The Covid-19 pandemic might have disrupted the release of movies around the globe but that doesn't mean there's any less on offer. In fact, 2021 has been a bumper year for film. So if you're planning a future movie date post-lockdown, or looking for something to watch from the comfort of your couch, we've got you sorted.
Top five 2021 movies we're excited about
No Time To Die
The first major film to have its release cancelled in the early days of Covid, Daniel Craig's final (so he says) outing as James Bond has seen multiple release dates come and go since then. While rumours swirl as ever around possible replacement Bonds, audiences remain amped for one last go around with Craig, who is joined here by Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek as the villain.
Also starring: Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux
Release date: October 7
This new adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel from director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) aims to succeed where David Lynch's 1984 attempt famously went off the rails. About as ambitious as big studio movies get these days, this spicy epic needs to be a wide success to warrant a planned follow-up (only the book's first half is covered here, apparently), a tough ask for a pandemic era release.
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling
Release date: October 21
The Many Saints of Newark
Fourteen years after its iconic final episode aired, creator David Chase takes us back into the world of The Sopranos for this prequel film set in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Michael Gandolfini, the son of series star James, plays a young Tony Soprano in a story featuring his mentor Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola). It's a massive treat for the many fans of the show, one of the greatest TV dramas ever made.
Also starring: Leslie Odom Jr, Vera Farmiga, Ray Liotta
Release date: November 4
One of a glut of Marvel Comics adaptations coming down the pike (in addition to Shang-Chi, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Venom 2 and Morbius) this cosmic tale distinguishes itself by virtue of its female-led cast (Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie) and the presence behind the camera of 2021 Best Director Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao. Based on the trailer, Zhao will be injecting some of the same artful lyricism into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that drove her Best Picture-winner Nomadland.
Also starring: Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani
Release date: November 4
West Side Story
Although there hasn't exactly been a loud demand for another adaptation of the iconic Broadway musical - previously made into an Oscar-sweeping 1961 film - the prospect of seeing what Steven Spielberg, directing his first musical, does with the material is undeniably exciting. Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) leads a mostly unknown cast in a take that promises to be more rooted in the reality of 1950s New York than the heavily stylised earlier film.
Also starring: Maddie Ziegler, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose
Release date: December 26
Ones to catch up on
Standing out among a particularly strong recent batch of New Zealand movies, Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith's adaptation of Patricia Grace's novel is an intensely emotional tale of three wāhine throughout three very different lives. The representational power is tangible.
The horror of dementia is given unique form in this conceptual drama that successfully exploits the subjectivity of cinema to place the viewer in the mind of someone losing theirs. Olivia Colman is outstanding and Anthony Hopkins' upset Oscar win for Best Actor was well-deserved.
Lee Isaac Chung's autobiographical film about growing up in 1980s rural Arkansas as a Korean immigrant is a gentle subversion of immigrant story cliches enlivened by a variety of rich performances and a deeply authentic sense of family.
The Suicide Squad
Writer/director James Gunn shows how much can be gained in a superhero movie when you stop targeting families and allow violence, swear words and a little mean-spirited fun to inform the proceedings. More blockbusters should be this silly.
Nicolas Cage tones it down and reminds you how good an actor he is in this beautifully crafted tale of a beaten-down loner who just wants his stolen truffle pig back. An instant addition to the small but delicious canon of proper foodie movies.