With January ending today and nothing special to show for it from the film industry or box office, we take a look forward to the rest of 2011 and pick out the 20 movies we’re most excited about seeing on the big screen.
It was not an easy task, narrowing down our choices to 20 and ordering them – Just look at our complete 2011 movie guide to see the options – but we’ve done it and are left with a healthy mix of comedies, sci-fi films, comic book movies and a lot of action that will bring the hoards to the movie theaters.
So, before we look back and celebrate the best of 2010 at the Oscars, let’s look forward to Screen Rant’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2011.
20. Apollo 18
Release Date: April 22, 2011
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Studio: Bekmambetov Projects Ltd, distributed by Dimension Films
The very intriguing sci-fi thriller about the mission to the moon that no one ever heard about, Apollo 18 tells the story of NASA’s mission to space in the 1970s that everyone thought was canceled. The tagline, “There’s a Reason We’ve Never Gone Back to the Moon” says it all – and at this point we LIKE the fact we don’t know much about the film beyond that.
Release Date: March 18, 2011
Director: Greg Mottola
Studio: Relativity Media, distributed by Universal Pictures
Written by the lovable geek comedy pair of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the story of Paul follows two geeks who meet a unique and foul-mouthed alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) and go on an adventurous road trip together, coming across a powerful cast of comedy actors including Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, Joe Lo Truglio, John Carroll Lynch, David Koechner and Sigourney Weaver. It may have limited appeal, but we here at Screen Rant are squarely in the target demographic.
Release Date: August 19, 2011
Director: Marcus Nispel
Marcus Nispel’s remake of Conan the Barbarian is based on the screenplay by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood, and follows the titular hero on a quest across Hyboria to serve vengeance against the villains who slaughtered his father and village. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Stargate: Atlantis star Jason Momoa can live up to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stature and become a Hollywood action star from this film. We think he’ll be a different version of the character, but might make it work.
17. The Muppets
Release Date: November 23, 2011
Director: James Bobin
Studio: O Entertainment, distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Pulling together an all-star cast lead by Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) to bring The Muppets back to the silver screen in a new major feature live-action film, Kermit the Frog and friends must put on a show of a lifetime to rescue their classic theater. Segel proved he was the right man for this gig from his performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and he and family friendly Muppet characters of old share the screen with Hollywood talent including Amy Adams, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Cooper and rumored appearances by Ricky Gervais, Emily Blunt, Danny Trejo, Jack Black, Katy Perry, Billy Crystal and more!
16. Fast Five
Release Date: April 29, 2011
Director: Justin Lin
Studio: Dark Side Productions, distributed by Universal Pictures
Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and their franchise familiar crew (from all four previous installments) are back again in Fast Five for another high-octane adventure and potential start to a whole new trilogy. With a heavy duty Federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) tracking them down, the crew must work together to pull another big job against a corrupt businessman who wants them dead in order to gain their “freedom.”
15. Your Highness
Release Date: April 8, 2011
Director: David Gordon Green
Studio: Universal Pictures
Two Oscar nominees (James Franco and Natalie Portman) star alongside one of Hollywood’s current most sought after comedy actor Danny McBride in a Rated-R fantasy adventure. With the aid of skilled warrior Isabel (Portman) and his lazy useless brother Thadeous (McBride), Your Highness follows Prince Fabious’ (Franco) attempt to rescue kidnapped bride (Zooey Deschanel) while hilarity ensues. We’re hoping that it’ll be crass AND funny, not just the former.
14. Super 8
Release Date: June 10, 2011
Director: J.J. Abrams
Studio: Relativity Media, Bad Robot, distributed by Paramount Pictures
Another mysterious sci-fi project from the mind of J.J. Abrams (Lost, Cloverfield), Super 8 is about an Area 51 monster that escapes a derailed train in the 1970s and is captured on film by a bunch of kids using a Super 8 camera. Can this reach the level of success Cloverfield attained? We don’t know, but here’s hoping it delivers a new flavor of “unique.”
Release Date: May 26, 2011
Director: Todd Phillips
Studio: Touchstone Pictures, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Todd Phillips brings back the fan-favorite heavy drinkers of the 2009 summer smash hit The Hangover for another pre-wedding adventure where this time, Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug travel to Bangkok for Stu’s wedding. Expect lost memories, extreme situations and plenty of special guest appearances, including one by Liam Neeson. Can the gang hit repeat success through word-of-mouth? The first one was laugh out loud funny – we’ll see if the jokes wear thin on a second outing.
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Director: David Fincher
Studio: Optimum Releasing, distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment
David Fincher is tasked with helming the American remake of the 2009 hit, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with Rooney Mara transforming herself into the character of Lisbeth Salander to match the award-worthy performance by the original’s star, Noomi Rapace. He’s got the help of a powerful cast however, headlined by Daniel Craig alongside Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright and Christopher Plummer to tell the story of a genius hacker (Mara) who teams up with a journalist (Craig) to solve the disappearance and possible murder of a teenage girl four decades prior.
Release Date: December 16, 2011
Director: Brad Bird
Studio: Bad Robot, distributed by Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise is back for a fourth go as super spy Ethan Hunt in the next Mission: Impossible. This time he’s got a bigger team with Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner joining the cast along with Lost star Josh Holloway joining franchise familiars including Simon Pegg. Not much is known about the international story of Ghost Protocol but we do know it’s a planned start to a new trilogy with Renner taking over as the franchise’s lead character – and we like the Mission Impossible concept. Will Ethan Hunt survive this mission?
Release Date: December 16, 2011
Director: Guy Ritchie
Studio: Legendary Pictures, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Noomi Rapace and Stephen Fry join Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law on another mystery-solving adventure against the duo’s fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). The first one was a lot of fun and had some great energy and we’re hoping the sequel can match it.
9. Sucker Punch
Release Date: March 25, 2011
Director: Zack Snyder
Studio: Cruel & Unusual Films, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Zack Snyder brings his visual style, unique action sequences and creative imagination to this intense fantasy action film. In Sucker Punch, a young girl (Emily Browning) is institutionalized against her will by her stepfather, and tries to plan an escape with four other girls by using an alternative reality. It’s 300, but with young ladies using swords and guns against robots and dragons. We’re hoping (against hope?) that this will be more than pretty visuals and will actually have some heart.
Release Date: June 3, 2011
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Studio: Bad Hat Harry Productions, distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
The make or break film of the popular X-Men franchise brings Bryan Singer back into the fold and Matthew Vaughn at the helm (both who dropped out of the director’s chair X-Men: The Last Stand previously). X-Men: First Class is a prequel based in the 1960s and tells the story of young Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier as they meet and recruit other mutants to form the first X-Men and explore their different views on humanity. Can this rushed production bring a quality movie after two poorly received franchise installments? Call us insanely optimistic, but we hope so.
Release Date: July 1, 2011
Director: Michael Bay
Studio: Hasbro, distributed by Paramount Pictures
The third and final Transformers film by Michael Bay and starring Shia LaBeouf without co-star Megan Fox. After a terrible second installment, can Ehren Kruger’s script deliver the franchise’s best movie and end on a high note? The Dark of the Moon teaser trailer was great, but can the film, which is shot in 3D, fix the growing mistakes and problems of Revenge of the Fallen? (And if it’s great, we won’t hesitate to say so.)
Release Date: July 29, 2011
Director: Jon Favreau
Studio: Touchstone Pictures, distributed by Universal Pictures
Arguably one of the most unique summer blockbusters of 2011, the genre-mixing Cowboys & Aliens takes its Western feel very seriously, mixing in the horror of an alien invasion. Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde, it’s hard to go wrong with Jon Favreau working off a script worked on by Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby.
Release Date: June 17, 2011
Director: Martin Campbell
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Martin Campbell is tasked with helming the big budget introduction of the lesser known DC Superhero, Green Lantern, played by Ryan Reynolds. Despite mixed reaction to its first trailer and a lot of questions surrounding the decision to go with a CGI costume, we’re still very excited at what DCE, Warner Bros., cast and crew can bring to the table in this superhero space opera.
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!
Release Date: March 11, 2011
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Studio: Columbia Pictures
With brilliant marketing, incredible trailers and an epic introduction at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, Battle: Los Angeles has easily positioned itself as the leader of the recently crowded alien invasion genre. Touted as a mix of Black Hawk Down and District 9, Liebesman exciting war epic stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Lucas Till and Cory Hardrict, and we’re thinking it might pack a serious punch.
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Director: David Yates
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
It’s almost hard to believe that after all of these years, the adventures of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are coming to an end. Easily one of the most anticipated films of the year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 concludes the adaptation of the final novel in J.K. Rowling’s world famous series and the film franchise as a whole. It should make for a hell of an ending to the long-running movie franchise.
Release Date: May 6, 2011
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Studio: Marvel Studios, distributed by Paramount Pictures
Kicking off the summer season of 2011 is Marvel’s epic introduction of Thor, the God of Thunder. A comic many thought too difficult to adapt into live-action looks to be on the right track with Shakespearean director Kenneth Branagh bringing together some of the industry’s top talent in Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård and more to support the title star, Chris Hemsworth. Taking place both in Asgard and on Earth, expect many special appearances and a lead-in to The Avengers.
Release Date: July 22, 2011
Director: Joe Johnston
Studio: Marvel Studios, distributed by Paramount Pictures
While debuting after Thor, Captain America’s origin story takes place some 60 years prior during World War II. Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers opposite Hugo Weaving as the infamous Red Skull in the tale of a less-than-ordinary man becoming a supersoldier and symbol of America during a time of need. We eagerly await the birth of a hero and future leader of The Avengers.
There are many other notable movies that were left out, but we wanted to limit our list to our top 20 – so share your most anticipated movies of 2011 in the comments below and with us on Twitter @rob_keyes and @screenrant.