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10 must-see movies heading to streaming in 2021, from ‘One Night in Miami’ to ‘Coming 2 America’

  • January 07, 2021

2020 – at least for a while.

Theaters were closed for much of last year as a COVID-19 safety measure, which sent Hollywood into chaos yet also put an emphasis on audiences getting new films via streaming services and video-on-demand digital platforms. And with 2021 beginning just as 2020 ended, with surges in coronavirus cases and stay-at-home orders again bringing productions to a standstill, it doesn’t seem that moviegoing will return to normal anytime soon.

So that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is there’s plenty of stuff coming to keep you entertained, from Oscar-ready films to star-filled projects. Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV+ continue to generate original fare, plus Warner Bros. is making its entire 2021 slate – including huge franchise films like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Dune” and “The Matrix 4” – available the same day in theaters and on HBO Max (for 31 days).

Here are 10 movies coming in the first half of the year that you’ll definitely want to put on your streaming calendar:

Ranked! The 10 best movies of 2020, from ‘One Night in Miami’ to ‘The Invisible Man’

What to stream:All the Warner Bros. movies coming to HBO Max, from ‘In the Heights’ to ‘Suicide Squad’

KIngsley Ben-Adir stars as Nation of Islam activist Malcolm X in Regina King's period drama One Night in Miami.

‘One Night in Miami’ (Jan. 15)

Stars: Eli Goree, Leslie Odom Jr. and Kingsley Ben-Adir

Director: Regina King

The skinny: After winning the heavyweight title in 1964, boxer Cassius Clay (Goree) gathers his friends and fellow icons – NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), singer Sam Cooke (Odom) and activist Malcolm X (Ben-Adir) – for a celebration. A hotel room is ground zero for a lively discussion about their lives, passions, beliefs and roles in the civil rights movement in King’s directorial debut.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Justin Timberlake plays a high school football hero and ex-con who returns to his Louisiana hometown in the drama Palmer.

‘Palmer’ (Jan. 29)

Stars: Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple and Alisha Wainwright

Director: Fisher Stevens

The skinny: In one of his most dramatic acting roles, Timberlake plays a former Louisiana high-school football star who spends 12 years in the slammer. A story of redemption follows as he returns home to live with his grandmother (June Squibb), finds a connection with a bullied 7-year-old (Ryder Allen) living next door, and falls for the youngster’s teacher (Wainwright), though he’s still haunted by the past.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

John David Washington stars as a filmmaker and Zendaya plays his girlfriend in the black-and-white romantic drama Malcolm  Marie, filmed entirely during the pandemic.

‘Malcolm Marie’ (Feb. 5)

Stars: Zendaya and John David Washington

Director: Sam Levinson

The skinny: Filmed during the pandemic, the black-and-white romantic drama – and ode to old-school Hollywood movies – stars Washington as a filmmaker and Zendaya as his girlfriend who attend a high-profile premiere. Awaiting the reviews from critics, the couple returns home for a night filled with unforeseen revelations that will test their love and relationship.

Where to watch: Netflix

Daniel Kaluuya (center) stars as Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton, who's targeted by the FBI in the period drama Judas and the Black Messiah.

‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ (Feb. 12)

Stars: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya and Martin Sheen

Director: Shaka King

The skinny: The 1960s-set period drama stars Stanfield as a criminal who, instead of going to jail, accepts a plea deal to work with the FBI as an informant. His mission: Infiltrate and gather intelligence on Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), chairman of Illinois’ Black Panther Party, when the government becomes concerned Hampton is putting together a rainbow coalition of oppressed people.

Where to watch: HBO Max

When Tusker (Stanley Tucci, left) is diagnosed with early onset dementia, he and his partner Sam (Colin Firth) vow to spend as much time together as possible in the love story Supernova.

‘Supernova’ (Feb. 16)

Stars: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci and Pippa Haywood

Director: Harry Macqueen

The skinny: In the touching love story, Sam (Firth) and Tusker (Tucci) star as a gay couple who’ve been together for 20 years. When Tusker is diagnosed with early onset dementia, they vow to spend as much time together as they can, which includes hopping in a camper van and traveling across England to see loved ones and places from their past.

Where to watch: Video on demand

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Andra Day stars in The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ (Feb. 26)

Stars: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes and Garrett Hedlund 

Director: Lee Daniels

The skinny: Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Day stars as legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday in this drama set in 1940s New York City. The federal government’s escalation of its war on drugs targets Holiday to keep her from singing her controversial ballad “Strange Fruit,” and her defiance proves crucial to the nascent civil rights movement.

Where to watch: Hulu

The newly crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy, left) returns to New York City to meet his son (Jermaine Fowler) in the comedy sequel Coming 2 America.

‘Coming 2 America’ (March 5)

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Jermaine Fowler

Director: Craig Brewer

The skinny: With a supporting cast including James Earl Jones, Tracy Morgan and Wesley Snipes, the sequel to the beloved 1988 comedy returns Murphy as newly crowned King Akeem (Murphy) of Zamunda and Hall as his confidante Semmi, who return to Queens when Akeem finds out he fathered a son (Fowler) with a New York City woman (Leslie Jones).

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

The lone warrior Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) ventures to find the legendary last dragon and stop the villainous Druun in Raya and the Last Dragon.

‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ (March 5)

Stars: Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina

Directors: Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada

The skinny: Set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons used to live in harmony, the Disney animated adventure centers on lone warrior Raya (voiced by Tran) faced with the return of the dangerous, monstrous Druun. To save the world, Raya has to find the mythical last dragon, a magical and self-deprecating sort named Sisu (Awkwafina).

Where to watch: Disney+

Tom Holland stars as an Iraq War vet who gets involved in bank robbing to fund his drug addiction in the coming-of-age film Cherry.

‘Cherry’ (March 12)

Stars: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo and Jack Reynor

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

The skinny: The Russo brothers (the filmmakers behind the last three “Avengers” movies) re-team with Holland for this darkly comic coming-of-age tale. Holland’s title character is a young Ohio college dropout and Army medic who returns from Iraq a war hero, finds himself beset by symptoms of PTSD. He robs banks to finance his drug addiction, which puts Cherry’s relationship with his true love (Bravo) at risk. 

Where to watch: Apple TV+

Amy Adams plays an agoraphobic psychologist who witnesses a bloody scene from across the street in the twisty thriller The Woman in the Window.

‘The Woman in the Window’ (spring/summer)

Stars: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore

Director: Joe Wright

The skinny: Based on the A.J. Finn novel, the thriller stars Adams as agoraphobic psychologist Anna Fox, who never leaves her brownstone and spies on nearby residents. Anna befriends a woman (Moore) living across the street, witnesses a bloody incident involving her neighbor through the window, and then a mystery arises involving the cops and the woman’s husband (Oldman). 

Where to watch: Netflix

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