It is commonly assumed among most moviegoers that the first month of the year is essentially Hollywood’s landfill for dumping their least promising releases. However, after a year with as many delays as 2020, the new movies coming in January 2021 sound especially promising, such as The Little Things - a crime thriller with Denzel Washington and Jared Leto coming to both theaters and HBO Max.
Of course, there are many more exciting titles releasing in theaters, on streaming, for digital rental, or with multiple options this month. Ring in the new year with the first 19 films of 2021, starting with an action-packed period piece.
Shadow In The Cloud (Friday, January 1 - Theaters And VOD)
Chloë Grace Moretz and her The 5th Wave co-star Nick Robinson reunite for more old fashioned kind of warfare, but encounter circumstances that are just as strange, in this sci-fi popcorn flick starring the 23-year-old actress as a pilot risking life and limb to transport top secret information during World War II. From director Roseanne Liang, Shadow in the Cloud is already one of the best reviewed films of 2021 and will be released in theaters and Video On Demand.
Charming (Friday, January 8 - Netflix)
Coming to Netflix for its US premiere is this animated film that puts numerous classic fairy tale characters in a new light. Wilmer Valderama (Fez from That ‘70s Show) voices the titular prince of Charming, who must choose between Cinderella (Ashley Tisdale), Snow White (Avril Lavigne), or Sleeping Beauty (G.E.M.) as his soulmate to break a kingdom-wide curse, unless a female adventurer posing as man (Demi Lovato) manages to capture his heart instead.
Herself (Friday, January 8 - Amazon Prime)
Capture, in the literal sense, is what abused wife and mother Sandra (Clare Dunne) manages to escape before deciding to build a new home for her and her daughters and a new life in this Amazon Prime original. From Phyllida Lloyd, director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady, Herself is an inspiring Irish drama about rediscovering one’s self in times of great struggle that also hit theaters in late 2020.
The Reason I Jump (Friday, January 8 - Theaters)
Audiences are sure to be inspired by this uplifting and unique documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Jerry Rothwell. Using the non-fiction book of the same name by Naoki Higashida as a basis, The Reason I Jump is an in-depth, emotionally compelling examination of people all around the world with a form of autism that leaves them mute.
Pieces Of A Woman (Thursday, January 7 - Theaters And Netflix)
Someone who could really use some uplifting inspiration is Vanessa Kirby's character in Pieces of a Woman, which stars the Mission: Impossible - Fallout actress as a young mother mourning a tragic loss over the course of a year. The Netflix original drama, which is also hitting theaters the same day, stars Shia LaBeouf as Kirby’s husband and Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn as her manipulative mother.
Acasa, My Home (Friday, January 15 - Theaters)
Another documentary feature that has received much praise for its moving subject matter is Acasa, My Home, which is coming to theaters mid-January. The directorial debut of investigative journalist Radu Ciorniciuc profiles a group of children and their parents whose idyllic lifestyle in wilderness of Bucharest is interrupted, forcing them adopt a new urban lifestyle.
American Skin (Friday, January 15 - VOD)
Nate Parker - the writer, director, and star of the brutal pre-Civil War social commentary The Birth of a Nation - brings his crusade against racial injustice to modern times with his sophomore feature-length effort. He also leads the cast of American Skin, released on digital this month, as a Marine veteran who takes matters in his own hands after his son is killed by a police officer.
The Marksman (Friday, January 15 - Theaters)
No one takes matters into their own hands quite like Liam Neeson, who is once again unleashing his own brand of justice in the title role of The Marksman. The Irish, 68-year-old unstoppable action star plays an Arizona rancher who uses his skills with a fireman to protect a Mexican boy from cartel assassins who have chased him across the border.
Outside The Wire (Friday, January 15 - Netflix)
People seeking an action fix from home in January should find just what they are looking for with Outside the Wire, a Netflix original from acclaimed Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström. The futuristic war thriller stars Anthony Mackie, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next Captain America, as a different kind of super soldier who is partnered with a young drone pilot (Damson Idris) to prevent a nuclear attack.
MLK/FBI (Friday, January 15 - Theaters And VOD)
Hitting theaters and Video On Demand at the appropriate time of Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend is the release of this documentary that sheds light on his personal life through newly declassified federal records. From Oscar-nominated documentarian Sam Pollard, MLK/FBI provides fascinating insight into the US government’s surveillance of the civil rights leader as well as its additional covert attempts to silence social activists throughout history.
One Night In Miami (Friday, January 15 - Amazon Prime)
Also just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend is the Amazon Prime premiere of Regina King’s feature-length directorial debut, which offers a fictionalized, but fascinating, account of the civil rights movement from four of its most famous notable figures. Based on the play by Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Eli Goree as Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke.
Some Kind Of Heaven (Friday, January 15 - Theaters And VOD)
For a taste of the Florida lifestyle from a different sort of perspective, try this feature produced by Darren Aronofsky and The New York Times. Through immersive cinematography and revealing interviews with retirees, this documentary attempts to figure out why The Villages, the largest retirement community in the United States, is considered to be Some Kind of Heaven.
No Man's Land (Friday, January 22 - Theaters And VOD)
“Heaven” is not how many would describe the land between Texas and Mexico - the titular location of No Man’s Land, in which a young Texan who has a change of heart over his southern neighbors after a tragic mistake forces him to take refuge across the border. Conor Allyn directs his younger brother Jake Allyn in the central role of this western action thriller, which also stars Frank Grillo, Andie MacDowell, and comedian George Lopez.
The White Tiger (Friday, January 22 - Theaters And Netflix)
The Matrix 4 star Priyanka Chopra both stars in and executive produces this Netflix original crime dramedy based in her home country of India. Inspired by the best-selling novel from Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger follows a chauffeur (Adarsh Gourav) who rebels against his wealthy employees (Chopra and Rajkummar Rao) to escape a grisly fate and assert himself to the top of the food chain.
The Dig (Friday, January 29 - Netflix)
Also arriving in theaters and on Netflix is this biographical drama detailing the early excavation of two medieval cemeteries in Suffolk, England, in 1939. The Dig stars Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty, whose land was discovered to be the site of the Sutton Hoo ship’s burial by archaeologist Basil Brown, played by two-time Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes.
The Little Things (Friday, January 29 - Theaters And HBO Max)
The first Warner Bros. film to be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max in 2021 pits two Oscar winners against another Oscar winner in an intense game of cat and mouse. Denzel Washington and Rami Malek star as a pair of California cops tracking a serial killer played by Jared Leto in The Little Things - a crime thriller from writer and director John Lee Hancock.
The Night (Friday, January 29 - Theaters And VOD)
A recently emigrated Iranian couple face a stranger kind of evil when they become trapped in a hotel by a mysterious presence that forces them to confront the darkness that separates them. From one of the producers of 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, The Night is an intense psychological horror flick that has already drawn comparisons to the Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining and even Twin Peaks from David Lynch.
Palmer (Friday, January 29 - Apple TV+)
In his first live action acting role since 2017, musician and Trolls star Justin Timberlake plays the title character of this drama about an ex-convict who befriends a boy with a troubled home life as he struggles to move on from his own past. Directed by actor Fisher Stevens and also starring Juno Temple, Palmer will be available to stream exclusively from Apple TV+
Supernova (Friday, January 29 - Theaters And VOD)
British actor Harry MacQueen’s sophomore outing as a writer and director, Supernova, is destined to be one of the most moving romantic dramas of the year. It stars Oscar winner Colin Firth and Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as longtime lovers traveling across England, devoted to spending as much time together as possible, after one of them is diagnosed with early onset dementia.
What do you think? Does a tragic romance between two actors as skilled as Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci sound like a match made in heaven, or are you more interested in starting off this new year on a more positive note after experiencing enough tragedy in 2020? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on what other movies there are to look forward to in 2021 here on CinemaBlend.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.