10. Guardians of the Galaxy
When You Can See It: August 1st
The Hook: And here’s that new breed now. It’s slightly telling that this beat out Captain America because it echoes a sentiment that we’re all more than ready for Marvel to move on. They’ve done a fantastic job slowly building their universe from the metal helmet up, but it’s impossible to ignore the next big thing on the horizon. Because it’s a sentient tree hanging with a talking raccoon. We love how bonkers this is, and we also love that they’ve turned to James Gunn for it. A perfect pick.
When You Can See It: May 16th
The Hook: Gareth Edwards did so much work on Monsters that he’s earned the opportunity to deliver an old monster for a new audience. It’ll be particularly intriguing to see it a year after we watched the kaiju of Pacific Rim tearing our world apart. If the challenge for blockbuster filmmakers is scale, Edwards has a unique advantage and challenge ahead of him.
8. How to Train Your Dragon 2
When You Can See It: June 13th
The Hook: Our first adventure with Toothless and Hiccup was a surprise delight, so this is a welcome one. Plus, beyond the typical expectations for animated sequels, it’s encouraging to see them jump ahead in time for the story (and to keep the same writer/director who surprised us).
7. Monuments Men
When You Can See It: February 7th
The Hook: Here’s something interesting. Maybe it was the trailer, or maybe it was the buzz, but the George Clooney pro-art, anti-Nazi picture was on last year’s anticipated list, but it wasn’t this low in the count. Somehow, we’re looking forward to it even more.
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past
When You Can See It: May 23rd
The Hook: Another sequel to a surprise hit, this return into the mutant world sees Bryan Singer back in the mix. That’s overwhelmingly cool, and if they can juggle the time travel element alongside a crowd of old familiars and newcomers, this could be one for the ages.
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
When You Can See It: July 11th
The Hook: Can we get Andy Serkis that Oscar now? There’s a sort of pattern emerging here with sequels to surprisingly great movies, but while the inclusion of Gary Oldman is exciting, and the continuation of a terrible saga gets the heart beating, it’s really Matt Reeves as director that’s most electrifying. After Cloverfield and Let the Right One In, an intimate monster movie seems perfect for his talents.
4. Inherent Vice
When You Can See It: 2014
The Hook: Paul Thomas Anderson directed it. Need more? Why? You did this with David Fincher, too. The point is that Anderson is delivering a detective story (set, like all movies are legally required to be now, in the 1970s) with Joaquin Phoenix, Jena Malone, Josh Brolin and more. BASED ON A THOMAS PYNCHON NOVEL. Just absolutely incredible.
3. 22 Jump Street
When You Can See It: June 13th
The Hook: Phil Lord and Chris Miller nab another spot on the list, fulfilling our theme of sequels to surprisingly fun movies and continuing to prove their ability to beat back reboot cynicism. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill owned 21 Jump Street, making it a smart, funny send-up that could have been a bland nightmare in the wrong hands. It’s time for Another 48 Hrs. to go to college.
2. Grand Budapest Hotel
When You Can See It: March 7th
The Hook: It’s like Wes Anderson read a book about Wes Anderson before writing the script on a mirror. Everything about this feels like Royal Tenenbaum is about to roll up and ask if his room is ready. Regardless, Anderson is on a whimsical hot streak from Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, all the usual suspects are here, and so are we — camping outside the box office waiting to buy tickets because we’ve never heard of the internet.
When You Can See It: Not soon enough (November 7th)
The Hook: Let’s try this one more time: Christopher Nolan directed it. Need more? No? Didn’t think so.