Every year there are a certain number of films that I’m excited to see that are not always the same as the films that I know I will see. 2011 will be a big year for popcorn movies with comic book adaptations like The Green Lantern and Captain American leading the way. However, I am not very excited for those film because I have pretty low expectations for their quality. The films that I am anticipating are the independent and high-profile fall/winter releases. In other words, the type of films that make my top ten list every year. Below are the films that I think I have the best chance of loving in 2011.
75 Most Anticipated Movies of 2011
75) Butter – TBA 2011
Directed By: Jim Field Smith
Synopsis: A comedy set in the Midwest U.S., where an adopted girl discovers her talent for butter carving and finds herself pitted against an ambitious local woman in their town’s annual contest.
Why I’m Excited: Having grown up in a state that is home to the Butter Carving competition and features it as a prominent part of every State Fair, this film seems like it might hit close to home. Also it stars Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, and Jennifer Garner.
74) Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol – December 16, 2011
Directed By: Brad Bird
Why I’m Excited: The only reason that I am at all excited for Mission Impossible 4 is because it features the live-action directorial debut of Brad Bird, director of two of my favorite Pixar movies – Ratatouille and The Incredibles. It will also get a boost from its great supporting cast including Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg.
73) Your Highness – April 8, 2011
Directed By: David Gordon Green
Synopsis: When Prince Fabious’s bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her… accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous.
Why I’m Excited: One of my favorite stupid comedies of the past couple years has been the stoner movie Pineapple Express. This film basically looks like a medieval regurgitation with way better female co-stars – Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel.
72) The Beaver – April 8, 2011
Directed By: Jodie Foster
Synopsis: A troubled husband and executive adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating.
Why I’m Excited: This film already has points against it because of its star, Mel Gibson, but the script was very highly regarded when it was on the Black List for a few years running and Jodie Foster has proven herself a capable director.
71) Thor – May 6, 2011
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Synopsis: The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.
Why I’m Excited: The only comic-book movie of 2011 that I’m remotely interested in is Kenneth Branagh’s presentation of the Norse hero. I hope that Branagh can embrace the silliness of the concept although the initial posters and marketing might indicate that it’s taking itself a little too seriously.
70) Win Win – TBA 2011
Directed By: Thomas McCarthy
Synopsis: Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family.
Why I’m Excited: Thomas McCarthy, whose initial independent efforts The Station Agent and The Visitor have been quietly very successful, works with the king of depressed characters in independent films Paul Giamatti. He stars alongside Oscar nominee Amy Ryan.
69) Hobo With a Shotgun – TBA 2011
Directed By: Jason Eisener
Synopsis: A homeless vigilante blows away crooked cops, pedophile Santas, and other scumbags with his trusty pump-action shotgun.
Why I’m Excited: My interest in this film comes largely out of sheer curiosity. Early word on the film has been positive and the trailer looks interesting.
68) Bernie – TBA 2011
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Synopsis: In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she’s alive.
Why I’m Excited: The great Richard Linklater directs this Uncle Bernie-esque comedy that will undoubtedly have a lot going on below the surface. The unique cast includes Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Shirley McClaine.
67) Shame – TBA 2011
Directed By: Steve McQueen
Synopsis: A drama centered on 30-something Brandon, his myriad sexual escapades, and what happens when his wayward younger sister moves in with him.
Why I’m Excited: The director behind the excellent 2009 film Hunger teams up with a phenomenal cast that features Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender. The story sounds clever and could be allow for McQueen to break out into the mainstream.
66) Restless – TBA 2011
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Synopsis: The story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII.
Why I’m Excited: The story looks a retelling of Harold and Maude if Maude was about 60 years younger. Mia Wasikowska was one of the biggest stars of 2010 and she looks to continue her breakout in 2011. I wonder when she’ll be nominated for an Oscar.
65) Take This Waltz – TBA 2011
Directed By: Sarah Polley
Synopsis: A funny, bittersweet and heart-wrenching story about a woman struggling to choose between two different types of love.
Why I’m Excited: Actress Sarah Polley made a great directing premiere with 2006’s Away From Her and she returns with younger subjects. The case includes Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams, and Sarah Silverman which indicates it is definitely going to be funner than Away From Her.
64) Barney’s Version – January 14, 2011
Directed By: Richard J. Lewis
Synopsis: The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky.
Why I’m Excited: Paul Giamatti looks like he is at the top of his game in this foul-mouthed comedy. The reviews were mixed when it played in Toronto, but based on the trailer it looks right up my alley.
63) The Congress – TBA 2011
Directed By: Ari Folman
Why I’m Excited: Folman directed the brilliant 2008 documentary Waltz With Bashir and this time around he tries his hand at the live-action game with a film adaptation. Not much is known about the movie, but it sounds like it will be in English.
62) Tyrannosaur – TBA 2011
Directed By: Paddy Considine
Synopsis: A woman looks for a way out of her abusive relationship.
Why I’m Excited: One of my favorite actors Paddy Considine gets his first attempt at directing a feature-length film with this drama set to premiere at Sundance.
61) Cars 2 – June 24, 2011
Directed By: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Synopsis: Racing star Lightning McQueen teams up with his best friend Mater for an international adventure as they go up against the world’s fastest cars.
Why I’m Excited: Rarely does a Pixar film rank so low on my yearly anticipation list, but the first Cars film remains my least favorite in Pixar’s canon. However, I do put my complete trust in Pixar that this film will earn its place in their filmography.
60) 30 Minutes or Less – August 12, 2011
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Synopsis: Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery driver and force him to rob a bank within 30 minutes.
Why I’m Excited: Jessie Eisenberg follows up his sure to be Oscar nominated Social Network performance with this silly comedy with Danny McBride. It will probably have little in the way of depth, but if it causes laughter, I approve.
59) Dream House – September 30, 2011
Directed By: Jim Sheridan
Synopsis: Soon after moving into their seemingly idyllic new home, a family learns of a brutal crime committed against former residents of the dwelling.
Why I’m Excited: This synopsis seems very run of the mill, but with 6-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan at the helm, there is definitely an opportunity for greatness. Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz all star.
58) The Adjustment Bureau – March 4, 2011
Directed By: George Nolfi
Synopsis: The affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.
Why I’m Excited: The trailer looks very compelling and Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are always great entertainment. It’s based on a short story by Philip K. Dick whose works are hit and miss when adapted for film, but I’m hoping this one will be a hit.
57) The Killer Elite – TBA 2011
Directed By: Gary McKendry
Synopsis: A former Navy Seal is forced out of retirement in order to save his friend.
Why I’m Excited: A promising action thriller that teams up Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, and Clive Owen sounds just excellent. It’s unclear whether this will be popcorn entertainment thriller or mature, Oscar-worthy thriller. Sign me up, either way.
56) Immortals – November 11, 2011
Directed By: Tarsem
Synopsis: Greek warrior Theseus battles against imprisoned titans.
Why I’m Excited: One of the true visionary directors, Tarsem’s films have been unfortunately overlooked. This one stars Mickey Rourke and Stephen Dorff, so it is less likely to go unnoticed in 2011.
55) The Whistleblower – August 2011
Directed By: Larysa Kondracki
Synopsis: A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.
Why I’m Excited: This film could be similar to Fair Game or it could be more like the predecessor Nothing But the Truth, but the one thing it is for sure is it will probably get its star Rachel Weisz some awards attention.
54) Drive – September 16, 2011
Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn
Synopsis: A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
Why I’m Excited: Director Nicolas Winding Refn was responsible for the brilliant 2009 film Bronson, which introduced America to the effervescent Tom Hardy. Hardy is not back for Drive, but Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling will be making appearances.
53) Rampart – TBA 2011
Directed By: Oren Moverman
Synopsis: Follows veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, as he struggles to take care of his family, and fights for his own survival.
Why I’m Excited: The director of The Messenger kicks it up a notch with this crime drama that stars Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Steve Buscemi, and Sigourney Weaver. We will soon find out if Moverman can always be successful in drawing great performances from his actors or if 2009 was a fluke.
52) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – TBA 2011
Directed By: John Madden
Synopsis: A story set in Bangalore and centered around the workers and residents at Dunroamin, a home for the elderly.
Why I’m Excited: John Madden returns to an all-British cast for his next film and with stars like Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel.
51) We Need to Talk About Kevin – TBA 2011
Directed By: Lynne Ramsay
Synopsis: The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief — and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions — by writing to her estranged husband.
Why I’m Excited: The synopsis sounds very dramatic, almost too much so, but with the brilliantly subtle Tilda Swinton as the main female, I have no doubt that its tone will be perfect.
50) 2 Days in New York – TBA 2011
Directed By: Julie Delpy
Why I’m Excited: Chris Rock and Julie Delpy seem like a weird combination, but it might make sense for the sequel to her 2007 film 2 Days in Paris. Following a similar style to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, this film is likely to have a lot of smart dialogue.
49) One Day – TBA 2011
Directed By: Lon Scherfig
Synopsis: A romantic comedy centered on Dexter and Emma, who first meet during their graduation in 1988 and proceed to reunite one day each year for the next 20 years.
Why I’m Excited: This film seems like a lighter version of her 2009 Oscar nominated An Education and replaces Carey Mulligan for Anne Hathaway. It’s got a solid cast of British and American performers including Romola Garai, Patricia Clarkson, and Jim Sturgess.
48) Jane Eyre – March 11, 2011
Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
Synopsis: A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret.
Why I’m Excited: If you need proof that Mia Wasikowska is in for another big year, look no further than this film which gives her the title role. It also stars Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Bell, Judi Dench, and Sally Hawkins.
47) On the Road – TBA 2011
Directed By: Walter Salles
Synopsis: A young man sets out to travel the roads and railways of America.
Why I’m Excited: Very little is known about this film except that it’s based on a novel by the brilliant Jack Kerouac and it has a fantastic cast from top to bottom including the likes of Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Steve Buscemi, Viggo Mortensen, Elizabeth Moss, Terence Howard, and Sam Riley.
46) Super 8 – June 10, 2011
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Why I’m Excited: This notoriously secretive project from J.J. Abrams will undoubtedly be one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer. I have yet to be disappointed by an Abrams film and with another cast of mostly unknowns, he has another great opportunity to make one of the best popcorn movies of the year.
45) Albert Nobbs – TBA 2011
Directed By: Rodrigo Garcia
Synopsis: Albert Nobbs struggles to survive in late 19th century Ireland.
Why I’m Excited: This is one of the most bizarre films prospected to be released this year. First and foremost it presents the writing debut of actress Glenn Close who co-wrote the screenplay. Secondly it’s directed by a notable Colombian filmmaker, but set in Ireland. Thirdly, it’s Mia Wasikowska’s 311th film set to be released in 2011. I’m still excited.
44) At Swim-Two-Birds – TBA 2011
Directed By: Brendan Gleeson
Synopsis: A playwright’s life begins to mingle with the fictional characters he has created.
Why I’m Excited: 2011 will see the directing premiere of several big actors and in this case Brendan Gleeson will have his first opportunity to be behind the camera. Mr. Gleeson managed to assemble a very Irish cast for this fairytale including Cillian Murphy, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Gabriel Byrne, and of course Brendan himself.
43) Meek’s Cutoff – April 8, 2011
Directed By: Kely Reichardt
Synopsis: Settlers traveling through the Oregon desert in 1845 find themselves stranded in harsh conditions.
Why I’m Excited: If there are two things that I’ve been digging lately, it’s Westerns and female-directed films. This film got a great response when it premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, especially for its star Michelle Williams, who could be making yet another run for Oscar next year.
42) The Impossible – TBA 2011
Directed By: Juan Antonio Bayona
Synopsis: An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.
Why I’m Excited: The director of The Orphanage does his first English-language film with this apocalyptic thriller. Assuming that it gets a somewhat limited release, it could be one of those low-budget, epic scale films that make great waves every year. It also stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.
41) Young Adult – TBA 2011
Directed By: Jason Reitman
Synopsis: A divorced writer from the Midwest returns to her hometown to reconnect with an old flame, who’s now married with a family.
Why I’m Excited: Jason Reitman re-teams with Diablo Cody for another film that sounds like his type of dramedy. While Juno is not one of my favorites, I rather enjoyed Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air and hope that since this film is more adult-oriented it will be more like Reitman’s first and third film than his second.
40) The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – December 28, 2011
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Synopsis: Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock’s ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt.
Why I’m Excited: If the Tintin movie was not being made with motion capture animation, then I would have dashed out to audition for the lead role, because in look and in dress, I am Tintin. Non-ginger Jamie Bell instead gets the honors in this film which automatically has potential because its in the hands of Spielberg.
39) The Conspirator – April 2011
Directed By: Robert Redford
Synopsis: Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.
Why I’m Excited: Some eyebrows were raised when this potential 2010 Oscar favorite got moved back to an early 2011 release date, which is usually a bad sing. However, the film is on a subject that up until the last few years was not covered too often by Hollywood, so it should at least be interesting if not enlightening.
38) The Help – August 12, 2011
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Synopsis: A look at what happens when a southern town’s unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship.
Why I’m Excited: Film Misery favorite Emma Stone breaks away from the teen comedy circuit for this American period drama. The film also stars Oscar nominees Viola Davis and Sissy Spacek as part of the dynamic female cast, making this film feel like the strongest potential for women power on screen in 2011.
37) Carancho – TBA 2011
Directed By: Pablo Trapero
Synopsis: In Argentina over 8,000 people die in traffic accidents every year. Behind each of these tragedies is a flourishing industry founded on insurance payouts and legal loopholes…
Why I’m Excited: The 2010 Cannes Film Festival hit and the Argentinian selection for the 2011 Best Foreign Film Oscar gets a release in the United States this year. The film has received massive praise and stars The Secret in Their Eyes sensation Ricardo Darin.
36) My Week With Marilyn – TBA 2011
Directed By: Simon Curtis
Synopsis: Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
Why I’m Excited: The film has modern stars playing cinema legends including Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, and Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller. If nothing else, this movie will definitely make me want to revisit the classics.
35) We Bought a Zoo – December 23, 2011
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Synopsis: A father moves his family to the English countryside to own and operate a zoo.
Why I’m Excited: The beloved Cameron Crowe is back from taking some time off after his 2005 film Elizabethtown was not very warmly received. Hopefully Mr. Crowe is back in full strength and he will have some great actors to lean on including Matt Damon, Scarlett Johanssen, Thomas Haden Church, and Elle Fanning.
34) The 13 Women of Nanjing – TBA 2011
Directed By: Yimou Zhang
Synopsis: Chinese sex workers in 1937 volunteer to replace university students as escorts for invading Japanese soldiers.
Why I’m Excited: The visionary director behind films like Hero brings us this partly English language drama that stars Christian Bale. In a time when American-Chinese relations are as tense as ever, it sounds like this film should do a nice job of bridging some ground.
33) War Horse – December 28, 2011
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Synopsis: Follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend.
Why I’m Excited: It is strange that Steven Spielberg is releasing two rather large budget films on the same day next year. This is definitely going to be the more Oscar bait of the two with a World War I setting and cast of mostly unknowns.
32) Larry Crowne – July 1, 2011
Directed By: Tom Hanks
Synopsis: After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.
Why I’m Excited: This sounds like a film version of the NBC show “Community,” but with Tom Hanks getting his first film directing job it will hopefully have less obvious humor and better acting. Along with Hanks in the cast are Julia Roberts, Taraji P. Henson, and TV stars Bryan Cranston and Wilmer Valderrama.
31) Beginners – June 3, 2011
Directed By: Mike Mills
Synopsis: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.
Why I’m Excited: I don’t know much about the film besides its synopsis, but it sounds like something that the brilliant Christopher Plummer will really be able shine in. He plays the father of Ewan McGregor in a film that also stars Inglourious Basterds standout Melanie Laurent.
30) Twixt Now and Sunrise – TBA 2011
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Why I’m Excited: The legendary Francis Ford Coppola continues to enjoy a late career surge, adding films in the last several years to his impressive canon that are experimental and fascinating. Little is known about the story, but the characters released include Edgar Allan Poe and the IMDb page lists it as a horror/thriller.
29) Miral – March 25, 2011
Directed By: Julian Schnabel
Synopsis: A drama centered on an orphaned Palestinian girl growing up in the wake of the first Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict.
Why I’m Excited: This was one of my most anticipated films of 2010 before it got pushed back, largely because director Julian Schnabel has not yet disappointed. The reviews out of Venice were mixed, but I’ve learned to ignore film festival reviews and let my own opinion be the judge.
28) Source Code – April 1, 2011
Directed By: Duncan Jones
Synopsis: An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.
Why I’m Excited: Duncan Jones follows up his acclaimed debut Moon with this thriller that looks akin to Run Lola Run mixed with Groundhog Day. This will be a big test for Jones to see if his sophomore effort can hold up.
27) Wuthering Heights – TBA 2011
Directed By: Andrea Arnold
Synopsis: A poor young English boy named Heathcliff is taken in by the wealthy Earnshaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his young foster sister, Cathy. Based on the classic novel by Emily Bronte.
Why I’m Excited: Although I haven’t seen it yet, Andrea Arnold got great reviews for her 2010 film Fish Tank and this remake of a classic story should be entertaining.
26) Hanna – April 8, 2011
Directed By: Joe Wright
Synopsis: A 14-year-old who was raised by her father to be a cold-hearted killing machine connects with a French family who look to help ease her into a more conventional life.
Why I’m Excited: Saiorse Ronan looks incredibly badass in the trailer for this apparently fast-paced thriller. The director of Atonement speeds things up in this film that will probably not be an Awards contender, but probably will be a lot of fun.
25) Melancholia – TBA 2011
Directed By: Lars Von Trier
Why I’m Excited: You never know what to expect with a film from Lars Von Trier, except for the fact that it will be unlike almost anything else at the cinema in any given year. He’s being hush hush about what this film is about, but it does feature a cast that includes Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourgh, and, wait for it…Kirsten Dunst.
24) The Muppets – November 23, 2011
Directed By: James Bobin
Synopsis: Kermit the Frog and his muppet pals put on a show to save their old theater.
Why I’m Excited: One of my favorite comedies of 2008 was Forgetting Sarah Marshall and that was largely because of Jason Segel’s screenplay. In his live-action love letter to Jim Henson he quadruples the puppet presence and stars alongside a cameo-filled cast of A-listers.
23) The Grandmasters – TBA 2011
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong
Synopsis: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.
Why I’m Excited: Not only is it a high-profile kung-fu movie, but it is directed by Kar Wai Wong so it will undoubtedly be smart and character driven. It also stars Wong regulars Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang.
22) August: Osage County – TBA 2011
Directed By: John Wells
Synopsis: The Weston family members are all intelligent, sensitive creatures who have the uncanny ability of making each other absolutely miserable. When the patriarch of the household mysteriously vanishes, the Weston clan gathers together to simultaneously support and attack one another.
Why I’m Excited: The great Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are the first members of the cast announced in what is one of the most acclaimed Broadway shows of the past decade. The movie will probably not live up to the play, but it is sure to be an acting powerhouse.
21) Midnight in Paris – TBA 2011
Directed By: Woody Allen
Synopsis: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.
Why I’m Excited: Woody is keeping up with his one movie per year trend with another star-studded ensemble comedy that includes Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Kathy Bates among others.
20) The Ides of March – TBA 2011
Directed By: George Clooney
Synopsis: An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail. Based on the play by Beau Willimon.
Why I’m Excited: George Clooney directs his first drama since his 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck and it looks like he’s staying political. I’m unfamiliar with the play this film is based on, but with Clooney behind the camera and Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in front of it, this is a film that I definitely can’t wait to see.
19) Of Gods and Men – February 25, 2011
Directed By: Xavier Beauvois
Synopsis: Under threat by fundamentalist terrorists, a group of Trappist monks stationed with an impoverished Algerian community must decide whether to leave or stay.
Why I’m Excited: This critically acclaimed 2010 Cannes film is France’s official selection for the 2010 Best Foreign Film race. It is apparently based on true historical facts and presented in semi-documentary style and it sounds fantastic.
18) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – TBA 2011
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson
Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons.
Why I’m Excited: The amazing and talented Tom Hardy gets the chance for a creative and rugged role that resembles his 2008 performance in Bronson. He stars alongside Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Christian McKay, Mark Strong, and Ciaran Hinds.
17) This Must Be the Place – TBA 2011
Directed By: Paolo Sorrentino
Synopsis: A bored, retired rock star sets out to find his father’s executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the U.S.
Why I’m Excited: The initial set photos from this film look of a make-up wearing Sean Penn look brilliant and the bizarre synopsis makes this seem like it might actually be something original. Along with Penn the film also stars Frances McDormand.
16) Haywire and Contagion – April 22, 2011/October 21, 2011
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Synopsis: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission./An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.
Why I’m Excited: The brilliantly artistic director Steven Soderbergh continually threatens retirement, yet he remains one of the hardest working directors in the business. His two films coming out this year both seem to be flowing with potential, although they will probably stick with limited releases and not much Awards play.
15) Anonymous – September 30, 2011
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Synopsis: A political thriller about who actually wrote the plays of William Shakespeare– Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford– set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.
Why I’m Excited: Even though this movie blasphemes the greatest writer of all-time, I’m still very curious about it. Roland Emmerich seems like a very curious choice to direct, but with Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, and the brilliant Derek Jacobi.
14) Straw Dogs – September 16, 2011
Directed By: Rod Lurie
Synopsis: L.A. screenwriter David Sumner relocates with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both.
Why I’m Excited: I don’t know much about the original film that this is based on besides the fact that it has a very cool poster. Director Rod Lurie, who is most notable for Nothing But the Truth, takes the reigns and directs Alexander Skarsgard, James Marsden, and Kate Bosworth.
13) A Dangerous Method – TBA 2011
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Synopsis: A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
Why I’m Excited: Cronenberg may be my current favorite of the David directors (Fincher, Lynch, Cronenberg) and he re-teams with Viggo Mortensen for his latest film. IMDb describes it as a thriller, but the synopsis doesn’t seem to imply that. Regardless I am very excited to see what Cronenberg has in store.
12) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – TBA 2011
Directed By: Stephen Daldry
Synopsis: A nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist, searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks.
Why I’m Excited: The Oscar-loved director teams up with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and John Goodman for this certain to be Awards bait film. It may not get a 2011 release, but if it does, expect it to be all over the Oscar charts early next year.
11) The Skin That I Inhabit – November 18, 2011
Directed By: Pedro Almodovar
Synopsis: Based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel “Mygale”, this revenge tale tells the story of a plastic surgeon on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter.
Why I’m Excited: A new film from Pedro Almodovar is a must in any given year and this one sounds a bit heavier than his usual darkly comic fare. Antonio Banderas stars in this film adaptation, which just may be Spain’s selection for the 2012 Best Foreign Film Race.
10) Moon Rise Kingdom – TBA 2011
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Synopsis: Two young adults fall in love and run away. Leaders in their New England town are sticking the idea that they’ve disappeared and go in search of them. Norton will play a scout leader who brings his charges on a search. Willis is in talks to play the town sheriff whoâ€™s also looking, and who is having an affair with the missing girlâ€™s mother.
Why I’m Excited: Wes Anderson is at a point where he is able to pull together Woody Allen type of casts and this film will star Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton. It’s another film that is questionable whether or not it will open in 2011, but I’m sure hoping so.
9) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – December 21, 2011
Directed By: David Fincher
Synopsis: A journalist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing — or dead — for forty years by a young female hacker.
Why I’m Excited: I’m currently reading the second book in the series and I’ve loved the first book and film. I think that this American remake has the opportunity to really stand on its own. I have my doubts that Rooney Mara can possibly top the phenomenal character that Noomi Rapace brought to life in the Swedish original, but I think that David Fincher will do his best to work magic.
8) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – March 2, 2011
Directed By: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Synopsis: On his deathbed, Uncle Boonmee, recalls his many past lives.
Why I’m Excited: The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this film has been raved by just about everybody who has glimpsed it. I’m excited about it finally coming to the U.S. in limited release so I can see what all the fuss is about.
7) Moneyball – September 23, 2011
Directed By: Bennett Miller
Synopsis: The story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget, by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
Why I’m Excited: I love baseball movies and this one from the director of Capote sounds brilliant. It’s based on a true story that has elements that are stranger than fiction and it stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
6) Coriolanus – TBA 2011
Directed By: Ralph Fiennes
Synopsis: A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.
Why I’m Excited: Some of the greatest theatrical discoveries in the past several years have been sparsely performed Shakespearean plays. This is one of the few Shakespeare plays that does not have a feature film adaptation until now (only made for TV movies). Along with Fiennes the cast also features Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, and Vanessa Redgrave.
5) The Descendants – TBA 2011
Directed By: Alexander Payne
Synopsis: A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.
Why I’m Excited: The brilliant Alexander Payne finally gets back to directing films with his first feature since 2004’s Sideways. Payne’s films always get love from critics and attention at the Oscars and this should be no different with George Clooney starring in the main role.
4) Hugo Cabret – December 9, 2011
Directed By: Martin Scorcese
Synopsis: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.
Why I’m Excited: Martin Scorcese directing a 3-D period piece that stars Jude Law, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, and Emily Mortimer? What is there not to be excited about?
3) Certified Copy – March 11, 2011
Directed By: Abbas Kiarostami
Synopsis: In Tuscany to promote his latest book, a middle-aged English writer meets a French woman who leads him to the village of Lucignano.
Why I’m Excited: For many of my favorite film critics this was the best film at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. It was described as an older version of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and with Juliette Binoche in the lead that sounds great to me.
2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II – July 15, 2011
Directed By: David Yates
Synopsis: The end begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione go back to Hogwarts to find and destroy Voldemorts final horcruxes…
Why I’m Excited: I don’t buy in to too many fan franchises, but when it comes to Harry Potter I am completely hooked. I plan to accio myself a movie ticket to the midnight showing and surround myself with muggles and let the goodness of the final Potter installment wash over me.
1) The Tree of Life – May 27, 2011
Directed By: Terence Malick
Synopsis: The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.
Why I’m Excited: In order to call oneself a film buff it is a requirement that one worship the ground that Terence Malick walks on. The entire internet has been buzzing about Malick’s latest film for years and it is finally getting released in 2011 by Fox Searchlight.
What movies are you anticipating in 2011?
[Source for Synopses: IMDb]