15. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (March 8)
More than 70 years after Dorothy first dropped in on the wonderful world of Oz, this new big-budget, effects-heavy prequel will tell the story of just who was the Wizard and how did he get to have such a big head. James Franco stars as Oscar Diggs, a low-rent magician from Kansas whose hot air balloon gets swept away to the multicolored land of yellow brick roads and emerald cities. There he falls under the spell of three witches, played by Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz. Director Sam Raimi (the original “Spider-Man” trilogy) brings the untold story to the screen in 3D.
14. THE HEAT (April 5)
After her Academy Award-nominated breakout turn in “Bridesmaids,” Melissa McCarthy has been a hot property in Hollywood, and so she’s got two starring roles coming up this year. First she’s paired with Jason Bateman in February’s “Identity Thief,” and that trailer looks plenty funny. But then in April she’s a cop who plays by her own rules who gets partnered with Sandra Bullock’s uptight FBI agent. “The Heat” is a rare female-driven buddy cop comedy, and since it’s also from the director of “Bridesmaids,” it’s sure to bring the funny.
13. ELYSIUM (August 9)
Director Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 debut feature “District 9” had a low budget, no recognizable stars, and a story drawn from the politics of his native South Africa. And it was still one of the most exciting and innovative science fiction films of the decade. Now he’s back with a bigger budget, giant stars, and a story that hits close to home. In the future, the “haves” live on a high-tech space station called Elysium, while the “have-nots” are stuck on the ruins of Earth. One average guy (Matt Damon) accepts a life-or-death mission to get on board.
12. THE LONE RANGER (May 31)
Hi-ho, Silver! The producer, director, writers, and star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy are taking their act from the high seas to the Wild West. Johnny Depp is Tonto, the Native American scout who discovers injured Texas Ranger John Reid (played by Armie Hammer). Tonto cleans Reid up, gives him a black mask, and together the ride off to help those in need. The last attempt to bring the Western hero to the big screen, 1981’s “The Legend of the Lone Ranger,” was a legendary flop, but hopefully the “Pirates” crew can make their trademark blend of action and laughs work this time around.
11. THE GREAT GATSBY (May 10)
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless novel has been adapted for the screen four times before, but if anyone can capture the style, excess, and heartbreak of the story it would have to be “Moulin Rouge” director Baz Lurhmann. Leonardo DiCaprio is perfectly cast as the handsome, debonair, and deceptive Gatsby, and Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan has just the right combination of charm and fragility to play Daisy Buchannan. And the whole spectacle is presented in 3D. It’s not your typical summer movie, which is partially why we’re so intrigued.