The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
Argo (Sept. 14)
Hopefully it’s clear by this point that Ben Affleck is a good director. It would be better if he didn’t also star in his own movies, but whatcha gonna do? Argo, his third film after Gone Baby Gone and The Town, stars Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston and John Goodman in a story about the real-life operation to rescue six Americans who escape the U.S. embassy in Iran just before it is taken over by militants as part of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.
Looper (Sept. 28)
Writer-director Rian Johnson’s 2005 debut, Brick, recast high school as a film noir landscape where everyone spoke in riddles, femme fatales invited jocks to their parties and crime kingpins operated out of their mother’s basements. Looper, starring that film’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, takes that noir twist and applies it to a science-fiction tale involving time machines and the mob.
Skyfall (Nov. 9)
Or James Bond 23. Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) directs. Javier Bardem is the bad guy. Done.
Gravity (Nov. 23)
Children of Men‘s Alfonso Cuaron is back in sci-fi form with this Sandra Bullock and George Clooney astronaut-in-peril film. A Little Princess, Great Expectations, Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — Cuaron can do no wrong.
Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. So it’s a Spielberg movie, which is always an event. But Day-Lewis as the Great Emancipator? Whaaat?
World War Z (Dec. 21)
Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Monster’s Ball) directs Brad Pitt in the film based on Max Brooks’ (son of Mel Brooks) oral history of the zombie apocalypse.
Django Unchained (Dec. 25)
Quentin Tarantino does a slave-revenge movie. The cast — Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Kurt Russell, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson. Yeah.
The Great Gatsby (Dec. 28)
Speaking of Leo, he stars as the title character in this Baz Luhrmann adaptation of one of the great American novels. We expect that this version, with Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick, will be a far cry from the beautiful, if stultifying, Robert Redford–Mia Farrow version. Luhrmann is incapable of making a film that stands as still as that one did.
And 10 Movies We Are Not Looking Forward To:
Big Miracle (Feb. 3)
Whales, “based on a true story,” Drew Barrymore … it’s hard to put one’s finger on which part is more of a turnoff.
Star War: Episode I — The Phantom Menace 3-D (Feb. 10)
Clearly, George Lucas’ greediness knows no bounds. Not only is he shamelessly re-releasing this stinker (we all agree on this right? O.K., good), but he also has the gall to charge a 3-D surcharge for it. And you thought the awfulness popped off the screen at you before.
The Three Stooges (April 13)
Done right, physical comedy can be unforgettable. And the Three Stooges were masters of the form. But let’s be honest — there’s nothing memorable about these particular characters. A cynical scraping of the pop culture property barrel.
Dark Shadows (May 11)
Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Tim Burton hasn’t made a Johnny Depp–less movie since 2003’s Big Fish. Every creative partnership reaches its end eventually. We vote for this one.
Battleship (May 18)
A.k.a. Transformers 3.5: Blue of the Sea
Men in Black 3 (May 25)
It’s been almost a decade since the last Men in Black film. Such a gap is a sign that this is a movie few were calling for.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29)
Wait a second, the RZA is in this? Perhaps we’re looking forward to this after all. But still.
The Expendables 2 (Aug. 17)
They’re even older the second time around.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (Nov. 16)
Well, we put The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I on our top 10 worst movies of 2011 list. So … we’re not very enthusiastic about this one.
Les Misérables (Dec. 7)
The casting of Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert is kind of wonderful. So why is this movie on this list? Because it’s directed by Tom Hooper, who somehow managed to fool the Academy last year into awarding him and his film The King’s Speech over David Fincher and The Social Network. With such wind at his back, the still fairly inexperienced director is being given just enough rope to hang himself in the form a big movie musical.
LIST: All-TIME 100 Movies
MORE: Top 10 Movies of 2011