is that the Motion Picture Academy has bent its rules out of shape to make them eligible for the next Oscars – also postponed to April 25 – without screening in theaters. They really had to do so, given that the two largest markets in the country – New York and Los Angeles – have yet to open their movie houses.
So, with the understanding that the following slate of upcoming films is not only subject to change, but such change is probable, here is what the rest of this year and much of 2021 could look like at the movies and on your home screen.
Let Him Go — A retired sheriff and his wife (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), grieving over the death of their son, set out to find their only grandson.
Last Looks – A disgraced ex-cop goes off the grid in the remote woods, but his quiet life is soon ended when a private eye (Mel Gibson) recruits him to investigate a murder.
Freaky – With a nod to Freaky Friday, this body swapping drama involves a young girl in high school (Kathryn Newton), a deranged serial killer (Vince Vaughn) and a race against time before the changes become permanent.
Ammonite – In 1840s England, fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea (Saoirse Ronan) develop an intense attraction to each other. Sounds steamy.
The Croods: A New Age – The popular animated prehistoric family, the Croods, are challenged by a rival clan, the Bettermans, who claim to be more evolved. Featuring such voice talent as Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage.
Nomadland – Following big wins at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, this tale of a woman (Frances McDormand) who embarks on a journey through the American West, after losing everything in the Great Recession, has considerable Oscar buzz.
Death on the Nile – Following his success with Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh directs this other Agatha Christie mystery remake, as well as playing her renowned Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot. His star-studded ensemble cast includes Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer and Annette Bening.
The Father — Anthony Hopkins plays an aging senior drifting into dementia in this screen adaptation of Florian Zeller’s stage play of the same name. Directed by Zeller, making his feature debut.
Wonder Woman 1984 – Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot return for another big-screen adventure of the Amazonian superheroine, updated to the ‘80s, with Kristin Wiig as her nemesis.
News of the World – A scruffy Tom Hanks plays a widowed Civil War veteran who agrees to deliver a young girl, taken by a Native American tribe years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will.
One Night in Miami – Oscar winner Regina King makes her feature directing debut with this fictional meeting of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Hamilton Tony Winner Leslie Odom. Jr. is said to be a standout as Cooke, and a likely double Oscar nominee for his performance and for a song he composed.
Monster Hunter – Yes, this one is based on a video game, but this battle royal between a futuristic army lieutenant (Milla Jovovich) and oversized enemies with superpowers sounds like it is a cut above the usual fantasy shoot-’em-up.
January 15, 2021
The 355 – Jessica Chastain stars as a CIA agent action heroine, on the run in search of a top-secret weapon that has fallen into mercenary – as in bad guys’ – hands.
Respect – Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson stars as legendary rhythm-and-blues singer Aretha Franklin in this biopic that also features Forest Whitaker and Audra McDonald as members of Franklin’s family.
The Little Things – Denzel Washington and Rami Malek play a couple of cops on the trail of a serial killer (Jared Leto). Yes, it sounds a little formulaic, but the three principals are all Academy Award winners, so maybe they can elevate the film beyond the usual.
Blithe Spirit – A writer’s dead wife is conjured back from the dead by a dotty medium (Dame Judi Dench) in a remake based on the popular Noel Coward play. With Dan Stevens, Leslie Mann and Isla Fisher as the squabbling Condomines.
The Many Saints of Newark – A look back at the formative years of New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano, with Michael Gandolfini – yep, James’s son – in the role. With Corey Stoll, Vera Farmiga and Ray Liotta in flavorful support.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent — Nicolas Cage plays himself, a cash-strapped B-list movie star who agrees to make a paid appearance at a billionaire super fan’s birthday party, but Cage is really an informant for the CIA and the fan is a drug kingpin.
No Time to Die – The much-delayed James Bond saga – the last to star Daniel Craig as 007 – sees him reeled back from retirement by his long-time CIA buddy Felix Leiter to catch a mysterious villain (Rami Malik) armed with lethal new technology.
A Quiet Place Part II – A sequel to the surprise 2017 hit sci-fi thriller written and directed by John Krasinski, again starring his wife Emily Blunt, who ventures beyond the safety of her home and encounter more dangers than the sound-sensitive unseen creatures.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye – A puckish look at the rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain) of the heavily made-up peepers, with Andrew Garfield as hubby Jim Bakker and Vincent D’Onofrio as Jerry Falwell.
Black Widow – Scarlett Johansson gets her own spinoff from the Avengers superheroes series, as Natasha Romanoff, a/k/a Black Widow, flexing her war-waging muscles.
In the Heights – Anthony Ramos (of Broadway’s Hamilton) steps into the role created by Lin Manuel Miranda as a bodega owner in Washington Heights, in the slice-of-neighborhood-life musical, based on Miranda’s Tony Award-winning show.
Top Gun: Maverick – Thirty-five years older but seemingly ageless, former Navy pilot James Mitchell, a/k/a Maverick (Tom Cruise) is now a test pilot, trying to avoid being grounded for an old-age home. Could this be the longest time between an original movie and its sequel?