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Our Most-Anticipated Films of 2011

Written by on February 21, 2011 

Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston; July 22nd)

Synopsis: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

Why You Should See It: Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, and Hugo Weaving, this is one of the first period piece superhero films. Director Joe Johnston promises we’ll be thoroughly entertained with his take on the first Avenger’s rise to glory. – Josh B.

Cowboys & Aliens (Jon Favreau; July 29th)

Synopsis: A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys are all that stand in their way.

Why You Should See It: If the title alone isn’t enough to pique your interest, how about the fact that the cast includes Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Keith Carradine, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell? Want more? You got it. This cross-genre thriller is directed by Jon Favreau, who has brought forth such crowd pleasers as Elf, Zathura, and Iron Man. – Kristy P.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa; July 29th)

Synopsis: A father’s life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children.

Why You Should See It: While their latest feature, I Love You Phillip Morris, was completely overlooked, this bigger budget comedy will thankfully reach a much larger audience. The pairing of Ryan Gosling and Steve Carrell has me interested, as well as Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, and Julianne Moore. – Jordan R.

The Darkest Hour (Chris Gorak; Aug. 5th)

Synopsis: In Russia, a group of kids struggle to survive after an alien invasion.

Why You Should See It: While every studio is pumping out their alien invasion movies, this Timur Bekmambetov-produced blockbuster gives me high hopes. Emile Hirsche is back in his first role since 2008, and is joined by rising star Olivia Thirlby. Shot on location in Russia, I have faith that this will deliver the spectacle, and the story. – Jordan R.

30 Minutes or Less (Ruben Fleischer; Aug. 12th)

Synopsis: Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery driver and force him to rob a bank within 30 minutes.

Why You Should See It: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, and Danny McBride comprise one of my favorite casts for a comedy this summer. After surprising everyone with his directorial debut Zombieland, Ruben Fleischer returns with this Black List script. – Jordan R.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (Troy Nixey; August 12th)

Synopsis: A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.

Why You Should See It: This Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror film looks to revitalize the tired genre. Starring Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, and newcomer Bailee Madison, it finally has a release in mid-August. – Jordan R.

Fright Night (Craig Gillespie; Aug. 19th)

Synopsis: A remake of the comedy-horror picture about a teenager who discovers his new next-door neighbor is a vampire.

Why You Should See It: Bringing this classic comedy-horror film from the 80’s back to life is director Craig Gillespie (United States of Tara, Lars and the Real Girl). With a cast including Colin Ferrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, and David Tennant of Doctor Who fame, this remake is almost guaranteed to be a dark comedy you’ll find yourself busting a gut over. – Josh B.

Warrior (Gavin O’ Connor; Sept. 9th)

Synopsis: The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament — a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother.

Why You Should See It: While his last film Pride & Glory left a lot to be desired, I’m hoping the casting of Tom Hardy can make for an enjoyable B-movie. – Jordan R.

Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn; Sept. 16th)

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 You Should See It: Nicolas Winding Refn is a brilliant, existential filmmaker. He’s played greatly in the independent film sandbox, and now he’s completed his first hollywood film outing with following a stunt drive on the run (played by Ryan Gosling, coming off from a tremendous performance in Blue Valentine). Gosling has described the film as Blue Velvet meeting Purple Rain, so it doesn’t sound like Refn is turning out anything paint-by-numbers in his Hollywood debut. – Jack G.

Moneyball (Bennett Miller; Sept. 23rd)

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 You Should See It: Aaron Sorkin returns after writing last year’s best screenplay with The Social Network. With Capote director Bennett Miller stepping in after Steven Soderbergh dropped out at the last minute, it could be one of the strongest award contenders of the year. Add in Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the interesting casting of Jonah Hill, and this is one of my most-anticipated. – Jordan R.

Now (Andrew Niccol; Sept. 30th)

Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future the aging gene has been switched off. To avoid overpopulation, time has become the currency and the way people pay for luxuries and necessities. The rich can live forever, while the rest try to negotiate for their immortality. A poor young man who comes into a fortune of time, though too late to help his mother from dying. He ends up on the run from a corrupt police force known as ‘time keepers’.

Why You Should See It: Andrew Niccol and sci-fi always go well together. Look at his under-seen Gattaca for a premier example. This thriller brings together Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, and Olivia Wilde, but I’m truly most excited for cinematography by Roger Deakins. – Jordan R.

Dream House (Jim Sheridan; Sept. 30th)

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 You Should See It: Jim Sheridan had a lucky early career, consistently working with Daniel Day-Lewis. The director has since made some interesting choices, directing the 50 Cent biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and the remake of Brothers in 2009. His latest is a mystery thriller starring Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig, and Naomi Watts. The haunted house plot seems tired, but hopefully Sheridan can prove us wrong. – Jordan R.

Wanderlust (David Wain; Oct. 7th)

Synopsis: A urban couple branch out to live a more counter-culture lifestyle.

Why You Should See It: The comedic geniuses behind 2008’s Role Models are back with another feature. Paul Rudd returns, and while I’m not the biggest fan of our two female leads, Jennifer Aniston and Malin Akerman, I still have faith in Wain. – Jordan R.

The Thing (Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.; Oct. 14th)

Synopsis: At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson. While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form.

Why You Should See It: This prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing takes place immediately before the seminal 1982 film. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim) as paleontologist Kate Lloyd, it tells the story of the destroyed Norwegian camp and excavation site from the first film. Purists will argue about whether expanding the classic story is necessary, but either way, fans of the original should at least give the prequel a chance. – James B.

Contagion (Steven Soderbergh; Oct. 21st)

Synopsis: 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 You Should See It: Its a good year when we have not one, but two Steven Soderbergh films hitting theaters. After Haywire in April, this narrative is being described as a horror outbreak thriller, and with a cast including Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, and Matt Damon, I couldn’t be looking forward to it more. – Jordan R.

Check out the rest of the list on the next page >>

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