2021 Movie Catch-Up, Part 3: The Unseen

Around this time of year, I usually make up a list of unseen 2021 movie releases I want to catch up with in preparation for the annual Movie Awards and Top 10. Last year was an odd one due to that whole pandemic situation, which has obviously bled into this year. Recent activity has accelerated (for me, at least), and it seems like theaters are starting a long, slow rebound. As of this moment, I’ve seen 76 movies that could be considered a 2021 release – a significant increase from last year at this time. While this is mostly lead by more accessible streaming drops, the recent glut of theatrical releases has been heartening.

After a quick look around, there are still quite a few movies I’d like to catch up with. Lots of movies haven’t come out yet, but others are things I just never caught up with from earlier in the year. Standard disclaimers apply: I consider some 2020 movies a 2021 release if it didn’t get distributed in the US until 2021. This list is not comprehensive. I probably won’t watch everything on this list. I will probably watch things not on this list. And so on. Let’s goooo:


West Side Story – I must admit that this does not tick many of my boxes. I’m not a big fan of musicals, I tend to be stricter when it comes to remakes (especially when the original is a classic), and the casting doesn’t do much for me (even before Ansel Elgort’s rumors, I wasn’t a huge fan). But it does tick one rather important box, which is that it’s Spielberg and I always want to watch what he puts out.

West Side Story

Spider-Man: No Way Home – I’ve been good at keeping up with Marvel, and this looks like it’s going to be a huge hit, but I’m somewhat guarded about it. For one thing, it seems like all the Marvel Spider-Mans involve more franchise service than I’d like (i.e. prominence of Iron Man in the first two movies, Dr. Strange in this new one, etc…) For another, it looks like they’re venturing into the Spider-Verse, which is something that’s already been done well and recently. I’m sure this will still be fun.

Nightmare Alley – I know very little about this other than that it’s Guillermo del Toro, which is basically enough for me.

The Matrix Resurrections – I guess it’s enough of an event that I’ll check it out, but my expectations are not especially high. This might work in the movie’s favor! But there’s a very real chance that my expectations are still too high, which is concerning.

Streaming Exclusives

To be fair, many of these will have some sort of theatrical qualifying run… that probably won’t be widely accessible unless you live in NY or LA, so I guess I’m using the term “exclusive” loosely.

The Beatles: Get Back (Apple TV+)- Peter Jackson’s 8 hour long documentary about the Beatles is one of those annoying TV/Movie hybrid things people love to argue about. I’m not entirely sure it will justify the runtime, but it seems to be garnering lots of buzz, so I’ll at least give it a shot.

Oxygen (Netflix) – Small scale genre thriller that doesn’t sound particularly great, but Alexandre Aja always manages to pull more out of tired premises than I expect, so I’ll certainly give it a shot.

The Power of the Dog (Netflix) – Jane Campion directed this Western drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Jesse Plemons, seems interesting.

Don’t Look Up (Netflix) – Adam McKay, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, the lunatic who did… that… to Jennifer Lawrence’s hair, and a premise involving a comet that could destroy earth… could be fun!

The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple TV+) – Joel Coen sans his brother Ethan, adapting Shakespeare with Denzel in the lead? I’m in.

Space Sweepers (Netflix) – This Korean Science Fiction movie came out earlier this year, but for some reason I never caught up with it then. But it’s been on my radar…

Independent & Art House

Licorice Pizza – New Paul Thomas Anderson, always an event (at least, amongst film dorks).

Pig – This Nicolas Cage flick came out in limited release earlier this year and got great reviews, but is now available on Hulu so I’m going to give it a run. Update: I have seen it, and lo, it was good.


Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven’s already infamous “horny Nun” movie has certain segments of film dorks quite excited. Seems like it could tread similar ground to The Devils, but maybe I’m just being pessimistic.

Agnes – Another Nun movie. It’s all Nuns, all the time in 2021! Seriously though, this seems like one of those horror movies that critics call “elevated”, whatever that means. I’m looking forward to it (honestly, probably more so than Benedetta).

The Humans – Another A24 elevated genre thing, but it looks interesting.

‎The Beta Test – Jim Cummings co-wrote and co-directed this skewering of Hollywood. I don’t know a lot about it, but Cummings is always unusual and interesting…

The Green Knight – Definitely want to catch up with this gorgeous looking fantastical retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight…

Titane – I don’t know much about this French flick other than that it was directed by Julia Ducournau, which might be enough!

Miscellaneous, Genre, &c.

Stillwater – Tom McCarthy and Matt Damon quietly released this crime drama early in the year, but it’s something I’d like to catch up with.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain – This documentary about Bourdain garnered some notoriety due to a weird CGI recreation or somesuch, but I definitely want to catch up with it at some point.

Copshop – Joe Carnahan directed and Gerard Butler (in what appears to be full Den of Thieves dirtbag mode) stars in this crime thriller. Not expecting anything crazy good, but for whatever reason, Carnahan always entertains me (and often adds some uncomfortable bits that make you think).

Well, that’s 21 movies, which is probably enough for now. Again, I almost certainly won’t see all these, and will probably watch other stuff not on the list. It’s been an interesting year, and there’s plenty of interesting stuff coming (or that I need to catch up with)….

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