By Mia Tobin Power
2021 should be a great year for films, what with the backlog from 2020, as well as a slate of new films, made both during the pandemic and before it. There are quite a few major films to look forward to – such as the James Bond film No Time to Die and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch – but with major studios and directors still intent on releasing these films in cinemas, it’s difficult to imagine we’ll get to see them anytime soon. However, as we wait, Netflix is offering something of a solution to this problem: they’ll be releasing a new original film every week. With 70 new films announced so far, there’s sure to be something for everyone. So, what are some films we can look forward to over the next 12 months?
Netflix’s movie marathon had its first major release on February 5th, when we were able to watch Malcolm & Marie, the new drama from Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, featuring solely Zendaya and John David Washington. This film was written and filmed during the pandemic, and while it’s not the first pandemic film to be released, it is the first of them to contend for Oscars. And, since it is in black and white, features two rising stars, and comments on the modern film industry, its chances of success are looking good.
Later in the year, we have Adam McKay’s new comedy Don’t Look Up to look forward to. There’s not much information about it available yet, but we do know that it’s about two astronomers who try to convince the world that a comet will soon destroy Earth – and that it has an extremely star-studded cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Evans, Timothée Chalamet, and even Ariana Grande. And speaking of star-studded casts, Netflix will also be releasing The Harder They Fall, a Western starring Regina King, Idris Elba, LaKeith Stanfield, and Jonathan Majors, among others. And if that line-up of actors wasn’t enough to pique your interest, it’s produced by Jay-Z.
In what is likely to be a much-needed break from the outside world, the last films in both the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth series will be making their way to Netflix this year. Also, Hamilton fans are sure to be interested in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut Tick,Tick…Boom! – an adaptation of the Broadway musical, with Andrew Garfield and Vanessa Hudgens.
If you are looking for a thriller/horror, O2 sounds like it might be a popular one among Netflix subscribers – its premise is that a woman wakes up in a cryogenic chamber, with no memory of who she is or how she got there, and realises she must escape before she runs out of oxygen.
Even though I’m sure we’d prefer to see them in the cinema, we can still watch big budget action films from our homes, and Red Notice looks like it’s going to be a hit. It stars some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Dwayne Johnson plays an Interpol agent who must hunt down Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, who play a high-profile art thief and conman respectively (no wonder Netflix was eager to acquire the distribution rights to this one!).
Since the future of the MCU is intertwined with whether cinemas can safely reopen, we might be left wanting for superhero films this year too. Enter Thunder Force, a comedy about two childhood friends with superpowers who try to stop super-villains from taking over Chicago. It stars Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, and is written and directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone. It sounds fun, at least.
Finally, Netflix will be continuing its attempts to win an Oscar with the drama/spy thriller Munich. It joins the broad category of “films about World War II”, but with more of a focus on politics and intrigue – against the backdrop of the 1938 Munich Conference – than your usual war film. It sounds like Jeremy Irons will be a major Best Actor contender for the 2022 Oscars (just in case you wanted to get ready for it in advance) for his performance as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. George MacKay also stars, after rising to fame in 2019 as the lead in 1917, yet another critically acclaimed war drama. This one only started filming in November 2020, so we may be waiting until the end of the year to see it.
Most of these films don’t have release dates yet, so there’s still uncertainty about when exactly they’ll be available for us to watch. But the fact that they all have a home on Netflix suggests that there won’t be as much confusion around whether or not they’ll actually be released this year – so now we just have to wait and see.