This year promises to be the anti-2011 as far as anticipation goes. At this time last year, folks were getting very excited about
, but looking past those two films, we had what? A second "Hangover"? A fourth "Pirates"? A sequel to
? It was the smaller films that gave 2011 its mojo.
But this year seems much different. In most years, Skyfall
would be the undisputed, hands-down, no-questions-asked No. 1 most-anticipated movie. This year, it sneaks in at No. 5. That's because we've got films from two of the greatest franchises of ever coming out, as well as films from two of the most dynamic modern filmmakers (one of which is six years in the making). And the stuff after "Bond 23" isn't shabby either. Below are the ten that we're most looking forward to. Honorable mentions include Tom Tykwer's Cloud Atlas
, Ang Lee's Life of Pi
, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games
, Judd Apatow's This is Forty
, Ben Affleck's Argo
, and Marc Forster's World War Z
.10. Nero Fiddled (TBD 2012)
With Midnight in Paris
, Woody Allen gave a defiant middle finger to all those critics who've written him off over the past decade or so. Yes, it's a lighthearted, somewhat slight film, but the promise of a rejuvenated Allen is extremely exciting. This year, all eyes will be on his Nero Fiddled. Plot details are scarce, but a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, and Allen himself would likely land on this countdown no matter the director.9. Lincoln (December 2012)
Though we only get one Steven Spielberg film in 2012, it promises to be a big one. Lincoln
has been years in the making, but we're glad for the wait. A late casting change — Daniel Day-Lewis replacing Liam Neeson — elevates our anticipation for this one tenfold. Day-Lewis chooses his projects wisely, and only appears in something every few years. His Lincoln will almost certainly be one of the year's acting highlights.8. Brave (June 22)
Pixar, we miss you. Cars 2
was not very good, so please don't let us down again, OK? But if anticipation and early promise means anything, this will be a serious rebound for the masters of animation. And the studio's first ever female protagonist? Count us in.7. Prometheus (June 8)
Still, no one knows if this is an Alien
prequel, it's own entity, or something in between (likely the latter). But the teaser looked awesome, as did the footage shown at Comic-Con last year. Ridley Scott has been hit-and-miss in recent years (more miss than hit, actually), but we're as ready as anyone to see him strike gold again, and this project might just be the one to do it.
6. Kathryn Bigelow's Untitled Bin Laden Project (Dec. 19)
Kathryn Bigelow floored us three years ago with The Hurt Locker, and though her next film (which is unofficially titled Kill Bin Laden) will probably be a little more formulaic, more commercial, she's reason enough to get seriously excited about an upcoming flick.
5. Skyfall (Nov. 9)
The aforementioned "Bond 23" has more going for it than just the return of Daniel Craig to this iconic role (as awesome as that is). Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) is in the director's chair, and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins is photographing the film. Then, there's the cast. Javier Bardem is the villain (Anton Chigurh, anyone?). Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, and many others are ready and raring to go. So are we.
4. Gravity (Nov. 21)
This one might not have the high profile of some others on this list, but with Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men
, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
) behind the camera, it's already got us hooked. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are starring in the film, which focuses on two astronauts who, after some kind of accident, find themselves floating through space. Sounds like it could be phenomenal.3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)
Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth for the first half of his Lord of the Rings prequel. No word yet on how exactly Jackson plans to split Bilbo Baggins' story in two, but after three nearly perfect films (and about 500 Oscars), we're giving him the benefit of the doubt.
2. Django Unchained (Dec. 25)
Quentin Tarantino films are always something worthy of anticipation. Why? He never lets us down. This one, about a former slave out for revenge, sounds like pure Tarantino, and once again, the cast is just jaw-dropping: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell and Sacha Baron Cohen.
1. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
If you thought it'd be something else, you're a fool. I really don't think it's hyperbole to say this is one of the most-anticipated films of all time, and for good reason. Both Batman Begins andThe Dark Knight were masterpieces. Both the trailer and the prologue were fantastic. Christopher Nolan's record has no blemishes. And we're sure Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, and yes, Anne Hathaway, will add a great deal to an already accomplished ensemble. July 20 can't come soon enough.