By Tilly Long, Third Year, English Literature
From Parasite to Portrait of a Lady on Fire, 2020 gave us an abundance of formidable films despite it being one of the most unprecedented years in cinema to date. Here are just seven films poised for escapist enjoyment throughout the new year, whether that be during a trip to the big screen or just the communal TV in your flat!
1. Malcolm & Marie dir. Sam Levinson
First up, Sam Levinson, creator of acclaimed miniseries Euphoria (2019-), has made the first feature film to be entirely written and filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Tenet (2020)’s John David Washington and Euphoria’s Zendaya seem to have taken on more mature starring roles in Malcolm & Marie, whose trailer explicitly tells us ‘this is not a love story.’ It follows the turbulent aftermath based on a real experience of Levinson’s: forgetting to thank his wife at the premiere of one of his movies. COVID restrictions meant that no make-up artists or costume designers were utilised, with only a few people allowed on set at a time. These elements, teamed with the fact it was shot on black and white 35mm film, indicates it will be a stripped back, theatre-like, Hollywood event. Catch it on February 5th, on Netflix!
2. Judas and the Black Messiah dir. Shaka King
Another date to pen into your film calendar, February 26th is the UK release date for Judas and The Black Messiah, making it eligible just in time for the 2021 Oscars Ceremony! Set in 1960s Illinois, Sorry to Bother You (2017)’s Lakeith Stanfield will play criminal William O’Neal, who agrees to spy and infiltrate the Black Panther Party for the FBI. The film details the life and betrayal of the party’s chairman, Fred Hampton, played by Get Out (2016)’s Daniel Kaluuya.
3. Last Night in Soho dir. Edgar Wright
Known for his comedic anthology series otherwise known as the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013)), British director Edgar Wright’s first psychological horror film is due to come out April 23.
It will star the queen of both our hearts and the chessboard, Anya Taylor-Joy. She is playing an aspiring designer who encounters her idol in London, with ensuing suspicious consequences.
4. Dune dir. Denis Villeneuve
One of the most highly anticipated events of the cinematic year, a new adaptation of science fiction classic Dune is set to finally grace screens. Denis Villaneuve, known for recent sci-fi endeavours such as Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Arrival (2016), has expressed that this was a pipeline dream he never thought he would succeed in getting the rights to make. The all-star cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Josh Brolin, who will be seemingly returning for an already agreed sequel.
5. The Green Knight dir. David Lowery
To the delight of English students with a flair for medieval literature, and A24 enthusiasts alike, here comes an epic fantasy adventure based on a timeless Arthurian legend!
Everyone’s favourite Brit Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Lion (2016)) will play Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s energetic daredevil nephew, on a journey to challenge the viridescent Green Knight. Echoing existential themes of his last movie A Ghost Story (2017), visionary director David Lowery will explore Gawain’s deeper quest to define himself. It's set to hit cinemas on 30 July, so cross your fingers and toes for no more delays!
6. Minari dir. Lee Isaac Chung
We’ve all been waiting for this one! The most loved film of 2020’s Sundance Festival is finally arriving in the UK on March 19th: a delicate and autobiographical coming of age tale focusing on a Korean-American family trying to survive in 1980s Kansas. Directed by Lee Issac Chung and starring criminally underrated legend Steven Yeun (Burning (2018), Okja (2017)), Minari is the one film on this list you need to make a point to watch in 2021.
7. The French Dispatch dir. Wes Anderson
Ensemble casts have always owned my heart. But no director’s trademark style when utilising group performances is as distinctively idiosyncratic as Wes Anderson’s. Each addition to his filmography resides within a perfectly symmetrical microworld, populated by a host of memorably quirky characters, who often reincarnate recurring actors (Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swilton and the Wilson brothers). Having been previously removed from Searchlight’s release calendar, the more recent news that The French Dispatch is coming to screens this May, genuinely made my year.
The title relates to the staff of a European publication, who will take us through a decade of highlights, involving kidnaps, artists, student riots and chefs. While the trailer tantalises us with visions of a meticulously permed Saoirse Ronan filing her nails next to a confession booth along with a turban wearing Timothee Chalamet squealing ‘I’m naked!’ from a bath to Frances McDormand, cult followers will have to be sustained in the meantime by Anderson’s previous, endlessly fantastical works.
Which film are you most looking forward to this year?