BRIAN VINER takes a look at the movies to savour in 2021
Pass the popcorn, this year’s a blockbuster! From Top Gun 2 to the return of The King, BRIAN VINER takes a look at the movies to savour in 2021
As cinemas close, again, this is a meagre week for new releases. So, instead, here are a dozen films we can look forward to seeing before 2021 is out.
There are some real corkers, too; plenty to get excited about, even if most of the release dates, like so much else in these uncertain times, are still provisional. Happy viewing!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (February)
The screen version of the hit West End show, featuring Sharon Horgan, Sarah Lancashire and Richard E. Grant alongside newcomer Max Harwood, in the title role as a boy from a tough Sheffield council estate who yearns to be a drag queen.
I can’t recommend the stage musical highly enough. It’s warm, exuberant and moving (and based on a true story), so here’s hoping the film adaptation, along the lines of Billy Elliot 20-odd years ago, will be as good — if not better.
The screen version of the hit West End show, featuring Sharon Horgan, Sarah Lancashire and Richard E. Grant alongside newcomer Max Harwood, in the title role. Richard E. Grant is pictured as Loco Chanelle
Frances McDormand is all but guaranteed a raft of award nominations for her stunning performance as a widow on her uppers, who sells her home and travels round the American West in her camper van, picking up seasonal work wherever she can.
No Time To Die (April)
The producers and distributors of the 25th Bond film decided that its title, in box-office terms, might have come all too true had they pressed ahead with the already-postponed theatrical release in November. So, to the despair of the beleaguered cinema industry, they pushed back yet again.
Let’s hope that Daniel Craig’s swansong as 007 is worth the interminable wait, and then we can concern ourselves with the biggest question of all: who will be next to play the world’s most famous secret agent?
Last Night In Soho (April)
Anya Taylor-Joy, on a roll after her lead part in the smash Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit, plays a would-be fashion designer transported back to the Swinging Sixties in a psychological horror film that for British writer-director Edgar Wright is a rare departure from comedy.
Intriguingly, the film also features some of the very people whom you might expect to have encountered in Soho’s Carnaby Street back then — on a good day, at least — including Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and, in her final screen role, the late Diana Rigg.
Anya Taylor-Joy, on a roll after her lead part in the smash Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit, plays a would-be fashion designer in Last Night In Soho
The French Dispatch (May)
When the name Wes Anderson is attached to a film, the chances are it will be a singular treat. He usually assembles top-notch casts, too, though he has outdone himself in this comedy-drama, presenting three separate tales from the French bureau of a fictional U.S. newspaper.
Anderson calls it a ‘love letter’ to journalism, inspired by his affection for the New Yorker magazine. And how’s this for a bill: Bill Murray, Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Anjelica Huston, Lea Seydoux and Adrien Brody — among others.
Marry Me (May)
Jennifer Lopez plays a pop superstar who, on stage, after learning that her fiancé has been cheating on her, picks out of the crowd a random fan holding a ‘Marry Me’ sign . . . and takes him up on his offer. He happens to be a maths teacher, played by Owen Wilson. It’s the sort of daft premise — Notting Hill meets The Proposal — that might just add up to one of the year’s best rom-coms.
Fan male: Owen Wilson stars with Jennifer Lopez in Marry Me
Top Gun: Maverick (July)
In 2012, two years after he agreed to make this sequel to his own memorable 1986 film, British director Tony Scott took his own life. But after some uncertainty the project survived that tragedy, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as the U.S. Navy’s greatest aviator, now a seen-it-all veteran but, naturally, still flying up a storm.
The last documentary from Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson was 2018’s remarkable They Shall Not Grow Old, which chronicled World War I so vividly.
This time, he has got back to work on hours and hours of unseen Beatles footage, originally shot in 1969 for the film Let It Be. Judging by the teaser he released just before Christmas, it will be a huge treat for fans of the Fab Four.
The Last Duel (October)
Ridley Scott directs this thriller based on a true story and set in 14th-century France, with Adam Driver and Matt Damon (the film’s co-writer with Ben Affleck) as a pair of proud knights, former best friends, who are ordered to fight to the death after one accuses the other of raping his wife (Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer). Affleck plays King Charles VI and Harriet Walter pops up, too. Zut alors!
Adam Driver (pictured) and Matt Damon star as a pair of proud knights in The Last Duel
Plenty have tried to adapt Frank Herbert’s mighty and supposedly ‘unfilmable’ 1965 sci-fi novel for the big screen.
David Lynch’s 1984 effort was plain weird, so three cheers for French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve — who has impressive form in the genre, having made the well-received Blade Runner 2049 — for having another go. Timothée Chalamet leads a fine cast.
After a year’s delay to the release, it’s now or never for Baz Luhrmann’s biographical drama about Elvis Presley, which stars Tom Hanks as Elvis’s formidable manager Colonel Tom Parker, with Austin Butler as the king of rock’n’roll.
The shoot, which took place in Queensland, Australia, was postponed while Hanks and his wife, Rita, recovered from Covid-19. He returned to the project six months later, all shook up but unbowed.
West Side Story (December)
Something’s coming, as lovestruck Jets gang member Tony sings. And that something is a remake. Frankly, if I were asked which classic screen musical was least in need of another version, West Side Story would probably vie with The Sound Of Music for the No. 1 spot.
So why has Steven Spielberg, of all people, decided to have another crack? We must wait almost 12 months to find out.
For now, I can at least tell you that Rita Moreno, who won an Academy Award for her role as Anita in the original 1961 film, also has a part in this one, even though she turns 90 this year.
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