Hope springs eternal. As we round the bases of another year, it’s important to let the average and outright crappy slough off and realize that we’re all standing on the precipice of another year of movies. The future stretches out before us full of possibilities. That cheesy trailer you saw last week could end up producing your favorite film of the year. That epic blockbuster you’ve been waiting for could be bigger than you ever imagined.

There’s hope for everything, but there’s also expectation, which is why Rob Hunter, Neil Miller and Cole Abaius painstakingly put together our list of the 30 Most Anticipated Films of 2011. It’s the stuff we’re most looking forward to this year, put together when our hope and optimism is at its peak.

The list is in as-chronological-an-order as possible keeping in mind the TBAs and complete unknowns. All releases are subject to change, but it’s nice to see so many films spread out so evenly across the year. Even in January!

See if you find something to get your hopes up for.

The Cabin In the Woods

The When: This year… maybe.

The Who: Directed by Drew Goddard; written by Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon; starring Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth

The What: A group of friends head to the titular vacation retreat and begin to die horrible deaths. Goddard and Whedon’s script is an exciting and entertaining read, and if MGM gets off their ass and finally releases the damn thing, viewers will be in for a fresh and fun take on the genre. I expect some of the film’s fresh approach to be ruined with spoiler-filled marketing, but I also don’t see any way that could be avoided. So see it as soon as possible once it opens. -RH

The Way Back

The When: January 21st

The Who: Directed by Peter Weir; Written by Peter Weir and Keith R. Clarke; Starring Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, and some extremely cold prisoners

The What: Peter Weir is a master filmmaker, and the prospect of him tackling a story as grueling as a group of prisoners escaping from the unending Winter of Russia and trying to make it to safety through the rough terrain is a gloomy and beautiful one. Weir draws some insanely strong performances from actors, and the talent here pairs some veterans with some new comers with potential. It sounds brilliant, but I’d bring a coat to the theater. -CA

Unknown

The When: February 11th

The Who: Directed by Jaume Collet-Saura; written by Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell; starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn

The What: A man wakes from a coma and finds another man has taken his place at home and work and no one will believe he’s who he says he is. If that sounds confusing to you, just imagine how the guy feels. Neeson did quite well a couple years ago with his ‘man on a mission’ flick Taken, and judging by the trailer for this one it appears he’s up to his old, ass-kicking, head knocking self. Which is awesome. -RH

Drive Angry 3D

The When: February 25th

The Who: Directed by Patrick Lussier; Written by Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer; Starring Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, and William Fichtner

The What: Having cheated by already seeing this flick, it is with incredible ease that it makes it to this list. It is absurd, demented, and seeks to drop jaws every twenty minutes or so. Plus, William Fichtner has created a character that will become iconic – one that people will still quote from and imitate for years. Cage plays a father hunting down the Satanic cult that killed his daughter and stole her little baby – which they plan to sacrifice to the red guy with the bifurcated tail. As luck would have it, Cage’s character already knows Satan pretty well since he takes up permanent residence in Hell before busting out on his mission. -CA

Red State

The When: Sundance, then perhaps in March

The Who: Kevin Smith, John Goodman and a bunch of newcomers

The What: Even though we swear that we’re going to unfollow Kevin Smith on Twitter any day now, we can’t help but continue to listen out of pure interest in his next project. It’s a horror flick, a major departure for the traditionally funny (and recently unfunny) man. Above all things, that first teaser trailer was a zinger. It was visually on a level Smith has yet to reach, simple and chaotic. We’ll be damned if we weren’t hooked quickly by the thought of Smith changing directions and bringing us something new and fresh – especially if it gets him further away from Cop Out. Here’s hoping it’s scary as all hell, funny where it needs to be and everything that its director claims it is. -NM

Find out what the rest of the Spring has to offer (or View All for the whole list)


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