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Like other audiences devastated by how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected movie release dates, you might not have gotten to see all (or even any) of the films you were anticipating the most in 2020. On the bright side, you still get to see your favorite DC heroine’s triumphant return in Wonder Woman 1984 and Pixar’s latest celebration of the afterlife in Soul by the end of year, and each with the option of going to the theater or streaming from home. Of course, those are not the only flicks to look forward to before 2021.
You could even say that 2020 has saved the best movies it has left to offer for last. For instance, you have David Fincher’s first feature-length film in six years with Mank, Resident Evil star Milla Jovovich fighting a different kind of evil in the cinematic adaptation of the Monster Hunter video games, or Paul Greengrass’ vision of the Old West in News of the World, which also stars Tom Hanks. It is a line-up almost exciting enough to forget about how Daniel Craig’s final James Bond performance in No Time to Die was pushed to April 2021, Ryan Reynolds’ unlikely video game hero story Free Guy has no release date at all at the moment, or other pressing uncertainties about the film industry.
But, again, let us not worry about any of that and focus on the now, because now is the time to think positively and you will be positively entertained by the films scheduled for release on streaming, VOD, or even theatrically this December. You may be itching to wish 2020 a jubilant “good riddance,” but first take the time to appreciate the following gifts this year is leaving you this holiday season before it goes, starting with a drama inspired by people and events that in inspired the "greatest movie of all time."
Mank - December 4 (Netflix And Theatrical)
Despite debuting with a big budget Hollywood production (the ill-fated Alien 3), it was comparatively smaller projects like Se7en that made David Fincher a living legend. The Academy Award nominated director’s first film since 2014’s Gone Girl is, itself, a tribute to one of the greatest unsung legends of cinema.
The abbreviated Mank, which is being released simultaneously in theaters and on Netflix, chronicles the making of Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane from the perspective of its troubled, Oscar-winning co-writer Herman Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman. In addition to being Fincher’s first feature-length project for Netflix after executive producing series like House of Cards and Mindhunter for the digital platform, it is also a passion project he has been working on since the ‘90s when his late father Jack Fincher wrote the script.
Sound Of Metal - December 4 (Amazon Prime Video And Theatrical)
Also being released in theaters and digitally this month as an Amazon Prime Video exclusive is this drama from director Darius Marder, whom you can tell had a passion to make his feature-length debut an unmistakably unique experience. Emmy winner Riz Ahmed plays Ruben, a rock drummer who begins to suffer hearing loss, in Sound of Metal, which is inspired by co-writer Derek Cianfrance’s own struggles with tinnitus.
While the film already has an intriguing concept that will undoubtedly appeal to a specific audience, it is especially fascinating for its experimental use of sound, which is designed to change as Ruben’s hearing weakens. It is almost like how Memento’s reversed storytelling allows you perceive the events as Guy Pearce’s character with short-term memory loss does.
Let Them All Talk - December 10 (HBO Max)
Audiences typically associate Steven Soderbergh with fun heist comedies like Ocean’s Eleven, or intimate historical dramas such as his two-part Che Guevara biopic, or even things a little bit weirder like Schizopolis or his fictionalized take on the life of writer Franz Kafka from 1991. Well, the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s latest effort, debuting exclusively on HBO Max, is actually a far cry from any of those things.
Steven Soderbergh reunites with his The Landromat star Meryl Streep for Let Them All Talk, in which the three-time Oscar-winning actress plays an author who looks to a luxury cruise trip to escape her dismal reality, if not for her longtime friends and young nephew ruining the illusion. The screenwriting debut of actress Deborah Eisenberg also stars fellow screen veterans Candice Bergen and Dianne West, emerging leading man Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan - British star of Crazy Rich Asians and the MCU’s upcoming Eternals movie.
The Prom - December 11 (Netflix)
Meryl Streep also headlines the star-studded cast of this old fashioned musical feature debuting this month on Netflix. The Prom is about a theater troupe who comes to the aid of an Indiana teen (Jo Ellen Pellman) whose conservative high school cancels the big dance after making a plea to openly attend with her girlfriend (Ariana DeBose).
The film, based on a Tony Award-nominated stage production that itself was inspired by true events, also stars Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Keegan-Michael Key, and Kerry Washington, to name a few. It is also directed by Ryan Murphy, who knows a thing or two about musicals with big laughs and an even bigger heart as the creator of Glee.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - December 18 (Netflix)
Music is also the lifeblood that fuels this period drama, which is also adapted from a fact-based play by August Wilson - the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fences. The Netflix original film (which was previously released in select theaters in November) takes place takes in Chicago in 1927 during a particularly tense recording session for “Mother of Blues” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (Viola Davis) and her ambitious band of musicians.
From producer Denzel Washington, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom may become one of the year’s most important releases for its exploration of the healing power of music. However, it will be also likely be remembered as the final film of Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther who passed away in 2020 at the age of 43 after a long, private battle with cancer.
Wonder Woman 1984 - December 25 (HBO Max And Theatrical)
Speaking of comic book movie stars, Gal Gadot reprises her wondrous, career-defining role in this highly anticipated superhero flick. Set nearly 70 years after the events of 2017’s Wonder Woman, the sequel pits Diana against a ruthless business tycoon (Pedro Pascal) and a woman with characteristics of a jungle cat (Kristen Wiig) amid the mysterious reappearance of her dead colleague and lover Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).
Returning to the director’s chair for Wonder Woman 1984 is Patty Jenkins, who also co-wrote the screenplay with comic book writer Geoff Johns and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings scribe David Callaham. The DC Extended Universe installment went through many schedule changes (mostly due to Covid-19) until Warner Bros. recently opted to simultaneously release it theatrically and digitally to HBO Max on Christmas Day.
Soul - December 25 (Disney+)
Instead of offering the additional theatrical release, Disney has decided to make its latest feature from Pixar a Disney+ exclusive on December 25. The prestigious animation studio has been known to use mortality as a recurring theme in its films and Soul is no exception.
In collaboration with Kemp Powers, Up and Inside Out director Pete Doctor helms this spiritual tale starring Jamie Foxx as the voice of a musician who loses his passion for the art and, then one day, his life. What follows is a journey to earn both of them back, with the help of an infant soul (Tina Fey) who still has yet to be born.
Monster Hunter - December 25 (Theatrical)
There is also an important journey at the center of this B-movie, as well a good heap of elaborate fight sequences between monster and man… or should I say “woman,” more accurately? The woman in question is Milla Jovovich, a staple of the sci-fi action crossover genre since she played the title role of The Fifth Element in 1997 and later became the face of the movie franchise based on the Resident Evil video games.
She is once again headlining a video game movie with Monster Hunter, in which she plays an army lieutenant whose crew is mysteriously transported to a world overrun with large, ferocious beasts. Milla Jovovich’s Resident Evil director and husband Paul W.S. Anderson helms this adaptation of popular Capcom franchise which also stars rapper T.I., martial arts movie star Tony Jaa, and Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman.
News Of The World - December 25 (Theatrical)
While not a cinematic adaptation of the 1977 Queen album, News of the World is based on a 2016 bestselling novel by Paulette Jiles. The plot also sounds like it could be a post-Civil War companion to True Grit.
The film stars two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks as a former Confederate Army captain turned traveling news announcer who is tasked with rescuing a little girl (Elizabeth Marvel) kidnapped by an indigenous tribe from the Great Plains. Hanks also produces this western drama, which reunites him with his Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass.
One Night In Miami - December 25 (Limited Theatrical)
Actress Regina King has starred in some of the most important projects to comment on racial disparity as of late, such as Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen series and If Beale Street Could Talk, which earned her her first Academy Award. She brings that same energy from behind the camera with her feature-length directorial debut, One Night in Miami.
The historical drama, which will be given a limited theatrical release on Christmas Day before premiering on Amazon Prime Video in January, is based on a stage play of the same name by the co-director of Soul, Kemp Powers, that, as the title suggests, takes place over the course of one night in the 1960s as four prominent Civil Rights activists discuss their roles in the movement. The all-star cast includes Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, Eli Goree as Muhammad Ali, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke.
What do you think? Do these titles convince you that 2020 may not have been the worst year for the film industry after all, or will you reserve judgment until you see them all first? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on all the biggest titles to look forward to here on CinemaBlend.