2009's Most Anticipated Films

We're only getting ready for November but it's never too early to take a glance at the year's worth of movies that awaits us after December 31st. After all, the year is coming to a close, and for the most part 2008 has been awfully weak. Bad movies. Bad gas prices. Bad economy. Bad Scarlett Johansson getting hitched. It was just bad news all around. But that's what celebrating the new year is all about, and this year we're bringing out the tray of shots early. Join me as I take a peek at ten movies I'm most anticipating in 2009.

1. Avatar

Release date: 12/18/09

Once upon a time, James Cameron kicked unholy ass. Then he made the biggest movie of all time that won about eight billion Oscars and all of a sudden, he's persona non grata in some fanboy circles. He's been busy developing technology and making the occasional documentary here and there so some people may have forgotten he's one of our strongest filmmakers.

I haven't. And this sci-fi 3-D adventure might single-handedly open the floodgates for tri-dimensional big-screen events. We've been hearing about this movie for over ten years now and it's finally being realized by a guy who knows only one way to do something: full throttle.

2. Watchmen

Release date: 03/06/09

Between those great character posters, the kick-ass trailer, the Spike Award footage, Kevin Smith rubbing it in Cole's face about seeing the movie twice, and the recent reports from the Portland screening ... I don't know how anyone familiar with the project can't be excited. And if you're angrier than all hell that I didn't put it at number one, well, I can at least understand. This movie just might reshape the way we look at the genre (though The Dark Knight might have something to say about that, what with its Oscar chances shining evenly on the horizon).

Audiences expecting just another dumb cape-and-masks feature will either be pleasantly surprised or severely pissed. That is, of course, assuming Zack Snyder stayed true to Alan Moore's vision. Yes, the ending has changed but not the spirit of the shocking finale. In fact, I think I like the new ending better than the book's. It's very Dark Knight-ish, only grander ... bleaker. Yeah, this sounds like it will do just fine.

3. Inglourious Basterds

Release date: TBD

It's very simple: I love Tarantino. I'm willing to accept the fact that I am in love with the guy's flicks (even Jackie Brown!!!!). This past weekend I put in Kill Bill Vol. 2 and ... yup, the hyperbole starts bangin' on the ol' noggin. I want to shout from a mountain how great the saga is and how silly anyone else is who doesn't see it. I can't help it. And yes, perhaps it's irrational. But when I watch the guy's movies I feel in every frame the love the guy has for cinema. I love movies, but Tarantino makes me love and appreciate them even more. There is genuine joy in his exploits, and this time he's exploiting/satirizing/loving the World War II men-on-a-mission movie. Inglourious Basterds is about a group of Jewish-American soldiers "chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis" (IMDB). Sign me up!

Star Trek XI4. Star Trek

Star date: 05/08/09

What a bummer we don't get to see J.J. Abrams's take on Trek this Christmas. What's another five months? A great deal. But we don't always get what we want Christmas day, so we'll just have to wait until May. The good news is we'll have season five of Lost to keep us at bay. Yeah, I'm a Star Trek fan (I hesitate to call myself a Trekkie). But would my excitement be anywhere near as high if, say, Brett Ratner were attached? Er, no. Abrams has a good glow about him these days. Like a winged-angel, he is.

5. Public Enemies

Release date: 07/01/09

When Michael Mann calls, I come a-running -- and this time he's tackling a full-blown cops-and-robbers epic. Not sold yet? How's about Johnny Depp as John Dillinger? Let me throw some more names at you. Christian Bale stars as Melvin Purvis, the F.B.I. man who reported to J. Edgar Hoover and chased the likes of Dillinger, "Baby Face" Nelson, "Pretty Boy" Floyd and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis. Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Crudup, Leelee Sobrieski and Marion Cotillard all co-star. And if it helps, Stephen Dorff.

Up

6. Up

Release date: 05/29/09

I'm going to be honest. I don't know anything about this movie really. I know it's about an old guy. And Pixar made it. Yup, that's all I need.

7. Shutter Island

Release date: 10/02/09

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio continue their man-crushes for each other, this time by way of novelist Dennis Lehane's (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone) world of crime and moral conundrums. If this isn't one of 2009's best, I'd be very surprised.

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Release date: 05/01/09

Just when I started to sour over the whole X-Men franchise, that Comic Con footage leaked, and it has me seriously pumped. Wolverine's origin tale is an interesting one and mixing it with the Weapon X story should make for some great entertainment. But is it me or is May 2009 looking awfully crowded? No? Not yet?

Terminator: Salvation

9. Terminator Salvation

Release date: 05/22/09

How's about now? If Kirk, Logan and John Connor can play along and keep those Pixar folk out of trouble, we might have a pretty magnificent time kicking off next summer. I made a terrible mistake a few months ago and read something I shouldn't have read about this movie: the ending. However, it's made me even more excited to see what will almost certainly be an invigorated franchise. I don't even care that McG is directing. Bale is Connor. I'm in.

10. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Release date: 07/17/09

One of J.K. Rowling's strongest entries finally hits the big screen next summer -- a full nine months after its original release date. I don't think the decision to move the film means that it's in trouble or anything, but it certainly is confusing. These movies bank just fine during the holiday season. Did they really need to push it to the summer?

And that, as they say, is that. There's a slew of other films I considered including on this list (The Bruno movie, The Green Zone, The Informant, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to name just a few). G.I. Joe, I am sad to say, was not one of them. I just can't put my trust into the guy responsible for Van Helsing. But I could be wrong. No doubt 2009 will have it's share of surprises and disappointments. Until then...