- The Gilded Age
I’m generally not a fan of costume dramas; they tend to be too stuffy for my taste. But with Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Downton Abbey) at the helm, The Gilded Age should offset any potential stuffiness with a heavy dose of razor-sharp humor. The stellar cast of this HBO series, which premieres on January 24, includes heavy-hitters like Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Donna Murphy, Audra McDonald and Carrie Coon (a personal favorite of mine). SOLD.
- Russian Doll Season Two
It’s been nearly three full years since Russian Doll debuted on Netflix. The response was rapturous; the series holds a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for thirteen Emmy awards. Russian Doll put an inventive spin on the time loop trope, with just enough genuine pathos to balance out the absurdity. And it was all anchored by an astonishing performance from co-creator Natasha Lyonne. Russian Doll was almost immediately renewed but filming was delayed due to the pandemic. Details are few at this time, but we do know that Schitt’s Creek‘s Annie Murphy and District 9‘s Sharlto Copley will join the cast in undisclosed roles.
Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet) has a flair for the visually dramatic, so don’t expect this to be a standard musical biopic. Former Disney Channel star Austin Butler (pictured below right) whose most recent film role was Manson family member Tex Watson in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, will play The King. But the movie’s big draw will be Tom Hanks as Col. Tom Parker. Elvis will open in theaters on June 24 and be available for streaming on HBO Max forty-five days later.
- Shining Vale
Shining Vale, scheduled to premiere on Starz on March 6, is a horror-comedy co-created by Jeff Astrof and Catastrophe‘s Sharon Hogan. Courteney Cox, who has experience in both comedy AND horror, stars as Pat Phelps, a writer who moves her dysfunctional family out of the city and into a possibly haunted small-town house. Pat is hoping the change of scenery will provide inspiration for her writing and we all know how well that usually turns out for horror characters. The fabulous supporting cast includes Greg Kinnear, Mira Sorvino, Merrin Dungey, Sherilyn Fenn and Judith Light.
Pixar’s upcoming animated feature will explore the fictional origin story of Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger who inspires the action figure in the Toy Story films. Chris Evans will provide the voice of our hero; Taiki Waititi will also appear. Lightyear is scheduled to open on June 17 and will presumably be available on Disney+ later in the year.
Science fiction-horror hybrid From will premiere on Epix on February 20. Harold Perrineau, Eion Bailey and Catalina Sandino Moreno will star as travelers who find themselves trapped in a Lovecraftian town with some terrifying nocturnal creatures. From features a Lost reunion between Perrineau and director Jack Bender, while the Russo brothers serve as executive producers.
- The First Lady
Showtime’s The First Lady is an anthology drama series centered on the better halves of the Oval Office occupants. The series will star Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. The supporting cast includes Aaron Eckhart, Dakota Fanning, Kiefer Sutherland, Judy Greer and Lily Rabe.
The long-awaited sequel to Enchanted will finally arrive on Disney+ this year. Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden and Idina Menzel, reprising their roles from the original film, will be joined by Yvette Nicole Brown, Maya Rudolph, Jayma Mays and Oscar Nunez. Adam Shankman will direct and Alan Menken, who earned three Oscar nods for Enchanted, will compose the score. I adore Enchanted, and I also love the idea of exploring what happens after the “happily ever after”. If you’ve never seen Enchanted, stream it on Disney+ now.
- The Old Man
The Old Man, based on Thomas Perry’s 2017 novel, will star Jeff Bridges as the titular character, an off-the-grid former intelligence officer who is thrust back into his former life when he is targeted for assassination. The outstanding supporting cast includes John Lithgow, Amy Brenneman and Alia Shawkat. Co-creator Jonathan E. Steinberg is best known for the beloved 2006 series Jericho, so expectations will likely be high for this thriller. The Old Man will stream on FX/Hulu sometime this year.