These are the movies we most want to see this year. We know there are a bunch missing (yes, yes, The Avengers, The Hobbit, we get it). So tell us what you would have chosen in the comments below, or holler at us over at @TIMECulture. Enjoy.
Haywire (Jan. 20)
Steven Soderbergh’s second movie in four months (after Contagion) stars mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano as a former special operative who has to kick ass (including that of TIME favorite Michael Fassbender) all over the place after she is betrayed. Heist, action-comedy, historical drama, indie experimental — Soderbergh is adept across many genres, so we’re just going to trust him here.
The Innkeepers (Feb. 3)
Director Ti West’s homage to ” ’80s babysitter-in-peril films,” The House of the Devil, offered a master class in how to draw out tension. This haunted-hotel flick should deliver more of the same. Also, Kelly McGillis (yes, Top Gun‘s Kelly McGillis) is in it.
The Raid (March 23)
At the Toronto Film Festival in September, this Indonesian action flick received an over-the-top audience reaction during its midnight screenings. The plot — a SWAT team on the hunt for a drug lord has to storm an apartment complex and fight floor to floor against extremely well equipped henchmen — is absurdly basic, which allows viewers to focus all their attention on some amazing fight choreography.
The Hunger Games (March 23)
You’ve read the book, we’ve read the book and there’s a huge Harry Potter–size hole in all our hearts.
The Deep Blue Sea (March 30)
Terence Davies’ adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play stars Rachel Weisz as a woman who cheats on her husband, an older judge, with a young military pilot. It’s got a definite End of the Affair vibe going on, and every year could use one extremely sad yet beautiful British love tragedy.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (March 30)
Aardman Studios is best known for its Wallace and Gromit characters (and more recently, Arthur Christmas), and the sense of humor that runs throughout its stop-motion animated films is of a special kind. Its latest stop-motion film (also in 3-D, with a dash of CGI) is based on the wonderfully wry Gideon Defoe mini-pirate novels.
(LIST: 25 All-TIME Animated Films)
Wettest County (April 20)
If this list were ranked, this film might well be near the top. Starring Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce and directed by John Hillcoat and written by musician Nick Cave — the same team from Australian western The Proposition — Wettest County is about three bootlegging brothers in Depression-era Virginia and the authorities who want to bring them down.
Moonrise Kingdom (May 25)
Starring Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, this new Wes Anderson film is a must-see.
Prometheus (June 8)
Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel that’s not an Alien prequel but is totally an Alien prequel. Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Michael Fassbender star.
Brave (June 22)
Following the critical drubbing of last summer’s Cars 2 (which was nonetheless a financial success), Pixar could use a quality hit. This film, about a young Scottish princess, is the studio’s first to feature a female hero. This will be the point of everything you’ll read about this movie over the next several months.
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
After three Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi, the franchise gets a reboot. Andrew Garfield (Mark Zuckerberg’s best friend in The Social Network) and Emma Stone will star as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (goodbye, Mary Jane!). Behind the lens is Marc Webb, whose only prior feature-film experience (despite having worked on scores of music videos) is directing the romantic-comedy (500) Days of Summer.
LIST: All-TIME 100 Movies
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?
(VIDEO: 5 Ways to Know You’re Watching a Spielberg Movie)
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