11 Things Our Critics Are Looking Forward to in 2021


As a new year begins, our reviewers highlight the television, movies, music, art, and streaming dance and theater that await them before summer.

Jason Zinoman

Sure, the new Netflix series “History of swear wordsIn the premiere on January 5th, comics like Sarah Silverman, Joel Kim Booster and Nikki Glaser can be seen, who work as talking heads and break down the meaning, effect and poetry of six important bad words, the majority of which cannot be published here. One exception is “Damn” which, as you can learn from this show, used to be much more taboo than it is today. And there are also some very clever academics who will explain such a story, some of whom are tainted with some questionable legends. Etymology can be really exciting. But let’s face it: the main reason to look forward to this show is the prospect of its host, Nicolas Cage, hammy screaming curses over and over again. I’ve seen the screeners and it is as expected.

Jon Pareles

How does a songwriter hold onto an honest vulnerability as her audience grows? It is a question Julien Baker started wrestling when she released her first solo album, “Sprained Ankle”. She sang about trauma, addiction, self-doubt, self-invention and the pursuit of belief, with subtle passion in naked arrangements. And she quickly found listeners who held on to every word. With her second album “Turn Out the Lights” and her songs together in the Boygenius group (with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus), she used better studios and relied on richer sounds, but projected intimacy. Your third album “Little oblivions, ”Is due February 26th. With this she scales her music to larger rooms, supported by a full rock band with ringing guitars and powerful drums. But she doesn’t hide behind them; She’s still ruthless and ruthless, especially around herself.

When I heard that the Scarlet Witch, also known as Wanda Maximoff, was joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was thrilled. Sometimes known as the daughter of Magneto (yes, we have an X-Men crossover here), the powerful mutant had the ability to change reality. So imagine my disappointment when Wanda hunched over and shot red explosions from her hands, but not much else. Wanda, they got you wrong.

But I am not only enthusiastic about “WandaVisionShe finally blamed this heroine for her fault. The new series that plays the main role Elizabeth Olsen and arrives on Disney + on January 15th, grants the Scarlet Witch her own universe to manipulate and uses it to play with a fresh tone and new aesthetic for the MCU. Unconventional and moody and a perversion of the classic sitcom series, “WandaVision” seems to give its superhero the space to unfold and unravel in a way that she couldn’t in the overcrowded “Avengers” films. Olsen seems up to the task, and Kathryn Hahn, Paul Bettany, and Randall Park are also there to provide additional comedy and pathos.

Jason Farago

This mid-career retrospective of Julie more and its great, lavish abstractions made a big hit when it opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last year and, belatedly, in the artist’s hometown of March 25th Whitney Museum of American Art. 20 years ago, Mehretu became known for his dense wall-scale paintings, whose curved lines suggested flight paths or architectural representations. Later she turned to a freer, more fluid marking that places abstract painting in the areas of migration and war, capital and climate.

Her latest work, created during the initial lockdown and seen in a thunderous show at the Marian Goodman Gallery, is less readable, more digital and more confident than ever. One must concentrate fully to fully appreciate its jostling layers of screen-printed grids, sprayed veils, and calligraphic strokes of black and red. Come early, take a good look.

Jesse Green

Enough with “The Crown”. Television may have cornered the market with stories about the nobility, but it was theater that traditionally got into heads of state and tried to understand what they were thinking.

This tradition will be updated in February when the Steppenwolf Theater presents “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” – a filmed piece by Vivian JO Barnes, directed by Great Mengesha. Inspired and / or appalled by the experiences of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, Barnes envisions a dialogue in which a black duchess helps adjust a future black duchess to her new position. Together they explore what it means to join an institution that pretends to feel honored to be admitted even if it eats them alive.

That the institution in question is not only about kings but also about racism when the two are different adds to the story. How black women negotiate power and at what price in traditionally white arenas is something that resonates well beyond Balmoral.

Mike Hale

The title character of the Syfy series “Resident alien, “The premiere on January 27th does not have a green card, but it does have green skin or at least a green-purple exoskeleton. He was sent to earth to exterminate us. There is a delay and in the meantime he has to pretend to be a small town doctor in Colorado and learn with the greatest awkwardness how to act like a human. This snowy scary monster comedy won’t make a top 10 lists, but it looks like a scream and is tailor-made for the eccentric comic book talents of Alan Tudyk (“Doom Patrol”, “Arrested Development”), who doesn’t feel comfortable in any skin he is in.

On December 4, 1969, 14 Chicago police officers raided an apartment owned by members of the Black Panther Party with a search warrant for weapons and explosives. When they left, party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were dead. Congressman Bobby Rush, then the party’s deputy minister, testified that 21-year-old Hampton was sleeping in his bed when police shot him, one version of what happened who were investigated in The Murder of Fred Hampton, a 1971 documentary. Now there is a feature film about the robbery. “Judas and the black messiah“Tells the story of Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) and William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), an FBI informant who was part of Hampton’s security team and reunites the two stars of Get Out. Shaka King’s (” Newlyweeds ”) Is expected to be released in early 2021.

Margaret Lyons

David makes people“Is one of the finest dramas in recent years, and its structural daring added new facets to the coming-of-age genre. David (Take care of McDowell) was in middle school for season 1, but for the upcoming second season (currently slated for early summer at OWN) he’s in his thirties and facing challenges for adults. That kind of time jump – and creative jump – would be fascinating on its own, but the way the show captured the warlike thoughts in adolescent psychology makes me even more excited to see how it portrays the turbulence of maturity.

Gia Kourlas

Since the beginning of the pandemic, robust digital programming has been at the Martha Graham Dance Company distinguished himself with his multifaceted approach to researching the works of his groundbreaking modern choreographer. It helps, of course, to have Graham’s works excavated at all. (And access to a healthy archive.)

Since most dance companies continue to keep their distance from the stage, the Graham Group – now in its 95th season – opens the year with thematically arranged digital programs. The main focus in January is on nature and the elements, both in Graham’s dances and in more recent works. How is the natural world used metaphorically?

On January 9, “Martha Matinee,” hosted by Artistic Director Janet Eilber, will view Graham’s mysterious, ritual “Dark Meadow” (1946) with vintage footage by Graham himself along with the company’s latest “Dark Meadow Suite”. And on January 19th, the company unveiled New @ Graham with a closer look at Canticle for Innocent Comedians (1952), Graham’s unabashed festival of nature, with an emphasis on the moon and stars.

Jason Farago

In this market it is better if you sublet! If the Frick Collection Eventually it received approval to renovate and expand its mansion on Fifth Avenue. It started looking for temporary digs – and had a happy hiatus when the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it would vacate the rental of Marcel Breuer’s brutalist citadel three years early. Henry Clay Frick’s will blocks credits from the core collection, according to Frick’s modernist pop-up Frick Madisonbecomes the first and probably only new setting for Bellini’s mysterious “St. Francis in the Desert ”, Rembrandt’s lively“ Polish Rider ”or Holbein’s duel portraits by Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More (a must for fans of“ Wolf Hall ”).

However, modern architecture is only part of the customization; The Frick is a house museum, and the Breuer subletting offers curators the unique opportunity to browse and restore the collection outside of a living space. The real UFOs at Frick Madison expected in the first quarter of 2021 could therefore be the decorative arts: all those gold-plated clocks, all that Meissen porcelain that has been relocated from plutocratic salons to concrete cubes.

Lindsay Zoladz

Few new years have come with such high expectations as 2021. To avoid disappointment, let’s calibrate our hopes: I know that New Zealand pop poet Lorde promised in 2021 to bring out at least a book of photos from her last trip to Antarctica. Titled “Go south” it marks the writing through Lorde (who describes her trip as “that great white pallet cleaner, kind of heavenly foyer that I had to walk through to do the next one”) and photos of Harriet wereThe net proceeds from the sale will go to a scholarship fund for climate research. Cool. I love it. My real aim of anticipation is of course Lorde’s third album, the long awaited sequel to their spectacularly intimate 2017 release, “Melodrama”, but after a year like 2020 I won’t rush it. You know what? I am. Lorde, Ella, Ms. Yelich-O’Connor: Please release your epic concept album on glaciers and spiritual rebirth at the South Pole in 2021. After a year in the Antarctic climate of the soul, which was 2020, we all deserve this.