It's fun to think about what's coming out and which movies I'm most interested in, then compare that at the end of the year to what I actually enjoyed. For instance, even though last year was a really good one for enjoyable movies, my favorites weren't the ones I was most looking forward to.
Of my 20 Most Anticipated last year, only nine of them turned out to be Top 20 movies for me. Those were Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, The Kid, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, It 2, How to Train Your Dragon 3, The Lego Movie 2, and Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
Of the other 11, I lost interest in seeing four of them (Jumanji 3, Zombieland 2, the animated Addams Family movie, and the Charlie's Angels remake) in the theater because of trailers or reviews. Then there were six that simply failed to crack my Top 20, but when I look at what those are (Rise of Skywalker, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Hellboy, John Wick 3, Men in Black: International, and Shazam), I enjoyed all of them on some level. There was just a bunch of better stuff that I didn't see coming.
If you're doing the math, that leaves one movie unaccounted for. That's because one of my most anticipated last year was The New Mutants which got pushed back to 2020. And sure enough, it's on this year's list again.
20. Last Night in Soho
I'm not a huge Edgar Wright fan, but I do like his movies quite a bit (Hot Fuzz being most my cup of tea). The draws here are the horror elements and Anya Taylor-Joy's involvement. Her name's going to pop up at least a couple of more times on this list. I'm sure that some day she'll pick a movie to be in that I don't at least think is interesting, but it hasn't happened yet. She is to Present Day Michael what Johnny Depp was to '90s Michael.
Dune adaptations are always super flawed, but fascinating nonetheless. Denis Villeneuve is a super interesting filmmaker and I'm eager to see how he interprets Herbert's story.
I'm deeply interested in this new phase at Marvel Studios. With Endgame behind us, they seem to be starting over and rebuilding, which I think is super smart. I'm very very curious to see how Eternals fits into that.
I know nothing about the characters in the comics and care even less, but that's a cool challenge and I'm reminded that most of the world felt the same way about Guardians of the Galaxy before those movies came out. I'm also very interested in Chloé Zhao as a filmmaker and she's assembled a cool cast, including Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, and the Other Stark Boys: Kit Harington and Richard Madden.
17. First Cow
Lately, A24's logo is all a movie needs to at least get my attention. The stuff they produce is always artfully made, compellingly told, and usually has a cool genre twist. In this case, the genre is Western and the story is about a cook for a bunch of fur trappers in Oregon who teams up with a Chinese immigrant to start a new business that somehow involves that cow.
16. Jungle Cruise
One of my favorite Disney rides gets a movie starring two of my favorite actors these days.
15. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
I've liked all three of the Ghostbusters movies so far on some level, but I'm not crazy about any of them. The blend of comedy and horror has never been just right for me, but the concept is great and with some tweaking to boost the chills, I could get right on board. Afterlife seems like it may be headed that direction.
14. The New Mutants
This keeps getting pushed back, which doesn't bode well, but I like these characters in the comics and I especially like that the movie stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik and Maisie Williams as Wolfsbane. There's been some speculation that the delays have in part been due to Disney's figuring out how to incorporate it into the MCU somehow to make it the first X-Men movie as part of that rather than the last X-Men movie from the defunct Fox universe. I hope that's the case, but whatever universe it's a part of, the horror angle sounds great. I'm rooting for it.
13. The Gentlemen
I'm always into Guy Ritchie doing his Guy Ritchie thing. I love that this includes Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant, and Matthew McConaughey.
12. Birds of Prey
Margot Robbie was definitely the best thing about Suicide Squad, so I was mildly interested in more of her as Harley Quinn, but I didn't get excited until I realized that Renee Montoya and Cassie Cain are making their live-action debuts and that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is playing Huntress. And oh crap, I just now connected that Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Black Canary) was Rosalee from Underground and now I kind of want to bump this up to Number 1.
11. Gretel & Hansel
Everything about this sounds so cool. One of my favorite fairy tales as a horror story with Gretel as the older, main character protecting her little brother and the Borg Queen Alice Krige herself as the witch. I'm afraid that I may be too excited for it.
10. Death on the Nile
Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express was fantastic and I'm eager for more. The rest of the cast isn't quite as exciting this time, but Gal Gadot is enough all by herself.
Anya Taylor-Joy in a Jane Austen adaptation.
8. Bill & Ted Face the Music
I'm nervous that it can't be as good as the other two films, but it's encouraging that this has been a passion project of Alex Winter's pretty much since Bogus Journey wrapped. The idea of it doesn't feel like a late in the game cash grab, but like a long-standing dream finally come true. I hope the movie feels that way, too.
7. The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel is a great gothic story for all ages, so I'm always excited by a new adaptation. And this one has Colin Firth in it.
6. Godzilla vs. Kong
Let them fight.
5. Wonder Woman 1984
I have questions and concerns, but I'm not about to start distrusting Patty Jenkins or Gal Gadot at this point.
4. The Turning
Another classic gothic novel gets adapted. I read Henry James' The Turn of the Screw a couple of years ago and my first reaction was that I kind of hated it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are multiple ways of interpreting it and that the more mundane interpretations are ironically the more haunting ones. I wish I could read it again before the film comes out, but I know I'm not going to have time. I'm very eager about the setting and atmosphere though and curious to see what approach the film takes in interpreting the novel.
3. Enola Holmes
Millie Bobby Brown plays Sherlock Holmes' younger sister with Henry Cavill as Holmes and Helena Bonham Carter as their mom. Cavill doesn't seem like natural casting for Holmes, but I'm not complaining.
2. No Time to Die
I mostly enjoyed SPECTRE, but I didn't love it the way I love the other Daniel Craig Bond movies (yes, even Quantum of Solace). I'm assuming this is Craig's last one and am hoping it's a super strong end to his run.
1. Black Widow
One of my favorite Marvel characters in any medium, but I've loved Scarlett Johansson in the role since Iron Man 2. Seeing a whole movie with her sounds fantastic and I also love the supporting cast of Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and especially (thanks to Little Women) Florence Pugh. And if this is setting up Pugh as a new Black Widow to move forward in the MCU, even better.