Your movie guide for the 2021 holiday season
Nov 1, 2021, 10:46 AM | Updated: Nov 16, 2021, 9:11 am
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s time for the Holiday Season Movie Preview! Very few big movies came to theaters in 2020, which created a backlog of new content that Hollywood has been pressing to release throughout 2021, and they’ve saved a lot for the last two months.
Before 2021 wraps up, we’ll get two Marvel Cinematic Universe entries (Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home), new chapters in the Ghostbusters and Matrix franchises, a remake of one of the most beloved musicals of all time, an animated Disney film, lots of Christmas-themed movies, lots of content from Netflix, and the typical end-of-year prestige films hoping for awards consideration.
Here is a list of most of the big movies coming to theaters and/or streaming in the months of November and December 2021.
(NOTE: This list will be updated as movies are added to the schedule or release dates are changed by the studios)
The Harder They Fall (Netflix)
In this Western, outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his enemy, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), is being released from prison, so he reunites his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge.
Finch (Apple TV Plus)
A man (Tom Hanks) is one of the few survivors of a cataclysmic solar event that has left the world a wasteland. He, his dog and a robot form an unlikely family in a powerful and moving adventure of one man’s quest to ensure that his beloved canine companion will be cared for after he’s gone.
Love Hard (Netflix)
An L.A. girl (Nina Dobrev), unlucky in love, falls for an East Coast guy on a dating app and decides to surprise him for the holidays, only to discover that she’s been catfished.
Marvel’s The Eternals (Theaters)
Marvel Studios’ Eternals features a new team of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants.
An imagining of what might have happened during Christmas festivities of the British Royal Family around the time Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) decided to end her marriage to Prince Charles. Directed by Pablo Larrain and stars Kristen Stewart as Diana Spencer.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Amazon Prime)
The true story of eccentric British artist Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose playful, sometimes even psychedelic pictures helped to transform the public’s perception of cats forever. Also stars Claire Foy as his wife, Emily.
Clifford The Big Red Dog (Theaters/Paramount+)
Live-action adaptation of the classic children’s books. When middle-schooler Emily meets a magical animal rescuer (John Cleese) who gifts her a little, red puppy, she never anticipated waking up to find a giant ten-foot hound in her small New York City apartment. While her single mom is away for business, Emily, her uncle and Clifford set out on an adventure in the Big Apple.
A nine-year-old boy in Belfast, Ireland must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life is changed forever but joy, laughter, music and the formative magic of the movies remain. Written/directed by Kenneth Branagh, and stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, and introduces the 10-year old Jude Hill.
Home Sweet Home Alone (Disney Plus)
Reboot/sequel to the classic holiday film franchise. Max Mercer (Archie Yates) is a mischievous and resourceful young boy who has been left behind while his family is in Japan for the holidays. So when a married couple (Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney) attempting to retrieve a priceless heirloom set their sights on the Mercer family’s home, it is up to Max to protect it from the trespassers.
Red Notice (Netflix)
Action-comedy about an Interpol agent (Dwayne Johnson) who needs help from the world’s second-most wanted art thief (Ryan Reynolds) to track the world’s most wanted one (Gal Gadot).
Psych 3: This Is Gus (Peacock)
The latest adventure of one of television’s most beloved comedic crime-solving duos. In preparation for Gus’ shotgun wedding before the birth of his baby, Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez) and Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill) go rogue in an attempt to track down Selene’s estranged husband, as Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) grapples with the future of his career. Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson and Corbin Bernsen also return.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (Netflix)
When a priceless relic is stolen, Queen Margaret (Vanessa Hudgens) and Princess Stacy (also Hudgens) enlist the help of Margaret’s audacious look-alike cousin Fiona (Hudgens, yet again) who teams with a dashing, mysterious man from her past to retrieve it… rekindling the sparks of a tantalizing Christmas romance and resulting in a very unexpected switch. Is there still another Hudgens who has yet to be revealed in this cinematic world? Only time will tell.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Theaters)
From director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe. In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. Stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Annie Potts and Paul Rudd (with rumored appearances from OG’s Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Ernie Hudson).
King Richard (Theaters/HBO Max)
Will Smith stars as Richard Williams, father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, and his determination to write his daughters into history. Aunjanue Ellis plays the girls’ mom Oracene “Brandy” Williams, with Saniyya Sidney as Venus and Demi Singleton as Serena.
tick, tick…BOOM! (Netflix)
Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature directorial debut with tick, tick…BOOM!, an adaptation of the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, who revolutionized theater as the creator of the Tony Award-winning musical “Rent”. Stars Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Bradley Whitford, Judith Light, and Vanessa Hudgens. The film is written by Tony Award winner Steven Levenson, and produced by Academy Award winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
Zeros and Ones (Theaters/VOD)
Ethan Hawke (Training Day) stars in this gritty, tense political thriller set on one deadly night in Rome. Called to the city to stop an imminent terrorist bombing at the Vatican, soldier J.J. (Hawke) desperately seeks news of his imprisoned rebel brother, Justin (also Hawke), who holds knowledge that could thwart the attack.
Candy Coated Christmas (Discovery+)
Stars Molly McCook (Last Man Standing) as a Beverly Hills marketing executive whose carefully planned life takes an unexpected turn when she takes a business trip to the picturesque town of Peppermint Hollow, Washington. Her plan is to sell her mother’s house and get out of the cold to sunny Hawaii by Christmas, but then she meets the current renters, who warmly welcome her into their home, sharing their holiday traditions with her. Also features Ree Drummond (Food Network’s The Pioneer Woman) in her first acting role.
A Boy Called Christmas (Netflix)
In this origin story of Father Christmas, an ordinary boy (with a loyal pet mouse and a reindeer at his side) sets out on an extraordinary adventure to find his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of Elfhelm.
In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto,” Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz)—the only ordinary member of her extraordinary family—discovers that the magic surrounding their home is in danger, and she might be her family’s last hope. Featuring original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
House of Gucci (Theaters)
Inspired by the shocking true story of the family empire behind the Italian fashion house of Gucci. Spanning three decades of love, betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately murder, we see what a name means, what it’s worth, and how far a family will go for control. Directed by Ridley Scott and stars Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Camille Cottin, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Lady Gaga, and Salma Hayek.
Robin Robin (Netflix)
Animated short about a bird named Robin who is raised by a loving family of mice after her egg rolls into the garbage bin. As she grows up, her differences from the rest of her family become more apparent, so Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove that she can be a really good mouse.
The Beatles: Get Back (Disney Plus)
Music documentary from director Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”), tells the story of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr back in 1969 as they plan their first live show in over two years in 1969. The documentary is compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, and features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row.
A Castle For Christmas (Netflix)
Famed author, Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields), travels to Scotland hoping to buy a small castle of her own, but the prickly owner, Duke Myles (Cary Elwes), is reluctant to sell to a foreigner. Working to find a compromise, the pair constantly butt heads, but they just may find something more than they were expecting.
The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother (Jesse Plemons) brings home a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Disney Plus)
The first book in Jeff Kinney’s worldwide bestselling series is turned into an animated movie for the first time. Greg Heffley is a scrawny but ambitious kid with an active imagination and big plans to be rich and famous – he just has to survive middle school first. As details of his hilarious – and often disastrous – attempts to fit in fill the pages of his journal, Greg learns to appreciate true friends and standing up for what is right.
Encounter (Amazon Prime)
Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas (Netflix)
Stop-motion animated special see Shaun’s seasonal excitement turn to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. Can Shaun get Timmy back before he becomes someone else’s present?
The Housewives of the North Pole (Peacock)
The Christmas Queens of North Pole, Vermont, Trish (Kyle Richards) and Diana (Betsy Brandt), have won the Best Holiday House decorating competition every year for the past nine years. But days before Christmas, a friendship-ending argument sparks a town-wide feud and draws the attention of a national magazine writer hoping to make a name for herself with her scintillating expose.
Being the Ricardos (Theaters/Amazon Prime)
Nicole Kidman takes on the role of Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem plays Desi Arnaz in award-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama. The movie explores the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, and takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom “I Love Lucy.” Opens in limited theaters on Dec. 10th, then streams everywhere on Amazon Prime starting Dec. 21st.
National Champions (Theaters)
Follows a star quarterback (Stephan James) who ignites a players strike hours before the biggest game of the year in order to fight for fair compensation, equality and respect for the student-athletes who put their bodies and health on the line for their schools. Also stars J. K. Simmons, Timothy Olyphant, Kristin Chenoweth and Lil Rel Howery.
The Unforgivable (Netflix)
Released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past. Facing severe judgment from the place she once called home, her only hope for redemption is finding the estranged younger sister she was forced to leave behind.
West Side Story (Theaters/HBO Max)
Steven Spielberg directs this reimagining of the beloved Broadway musical, from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Tony Kushner. Tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. Stars Ansel Elgort (Tony); Rachel Zegler (María); Ariana DeBose (Anita); David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); Ana Isabelle (Rosalía); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); and Rita Moreno (as new character Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works).
A California Christmas: City Lights (Netflix)
It’s been a year since Callie and Joseph fell in love, and they’re happier than ever running their dairy farm and winery, until business and family obligations call him back to the city — and threaten to derail their romance.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Theaters)
For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, the friendly neighborhood hero is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life from the high-stakes of being a superhero. When he asks for help from Doctor Strange the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.
Swan Song (Theaters/Apple TV Plus)
Set in the near future, Mahershala Ali plays a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief.
Sing 2 (Theaters)
From Illumination, the creators of Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, comes the follow-up to its smash animated film about the transformative power of music. Buster, Meena, Rosita, Gunter, Johnny and Ash are back and this time they’re preparing for a bigger stage and a brighter spotlight as they leave the Moon Theater for the big city. Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon return to lend their voices, alongside Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll and Tori Kelly. (Special theatrical sneak preview Saturday, November 27th)
The King’s Man (Theaters)
A prequel to the Kingsmen movies set in the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal of terrible villains plotting a war to wipe out millions. Stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton and Harris Dickinson.
The Matrix: Resurrections (Theaters/HBO Max)
Director/co-writer Lana Wachowski is keeping the details of the plot to this highly anticipated sequel under wraps, but the trailer for the movie shows an older Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) unable to remember who they are or the role they played in the events of the original Matrix trilogy. Joining the cast for this outing is Yahya Abdul-Mateen in the role of Morpheus, as well as Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, Christina Ricci, Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris in undisclosed roles.
1000 Miles From Christmas (Netflix)
Spanish language comedy that tells the story of Raúl, a 30-something who has suffered all the misfortunes of his life during Christmas time so every year he spends the season on a far-away beach. But this year Raúl must attend a business trip to audit a factory that makes a Christmas treat in a town that lives for and loves Christmas, while sharing accommodations with a woman whose dream is beating the world record of the largest real live nativity scene ever created.
Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
Tells the story of two low-level astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence), who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet earth. In select theaters December 10, on Netflix December 24.
American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story (Theaters)
The amazing true story of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner (played in the film by Zachary Levi). Warner didn’t follow the typical path to stardom, going from stocking shelves at a supermarket to becoming a National Football League MVP and Super Bowl champion, all the while maintaining his Christian faith.
Musical adaptation of the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac. Too self-conscious to woo Roxanne (Haley Bennett) himself, Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) helps young Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) nab her heart through love letters.
Hopefully you & your family found this preview helpful! Andy Farnsworth has a weekly “What To Watch” segment on the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out his in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com.