The best upcoming shows and films in 2021

Loved The Queen’s Gambit? Couldn’t get enough of The Morning Show? Australia’s streaming services really delivered in 2020 — and there’ll be even more to love in 2021.

Thanks to worldwide lockdowns, streaming services had a big year in 2020. Will they be able to keep audiences glued to the screen in 2021? Only time will tell. 

But here’s a guide to what you might like to watch on four of Australia’s major streaming platforms this year*.

Remember, if you’ve invested in a high-def home theatre setup for that living room cinema experience, make sure it’s covered with reliable Home and Contents Insurance. Whether you’re an owner-occupier, a renter, or living in a retirement village or assisted living facility, Apia has options to suit you. 

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Amazon Prime Video


Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star in the musical Annette, the first English-language film for French director Leos Carax. Benedict Cumberbatch plays English artist Louis Wain in an eponymous biopic, with support from Claire Foy. And there’s much hype around Coming 2 America, the sequel to Eddie Murphy’s huge 1988 hit of (almost) the same name.


Slated for release in 2021 are The Lord of the Rings, a hugely ambitious take on Tolkien’s novels, set before the famous movie trilogy (and rumoured to be the most expensive television series ever made); The Wheel of Time, a fantasy series based on the books by Robert Jordan; and an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, directed by Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins. Returning in 2021 are The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and American Gods. 

Apple TV+


Apple TV+ is intent on expanding its film offerings, and 2021 will see some great debuts, including Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, about the investigation of a murder of Osage tribe members in the 1920s, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Also slated for release are Snow Blind, starring Jake Gyllenhaal; Palmer, with Justin Timberlake as a washed-up football star; and the crime drama Cherry, directed by the Russo brothers with Tom Holland in the lead.


The biggest splash will no doubt be made by Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov’s renowned series of books, and starring the gravel-voiced Jared Harris. Apple is a little tight-lipped about exact release dates, but rumoured to be screening this year are Lisey’s Story, Stephen King’s adaptation of his own novel, starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen; Severance, starring Patricia Arquette and directed by Ben Stiller; and The Shining Girls, a metaphysical thriller with Elisabeth Moss. Renewed for 2021 are Dickinson, For All Mankind, The Morning Show and Servant.



Where to start? Maybe with Don’t Look Up, the story of two astronomers trying to warn the world about an impending meteor strike, directed by Adam McKay (Step Brothers), with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett. Then there’s Guillermo del Toro’s animated Pinocchio, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, with Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2024) as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.


New for 2021 include Halston, with Ewan McGregor as the famed American designer; Firefly Lane, based on the best-selling novel by Kristin Hannah and starring Katherine Heigl; and Lupin, with Omar Sy (Untouchable) as the fictional French gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. Some big favourites return: Black Mirror, Grace and Frankie, Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Ratched and Space Force. 



Stan is ramping up its original programming, announcing it plans to produce some 30 films and series annually over the next five years. Leading the charge is Gold, a taut thriller about two drifters who discover gold, with actor-turned-director Anthony Hayes at the helm and Zac Efron starring. (Yes, that Zac Efron.) And NITRAM, which explores the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre (the title is killer Martin Bryant’s first name spelt backwards), directed by Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) and starring American actor Caleb Landry Jones.


Two Stan originals dominate the schedule for 2021 - Eden and Bump. The first is an eight-parter set in the Byron Bay/Northern Rivers region of NSW, created by the team behind Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and directed by John Curran (Tracks, Chappaquiddick). The 10-part series Bump tells the story of a high-school student who falls pregnant; Claudia Karvan stars and produced. It premiered on New Year’s Day. Returning this year are High Town and Search Party.

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All programming is scheduled to change.

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This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.