Throughout the continuous stress dream that was 2020, pop culture gave us something to bond over besides the harsh realities of the pandemic year.
When COVID-19 put a halt to in-person crowds at concerts, plays and blockbuster movies, the at-home shared experience became indispensable. We may have gathered separately in front of small screens, but it felt like a collective event when we traded reactions to “The Last Dance” and “The Queen’s Gambit” on social media.
So now that we’ve reached 2021, what happens next? Essentially, more of the same until vaccines reach everyone.
The good news is that a fresh wave of movies, TV, books, music and virtual cultural happenings is on the way. Here are 10 things in store on our journey toward better days.
Postponed blockbusters arrive
Ever since mid-March, release dates for new movies have been tentative. So let’s tentatively celebrate the fact that most of the biggest films of 2020 are tentatively set to open in the next 12 months — unless more delays are necessary because of the virus. Among the must-sees: “Coming 2 America” (March 5 on Amazon Prime Video), the James Bond flick “No Time To Die” (April 2,), “A Quiet Place Part II” (April 23), “Black Widow” (May 7) and “Dune” (Oct. 1). They sound tentative-riffic!
‘WandaVision’ blows our mindsIt’s Marvel’s universe and the rest of us just consume its content. As the comics empire floods the zone with new shows this year, the best surprise of all could be this series debuting Jan. 15 on Disney+. It revolves around Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Vision (Paul Bettany) and, somehow, the world of classic sitcoms. Ever since photos revealed Wanda and Vision in period clothing on a set resembling “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” we’ve been tripping over our footstools with anticipation.
The Oscars could achieve meaningful inclusivityAlthough theaters took a devastating financial hit and studios only recently resumed filming under COVID-19 protocols, 2020 was blessed with a number of remarkable films that are front-runners for 2021’s awards season. Regina King (“One Night in Miami”) and Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”) could become the first women of color to be nominated for a best director Oscar. Leading contenders in the acting categories include Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Delroy Lindo (“Da Five Bloods”), Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) and metro Detroit’s own Steven Yeun (“Minari”). But the high point of the April 25 ceremony might be a posthumous Oscar win for Chadwick Boseman for his final film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
‘Friends’ reunion is on again
The unscripted special originally planned for last year was postponed by HBO Max because of the coronavirus. But then Matthew Perry —who played Chanandler Bong on the NBC sitcom, according to his character’s TV Guide subscription —tweeted a couple of months ago that filming would happen in March. They were on a break! Could we be any more grateful? Well, maybe if Rachel baked her custard, jam and meat trifle dessert again. If you don’t get any of these references, never mind.
Mayim Bialik is back
After her unforgettable run as geek goddess Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” the former teen star of “Blossom” left no doubt that she should always have a TV show. Fox agrees and is putting Bialik in “Call Me Kat,” a comedy that premiered Sunday about a woman who leaves her job as a professor to run a cat café.
The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics
The 2020 games had to be rescheduled to July 23 through Aug. 8. Can we keep our fingers crossed for nearly seven months that they’ll actually happen?
A.I. gets literary
Among the year’s most eagerly awaited novels is “Klara and the Sun” by 2017 Nobel Prize winner for literature Kazuo Ishiguro, who also wrote “Never Let Me Go” and “The Remains of the Day.” Klara is described as an “Artificial Friend” who is waiting inside a store for someone to purchase her. You can read all about it in March.
Journalism gets the Wes Anderson treatment
Having set his movies inside a private school (“Rushmore”), a ship and submarine (“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”) and a colony of desperate canines (“The Isle of Dogs”), the magnificently quirky director moves to another quaint locale. “The French Dispatch” is set in a fictional city in France and involves journalists at a highbrow magazine that would have gone out of business decades ago. Starring Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman and newcomers like Tilda Swinton and Timothee Chalamet, it might make print seem cool again.
With Broadway closed indefinitely, the most promising musical theater on the horizon (besides upcoming film versions of “West Side Story” and “In the Heights”) seems to be an untitled series from AppleTV+ that is expected to arrive in 2021. “Schmigadoon”features Cecily Strong, aka Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on “Saturday Night Live,” and Keegan-Michael Key, who hails from Detroit, as a couple on vacation who are somehow transported(in a nod to the 1947 Lerner and Lowe classic “Brigadoon”) to a place where life seems like a vintage musical. Strong and Key are joined by a powerhouse supporting team that includes Tony winners Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth.
Adele could drop her new album
Five years after “25” had us singing “Hello” in the shower, we’re still holding our breath for Adele’s next album. Rumors of its debut have come and gone, and even the ballad queen’s “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig in October failed to bring any updates. This puts the pressure on 2021 to deliver something, anything from the British ballad singer. After all, we must have called (for another record) a thousand times.