10 Most Anticipated Films of 2011
As usual, sequels and remakes dominate the release schedule for the coming year. But there are a few original films out there to look forward to as well. And of course, release dates are subject to change...
1. The Tree Of Life (May)
Any film by writer-director Terrence Malick is an event (his last was the 2005 masterpiece The New World). This is a 1950s fantasy-drama about a man trying to rediscover the wonder of childhood. It stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn as father and son in different time periods.
2. Sucker Punch (Mar)
Watchmen director Zack Snyder brings us this thriller about a group of young women (including Emily Browning and Vanessa Hudgens) who escape from a mental hospital through a fantasy parallel world. Expect lots of mayhem and whizzy effects, like Snyder's 300.
3. The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn (Dec)
Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson team up for this ambitious performance-capture 3D animated film based on the classic comics. If that weren't enough, it stars Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. And Martin Scorsese also turns his hand to 3D with Hugo Cabret (Dec).
4. Paul (Mar)
Speaking of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, they're back in Sean of the Dead mode for this comical road movie in which they pick up a hitchhiking alien in New Mexico and try to reunite him with his mother ship.
5. Cowboys & Aliens (Jul)
The title pretty much says it all, but apparently this Wild West intergalactic adventure is a serious action thriller, not a pastiche. It stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. For more grisly action, see Paul Bettany in Priest (May) and Matt Damon in Contagion (Oct).
6. X-Men: First Class (Jun)
An especially strong cast leads this prequel, with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the young Xavier and Magneto, respectively. And it's being directed by Kick-Ass' Matthew Vaughn. For more superheroes, see Green Lantern (Jun), Captain America: The First Avenger (Jul) and Thor (Jul).
7. Restless (Mar)
Gus Van Sant continues to be one of America's most challenging and inventive directors, moving effortlessly between artful explorations of youth (Paranoid Park) and provocative commercial hits (Milk). This dark romance features rising stars Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper (son of Dennis) as teens who are obsessed with death, for very different reasons.
8. The Hangover 2 (May)
The whole gang is back for another adventure, this time in Thailand, and the filmmakers promise that it'll be even more deranged this time. Which is a little hard to imagine. Other comedy sequels include Scream 4 (Apr) and Piranha 3DD (Aug). And for the kids we have Kung Fu Panda 2 (May), Cars 2 (Jun) and Happy Feet 2 (Nov).
9. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Jul)
Clearly this is one of the most anxiously awaited films of the decade, closing the eight-part film series with what promises to be about three hours of non-stop action. And there won't be a dry eye in the house at the end. Meanwhile, that other youth series starts its two-part finale this year. Let's hope The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Nov) doesn't continue the mopey drudgery of its predecessors.
10. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May)
Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow, thankfully without the dull Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, so we can hope for a nimbler, sillier romp. Other blockbuster sequels and prequels include Rise of the Apes (Jun), Sherlock Holmes 2 (Dec) and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Dec). Which of course reminds us of 2011's least-anticipated movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Jul).