The best new films and TV shows to stream this summer

Zoe Gunn

5 May 2021

Think you’ve watched all the TV you can handle over the past year? These streaming services are here to convince you otherwise.

5 May 2021 | Zoe Gunn

We’d never recommend you spend a glorious summer day inside watching endless hours of Netflix. Especially not this summer, with its tantalising promise of eased restrictions, reunions and parties. But this is summer in the UK – there will inevitably be days when it’s grey, miserable and that extra glass of champagne you had last night means you can’t possibly face leaving the sofa. Needless to say, however much TV you watched in 2020, the reopening of society doesn’t mean you’re going to suddenly shun your favourite streaming service.

And a good thing too as there’s plenty to keep you entertained this season. From the latest original films from Netflix to gripping BBC dramas and escapist superheat time travelling capers from Disney+, these are the new films and series to stream in summer 2021.

Halston, Netflix


The latest offering from Ryan Murphy’s blockbuster Netflix deal, TV’s golden boy will be hoping to improve on the mediocre reception previous releases Ratched and Hollywood received with Halston. Initial signs are, admittedly, good. The series stars Ewan McGregor, a new addition to Murphy’s rotating roster of favoured actors, in the titular role, alongside Rebecca Dayan as Elsa Peretti and Rory Culkin as Joel Schumacher. Telling the story of the legendary fashion designer as he finds fame, fortune and, eventually, infamy in ‘70s and '80s New York, this one may well be worth watching for the clothes alone.

Release date: May 14, 2021

The Woman in the Window, Netflix


One of the better thrillers to follow in the wake of the success of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window is an adaptation of A. J. Finn’s 2018 novel of the same name. Following agoraphobic child psychologist Anna Fox as she obsessively tracks the actions of the family living across the road – and inadvertently witnesses a brutal crime – this could easily be another run of the mill domestic thriller were it not for the truly stellar cast. Amy Adams stars as Anna, with supporting roles going to Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie and Jennifer Jason Leigh to name just a few.

Release date: May 14, 2021

Cruella, Disney+


This Cruella de Vil origin story is shaping up to be one of the most slick and stylish family-friendly films of the year. Set in 1970s London, it follows young grifter Estella (played by Emma Stone) as she works to carve out a living from her signature monochrome fashion designs, eventually catching the attention of Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). Under the influence of the Baroness, a course of events is unleashed which encourages Estella to embrace her dark side and eventually transform into the Disney villain we all love to hate.

Release date: May 28, 2021

Before We Die, Channel 4


There’s nothing better to console yourself with on a rainy Saturday in July than some gripping Scandi noir but, if subtitles aren’t your thing, we have some good news. Before You Die, a British adaptation of the hit Swedish show of the same name, will be coming to Channel 4 in May and promises all the moral quandary, stark cinematography and ever-present aura of menace that the genre has become known for. The cast is led by Lesley Sharp who plays DI Hannah Laing, a detective forced to make a life changing decision when her son becomes caught up in the activities of local crime family the Mimicas.

Release date: May 2021 (TBC)

Loki, Disney+


Even if you’ve watched all 189 Marvel films, plus the recently released Loki trailers, chances are you’re no the wiser than the rest of us about what to expect from the next TV series in the superhero franchise. What we do know is the Loki in the show will not be the same one from the films (spoiler alert: he died); instead he will be an alternative universe version of the mischievous Norse god – thankfully still played by Tom Hiddleston. Recent trailers also revealed Owen Wilson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw will take major roles while a mismatching logo has fans speculating that time travel and alternate timelines will play a large part in the story. Look out for cameos from other Marvel stars guaranteed to send the fan boys wild.

Release date: June 11, 2021

The Tomorrow War, Amazon Prime


Cinemas may be reopening imminently but, thanks to the difficulty of filming during a global pandemic, insiders are predicting a dearth of summer blockbusters this year. Lucky, then, that Amazon Prime has The Tomorrow War up its sleeve. This big brash all-American sci fi action flick was originally slated for theatrical release on Christmas Day 2020 and sees Chris Pratt lead humanity’s fight against an alien invasion. Planet Earth’s secret weapon? Being able to recruit soldiers from the past to help fight – a nifty trick we’re sure you’ll agree. With a cast also featuring J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson and Yvonne Strahovski, expect big budget action sequences and the reversing of polarities galore.

Release date: July 2, 2021

He’s All That, Netflix


He’s All That isn’t airing until August so there are few details available at the moment – except, perhaps, for that fact that this may be Netflix’s most shameless attempt to get its claws into the lucrative Gen Z market while appealing to the nostalgia of its core Millennial and Gen X customers. As you may have guessed from the name, this is a reimagination of 1999’s She’s All That, with the utterly original, never done before twist of reversed gender roles. The Zeitgeist element? He’s All That’s cool girl is played by none other than Tik Tok superstar Addison Rae. We’re not expecting Oscar nominations for this one but as Sunday evening movies go, don’t dismiss it.

Release date: August 27, 2021

Vigil, BBC One


Disappointing finale aside, if the end of Line of Duty has left a crime drama-shaped hole in your life, you won’t have to wait too long until BBC One swoops in to fill it. Starring Suranne Jones and Martin Compston, Vigil has been created by the same team behind Line of Duty and begins with a suspicious death aboard the submarine HMS Vigil. Jones, as DCI Amy Silva, is called in to investigate and it soon becomes clear this is only the tip of an iceberg. Cue the unravelling of a conspiracy that goes all the way to the upper echelons of British national security and threatens the country’s nuclear deterrents. A rare cinematic depiction of the UK’s controversial Trident programme, expect everyone to be talking about this one.

Release date: Late summer 2021

Read more: The top festivals taking place in the UK this summer