Blockbuster films ranging from superhero to sci-fi films are huge hits with moviegoers. Even with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the official release dates of these films, they are still pushing for viewership via online streaming services such as Netflix or HBO GO, some in theatres. However, there are also a variety of other niche movies that serve as a reenactment of past events or stories that movie buffs should check out!
Watching movies based on real-life offers stories that are hardly tackled in blockbuster films and offer realistic perspectives of social issues revolving around the world. Moreover, they offer a more cinematographic approach that will have audiences grabbing some popcorn for an even more exciting and enthralling experience of these real-life based films. Therefore, we provide you a list of ten upcoming films based on real-life scenarios in 2021.
1. “Penguin Bloom”
- Release Date: 27th January 2021
- Movie Cast: Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln, and Jacki Weaver
From the best-selling book of the same name, “Penguin Bloom” showcases the story of Sam Bloom (played by Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts). She is a young mother whose life turned for the worse after facing a near-death accident that leaves her paralysed. Her husband (played by Andrew Lincoln), alongside her three sons and mother (played by Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver), are facing hardships adjusting to their new situation. That is when an unlikely ally enters their universe in the form of a wounded baby magpie they name Penguin. Ever since the arrival of the Penguin within the Bloom family, there is a profound difference within Sam’s life, giving her the will to learn how to adapt to life again.
2. “The Little Things”
- Release Date: 28th January 2021
- Movie Cast: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, and Natalie Morales
“The Little Things” is a psychological neo-noir thriller inspired by true events. The film follows Joe “Deke” Deacon (played by Denzel Washington), a deputy sheriff of Kern County who is sent to Los Angeles for quick gathering of evidence. He is met with misfortune as he becomes involved in the hunt for a killer who is currently terrorising the city. Jim Baxter is a sergeant of the L.A. Sheriff Department and is leading the search. Enamoured with Deke’s cop-like instincts, Jim unofficially assists him. However, when tracking the killer, Jim is unaware that the investigation is digging up Deke’s past, revealing haunting secrets that may be more threatening than his current case.
3. “The Dig”
- Release Date: 29th January 2021
- Movie Cast: Carey Muligan, Ralph Fienes, and Lily James
Based on a book written by John Prestoni in 2007, “The Dig” takes place in the setting of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial excavation at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England in 1939. Edith Pretty and Basil Brown (both played by Oscar nominees Carey Muligan and Ralph Fienes respectively), the former being a rich widow and the latter being an archaeologist both discover something astonishing that has resonation of the past and the fate of Britain’s uncertain future.
- Release Date: 5th February 2021 (USA)
- Movie Cast: Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Minami Hinase
“Minamata” stars Johnny Depp as war photographer W. Eugene Smith. He journeys back to Japan to document the damaging effect of mercury poisoning that resulted in horrible disfigurements in the coastal communities of the country. The movie is a heartfelt yet old-fashioned depiction of how communities can take a stand against corrupted corporations. Moreover, it showcases how journalists who dedicate themselves to trustworthy news can help people overcome these corporations.
5. “Judas and the Black Messiah”
- Release Date: 12th February 2021 (USA)
- Movie Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominque Fishback, and Martin Sheen
A biographical film based on Fred Hampton’s life as a chairman of the Black Panther Party during the late 1960s in Illinois, “Judas and the Black Messiah” stars Daniel Kaluuya who plays Fred Hampton. William O’Neal (played by Lakeith Stanfield) is an FBI informant who is partaking in the infiltration of the Illinois Black Panther Party. Furthermore, he is assigned in keeping track of their ruler, Chairman Fred Hampton. Additionally, O’Neal is also a career thief revelling in the risk of manipulating both his allies and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (played by Jesse Plemons). The question for O’Neal to ponder or decide; will he join with the good forces or will he subdue Hampton alongside The Panthers by any form of action, just as the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (played by Martin Sheen) commands.
6. “Joe Bell”
- Release Date: February 19th 2021 (USA)
- Movie Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Reid Miller, Connie Britton, Maxwell Jenkins, and Gary Senise
“Joe Bell” is based on a real-life story of the titular character (played by Mark Wahlberg) who commenced a cross-country walk. By doing this, Joe is hoping to raise awareness of bullying concerning the fate of his son Jadin Bell (played by newbie actor Reid Miller) in 2013. During his journey, Joe must settle aside his own prejudices and conflicted relationship with Jadin. Plus, as stated by Wahlberg himself, this story plays significance to the actor as a father, knowing how fatherhood can make a man change.
7. “The Mauritanian”
- Release Date: February 19th 2021 (USA)
- Movie Cast: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley, and Zachary Levi.
Originally titled “Prisoner 760”, the movie changed its name to “The Mauritanian”. The movie is based on the real-life story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (played by Tahar Rahim). Slahi is captured by the American government and put into prison without any charge or trial. When all hope is lost, Slahi comes across comrades such as defence attorney Nancy Hollander (played by Jodie Foster) and Teri Duncan (played by Shailene Woodley) who is Hollander’s associate. Other than that, “The Mauritanian” presents countless obstacles faced by them in a desperate attempt to seek justice. Also, the film presents military prosecutor Lt. Stuart Couch (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) who uncovers evidence that unmasks a shocking conspiracy.
- Release Date: February 21st 2021 (USA)
- Movie Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, and Bob Wells.
“Nomadland” is based on the book titled “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” in 2017. Frances McDormand stars in the movie Fern, a woman in her sixties who leaves her hometown to embark on a journey around the American West in her van. Fern never had it easy, as she has lost everything in the Great Recession and seeks hope and hospitality of modern-day nomads in the USA.
In addition, the movie actually cast real-life nomads such as Linda May, Charlene Swankie, and Bob Wells and the depiction of their lives as nomads can be seen unfold within the movie itself.
- Release Date: 26th February 2021
- Movie Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, and Jack Reynor
“Cherry” is based on a 2018 novel written by Nico Walker. This novel was written on a typewriter and Walker was a convicted bank robber when he was staying in a Kentucky federal prison. It centres around Walker’s (played by Tom Holland) own life and how after coming back from Iraq as a war veteran, he suffered from major undiagnosed PTSD.
This leads Walker to a fierce opioid addiction and started robbing banks. The writer’s tale isn’t an ordinary story, rather, it is something unique. This is why the Russo brothers who are directors for the movie version were so keen on making this story come to life on-screen.
9. “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”
- Release Date: 3rd June 2021
- Movie Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, and Charlene Amoia
Different from the standard biographical drama films, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” is based on real-life supernatural events that will send chills up your spine. Marking the first time in American history, a murder suspect is using demonic possession as a claim of defence. Now it is up to paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively) to attempt and unmask the truth behind the claim of the murderer. “The Devil Made Me Do It” case will make its appearance as the best source material the franchise has to offer for the “The Conjuring” series. Plus, Malaysians may have high expectations for this movie as Sarawakian born James Wan is producing this film.
- Release Date: 2nd September 2021 (delayed date)
- Movie Cast: Jeniffer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blidge, and Heather Headley.
Jennifer Hudson stars as singer Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biography drama film that is based on the singer’s life. “Respect” narrates Franklin’s life from being a gospel singer in the church to becoming a very well-known iconic figure within the music industry. Franklin, unfortunately, passed away on 16th August 2018, setting an emotional tone for viewers who mourn the death of the singer.
11. “King Richard”
- Release Date: 19th November 2021
- Movie Cast: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, and Jon Berthal
Will Smith plays Richard Williams in the upcoming film “King Richard”, which tells about the famous tennis father who had an amazing influence on his daughters Serena Williams (played by Aunjanue Ellis) and Venus Williams (played by Saniyya Sidney), both of whom became championship winners.
The movie is a look at the way Richard’s daughters became who they are after his coaching. Williams’ story is remarkable, as he has no tennis background and suffered from big hardships. Despite that, he raised his daughters to become some of the greatest tennis players of all time by training at poorly cared public tennis courts.
- Release Date: 2021
- Movie Cast: Anas de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Julianne Nicholson, and Caspar Phillipson
“Blonde” is a movie based on the 2000 novel of the same title written by Joyce Carol Oates. The story features a fictional biography of the life of Marilyn Monroe (played by Anas de Armas) and her struggles experienced over the years before meeting her fate. It’s basically a made-up look at the actress’s life. The author already deemed this movie “brilliant”, which gives a promising outlook to this movie’s future success.
13. “Bombay Rose”
- Release Date: 2021 (Netflix)
- Movie Cast: Cyli Khare, Amit Deondi, Anurag Kashyap, Makrand Deshpande, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma, Virendra Saxena, and Amardeep Jha
“Bombay Rose” is an animated film based on true events and the story chronicles the struggles of Mumbai migrants who all came from small towns. The story also showcases the importance of Bollywood film fantasies to take their focus off residing in the dangerous, crowded city.
“Bombay Rose” was painted frame-by-frame by Paperboat Animation Studios which is situated in Mumbai. The studio makes the movie more aesthetically pleasing and dares to present topical themes such as inter-faith romance, child labour, and economic migration.
14. “The Power of the Dog”
- Release Date: 2021
- Movie Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Frances Conroy
“The Power of the Dog” is based on a book written by Thomas Savage in 1967 and tells the story of two rich brothers Phil (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (played by Jesse Plemons). Phil is known to be smart and strict, while George is meticulous and gentle. Together, they are joint owners of the largest ranch in their Montana valley. But when George is secretly married to local widow Rose (played by Kirsten Dunst), Phil becomes enraged and starts a relentless war to be rid of her by using her son Peter (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) as a pawn.
Hopefully, these movies will keep moviegoers entertained during 2021.