As we while away the last few days and hours of 2011, looking back upon all the great, unforgettable fare that descended upon our cineplexes this year, we can't help but get excited for what the new year will bring us.
We might not get another "Harry Potter," but there's a lot coming down the pike to fill the void: a new "Alien"-esque film in "Prometheus," the gritty and ruthless "Hunger Games," the superhero spectacle "The Avengers," and a brand new Batman, via "The Dark Knight Rises." Here's a brief rundown of what we hope delivers on the hype and makes our "Best of 2012" lists this time next year.
A Successful "Avengers" Assembly
I have a lot of high hopes for movies in 2012. I need "Prometheus" to be as awesome as it appears to be, and Christopher Nolan has to send Batman off in style, but perhaps my biggest concern comes in the form of "The Avengers." Bringing Earth's Mightiest Heroes together under one cinematic roof is a lofty idea, and one that could easily explode in Marvel's face. A successful "Avengers" would mean ambitious, world-building films that extend across multiple franchises can exist. An "Avengers" that fails both critically and commercially is nothing short of a gut shot for comics on the big screen. Too much effort and passion, both from filmmakers and fans, has been put into "The Avengers" over the past few years. Marvel absolutely has to get it right ... and I've got all my fingers, toes and what-have-you's crossed that they will. - Josh Wigler
Taylor Kitsch Solidifies His Movie-Star Status
Fans of the dearly departed drama "Friday Night Lights" know Taylor Kitsch as big Tim Riggins, the football-playing, bad-boy-with-a-big-heart from Dillon, Texas. But if you've never spent four quarters with the state champion Panthers, you may not be well-acquainted with Kitsch's sizeable acting chops (and even bigger biceps). After all, his big-screen turns ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "The Bang Bang Club") haven't left such an indelible mark as his TV alter ego. But that could (and should) all change in 2012, as the 30-year-old headlines two big-budget popcorn flicks: Disney's "John Carter" and the boardgame-cum-potential-blockbuster "Battleship." Here's hoping clear eyes and full hearts really can't lose. - Amy Wilkinson
"The Hunger Games" Takes Out "Twilight"
The end of the "Twilight" film franchise is bittersweet. We'll miss our favorite vampires and werewolves, but 2012 marks the arrival of a new franchise that deserves just as much attention and adoration as Stephenie Meyer's fangtastic fantasyland. "The Hunger Games" is not "Twilight" and shouldn't ever be compared as such, but it deserves that blockbuster status. This is a story about survival, self-reliance and discovery, with a female protagonist who is strong, resilient, independent, intelligent and real. In short, Suzanne Collins' creation has everything modern youth-targeted fiction lacks. I pray to the movie powers for Gary Ross' big-screen adaptation to be the biggest success story of the year and that the fan fervor for the "Games" doubles that of "Twilight." - Kara Warner
Luck For "Looper"
Looking ahead to 2012, it's impossible to not stop in awe when considering the sheer number of blockbusters I can't wait to see. This is "stars aligning" material. We're talking Batman, Bilbo and Bond, but if I have my way, people will turn out in droves to see a movie they probably haven't heard of yet: Rian Johnson's "Looper." A sci-fi/crime movie hybrid, "Looper" takes place in the near future where mobsters send their enemies back in time where waiting hitmen finish the job. In the film, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the younger and older versions of the same character, and if that and the story don't completely sell it, I'm afraid you're lost, my friend. Test screenings left critics raving, and Johnson has made consistently interesting work since his indie debut "Brick." If there is any justice at the movies, people will see "Looper." - Kevin Sullivan