The 12 most anticipated films of 2021: 'No Time to Die', 'Dune', 'Black Widow' and more

The past year might have had big releases shelved, but luckily many of them should be hitting screens in the next 12 months

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Timothee Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from the upcoming 2021 film "Dune." Warner Bos. Pictures on Thursday announced that all of its 2021 film slate will stream on HBO Max at the same time they play in theaters. (Chia Bella James/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

Last year wasn’t an easy one for the film industry. The coronavirus pandemic has meant most new films were either delayed or released to streaming and video-on-demand services, including Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+ and Hulu, instead.

Even the oldest studios started to prioritise streaming platforms over the cinema experience. But while that might mean the future of the big screen looks bleak, audiences will still have plenty of exciting new films to watch this year.

Here are the 12 we’re most anticipating over the next 12 months.

'The Many Saints of Newark'

David Chase’s prequel to his beloved gangster series The Sopranos has a high bar to match if it's going to please fans. So it makes sense that Chase has re-teamed with former Sopranos writer Lawrence Konner and director Alan Taylor for it.

Set during the 1967 Newark riots, The Many Saints of Newark explores the rise of Christopher Moltisanti’s father, Dickie, played by Alessandro Nivola. Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga will portray Tony Soprano's father and mother.

But the most exciting additions are Goodfellas veteran Ray Liotta and Michael Gandolfini, who will play a young Tony Soprano, the role his father, James, made famous before his untimely death at the age of 51 in 2013.

'F9'

There are many reasons to be excited about the ninth Fast and the Furious film. It was due out last year, and the delay has only revved anticipation up another gear, especially since some of its cast have already teased that the blockbuster will go into space.

F9 will feature the return of Han Lue (Sung Kang), a former member of Dominic Toretto's (Vin Diesel) crew who was assumed dead. The film also stars Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren, while John Cena will join the series as the mischievous brother of Dom and Mia (Jordana Brewster).

Audiences will no doubt be left on the edge of their seats by more high-octane action that will undoubtedly verge into the ridiculous, but will keep even the most pretentious viewer enthralled.

'No Time to Die'

Daniel Craig’s swansong as 007 has been a long-time coming. The follow-up to 2015’s Spectre was originally supposed to be directed by Danny Boyle, who dropped out owing to creative differences in 2018.

Cary Joji Fukunaga was brought in as his replacement and co-wrote the script with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and, most excitingly, Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Her wit, freshness, edge and ability to shock and surprise should bring Bond into new territory, while its estimated budget of $250 million means it should include some of the finest action the series has ever produced.

That’s before we get to its villain, who will tantalisingly be portrayed by Best Actor Oscar-winner Rami Malek.

'A Quiet Place Part II'

Co-writer, director and star John Krasinski shocked the cinematic world back in 2018 when A Quiet Place proved to be one of the most audacious, inventive and visceral horror movies of recent years.

Set in a dystopian future, where the world has been invaded by blind monsters that have an acute sense of hearing, A Quiet Place was both a critical and financial success. This meant a sequel was inevitable. Part II is both a prequel and a sequel, as it continues where the original left off, while diving into the backstory of the Abbott family before the creatures attacked.

'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'

While Paul Feig’s 2016 reboot is nowhere near as bad as people insisted, this sequel to the supernatural comedy already looks much more suited to pleasing fans of the original films.

Firstly, it’s directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan, who directed Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. Plus, it’s a direct sequel to those films, and revolves around a family moving across the country and discovering their grandfather’s links to the original Ghostbusters.

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts’s returns have already been confirmed, too, while the presence of Paul Rudd means there should be as much laughs as there is nostalgia.

'Elvis'

It’s kind of bizarre that arguably the biggest name in pop culture history hasn’t had a movie that depicts his life and rise to fame. The always bombastic and captivating Baz Luhrmann feels like the right director to tell Elvis Presley’s story, while Austin Butler certainly looks the part, and Tom Hanks as his megalomaniac manager Colonel Tom Parker already has at least an Oscar nomination sewn up.

'West Side Story'

This is one of the greatest movies of all time. Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest directors of all time. So there’s no way this remake, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner, can go wrong … right?

The adaptation of the 1957 musical follows the story of love and rivalry between two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The film, which was scheduled for release last month, has now been pushed by almost a year.

'Last Night in Soho'

Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver have cemented Edgar Wright’s status as one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. Which makes it all the more thrilling that for Last Night in Soho he dives into the horror genre.

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandy, a young girl who travels back in time to the 1960s, where she soon discovers that things are much more disturbing than they seem. Co-written by 1917’s Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Last Night in Soho is still shrouded in secrecy, but we do know it is inspired by the likes of Don’t Look Now and Repulsion, and will give us the final film appearance of Diana Rigg, who died in September.

'Black Widow'

With audiences having long become accustomed to seeing a new Marvel film every couple of months, it feels odd to have gone without one for nearly two years.

Black Widow will finally reunite fans with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in May, while also giving us one final chance to say farewell to Scarlett Johansson’s titular superhero.

Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, it will hopefully answer many of the questions that have surrounded Natasha Romanoff ever since her debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Most importantly, though, it will also finally give the character the platform and action to prove that she should have had her own solo film a long time ago.

'In the Heights'

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical, and his predecessor to Hamilton, has actually been in development since 2008.

Set in the Washington Heights area of New York, the film tells the story of Usnavi, a bodega owner with big dreams, who is played by Anthony Ramos. The first trailer already suggests it will be a toe-tapping, visually resplendent cinematic odyssey that will hopefully mean it has been well worth the wait.

'Top Gun: Maverick'

It would be easy to dismiss Top Gun: Maverick as another lazy attempt by Hollywood to simply bring a popular movie from the 1980s to a new generation.

But Tom Cruise, who returns as test pilot and flight instructor Maverick, isn’t the sort of actor to just churn out a film for the sake of it. Instead, all of the actors involved had to undergo rigorous aviation training so the film could include real plane stunts instead of CGI. The first trailer instantly proved this approach was worth it, as it teased just how death-defying and rollicking the flight and action sequences are destined to be.

From the sound of things, Cruise clearly achieved all that he wanted with Top Gun: Maverick, because the only way he appears to be able to top it is by going into space – Cruise will be heading out of this world in October to shoot an as yet untitled film by Doug Liman, who directed the star in the 2014 film Edge of Tomorrow.

'Dune'

Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel is regarded by some as the perfect merging of director and material.

The film is set in the distant future, where noble houses fight for control across the galaxy. Warner Bros has backed Villeneuve's vision, providing him with a huge budget, incredible cast which includes Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and Josh Brolin and promising that it will be the first of two films.

That Dune is now being released on to HBO Max at the same time it is hitting cinemas might scupper those plans. Still, it looks utterly gorgeous and truly spectacular.