Traditional movie watching has been one of the many simplicities the Covid-19 pandemic has taken away. With films being shut down mid-production and the uncertainty of projects that haven’t even made it off the script yet, the future of movie releases was looking bleak. However, studios started adapting to the changes and were able to produce and release an impressive lineup of films throughout the pandemic.
Along with the hype for new releases, 2021 is bringing highly anticipated films throughout the year that feature black leads in all different genres. From musicals to seat-gripping horrors, here are some black-led films that need to be on your radar this year.
- Judas and the Black Messiah (February 12th) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSjtGqRXQ9Y
Academy Award nominee Daniel Kaluuya takes on the role of Black Panther chairman, Fred Hampton, alongside LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, an FBI informant inside of the Panther Party. This story recounts the events leading up to an ultimate betrayal and Hampton’s assassination by the FBI in 1969. This Warner Brothers production has already created a buzz for award season, and it will be interesting to see what director Shaka King has done with this sobering moment in history.
- Malcolm & Marie (February 5th) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGZmwsK58M8
Euphoria director, Sam Levinson, collaborates with Emmy Award winner Zendaya alongside John David Washington in an intimate yet tension-filled romantic drama. Shot completely in black-and-white, this film showcases a classic and simplified charm while exhibiting very dynamic expressions of anger, love, and everything in between.
- Zola (June 30th) https://twitter.com/A24/status/1291388616451686404
Based on a chaotic 148-tweet Twitter thread, this comedy-drama follows a Detroit waitress named Zola, played by newcomer Taylour Paige, as she joins sex-worker Stefani, played by Riley Keough, on a two-day road trip that can only be described as “kind of long, but full of suspense.” This film is directed by Janicza Bravo and is distributed by A24, who are no strangers to making outrageously fun stories come to life.
- Respect ( August 13th) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKLyXSgPVOg
Can you imagine being hand-selected by a legendary artist to play them in a movie? Well, Jennifer Hudson can. Respect is a biological-drama based on the life of Aretha Franklin, who was heavily involved in the production of the film until her death in 2018. Franklin wanted Hudson to play this role, and based on the trailer alone, she is already embodying the role of Franklin. With Tony-nominated Lisel Tommy set to direct, the awaited biopic is sure to capture the essence and soul of the late artist.
- Candyman (TBA) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TSMulpd3Bc
It’s been almost a year since we heard the haunting, remixed version of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” accompany the trailer for this Candyman sequel. This horror-thriller has taken numerous hits while trying to complete production during the pandemic and has pushed back its release several times. However, the excitement to see how directors Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele refresh this 1992 horror classic is keeping people interested and ready for its eventual release. The film stars Watchmen’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, and Vanessa Estelle Williams, who is reprising her role as Anne-Marie McCoy.