Pundit Poll: Experts Name This Summer's Most Anticipated Films

With summer movie season nigh, Movieline turned to the critics to see which blockbusters and potential sleepers are at the top of the experts' most anticipated lists. From star-powered vehicles to long-awaited sequels, space superheroes to Spielbergian sci-fi, our pundits' picks ran the gamut, but one film emerged the clear front-runner. Is it the same event movie you can't wait to see?


"I'll punt on both dumb blockbusters and even Larry Crowne, the latter of which is sincerely intriguing to me to see Tom Hanks back behind the camera -- both because I think he's got some talent there, and in half measure for the way in which he has embraced Twitter/social media during pre-production and filming. I'll instead say I'm looking forward to Friends with Benefits. Although we've already seen this concept on display earlier this year with No Strings Attached, director Will Gluck has assembled a great, game cast, and with both Fired Up! and the delightful Easy A, he's proven himself both a superb writer and craftsman of jokes but also a master of tonal authenticity and consistency, problems with which sink so many studio comedies these days." -- Brent Simon, Film Critic, Screen International

super8630_200.jpg"The number one film on my summer radar is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two. I'm a huge fan of both the books and the movies, and I can't wait to see how they pull off finally wrapping the story. Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favorite of the adaptations thus far, but I have high hopes that Parts One and Two of Deathly Hallows, taken together, will feel satisfyingly complete. Bring on the popcorn." -- Kim Voynar, Features Editor, Movie City News

super8630_200.jpg"I've got my doubts about The Help -- the novel is sprawling and could get messy on the screen, and director Tate Taylor is so new it's impossible to know what to expect one way or another. But the dynamite cast they've assembled and truly meaningful subject matter means that, no matter what, when the movie comes out in August it'll be a welcome break from the testosterone-fueled stuff that dominates summer. Hey, Emma Stone hasn't let me down yet!" -- Katey Rich, Managing Editor, Cinema Blend

super8630_200.jpg"I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit that the summer movie I'm most eagerly awaiting is an unabashed blockbuster: Cowboys & Aliens. Indeed, I was already looking forward to it before I interviewed several folks connected with the film for a cover story I'm writing for (no kidding) Cowboys & Indians Magazine. But something co-scriptwriter Alex Kurtzman said really boosted the must-see quotient for me: 'What we've done, essentially, is set up this very serious, very stark, very dangerous world with all the conventions that apply to a traditional Western. And into the middle of that world, we drop aliens -- and then have people react the way people in that world would have reacted.' Cowabunga." -- Joe Leydon, Critic/Correspondent, Variety

super8630_200.jpg"If anything other than Green Lantern were coming out I'd double-down all my film school cred on Tree of Life. But no fantasia of Proustian imagery set to classical music can compare with the Guardians of the Universe and their 3600 sectors of space cops. Give me Ryan Reynolds in his eerily skin-like green suit, chicken-fish aliens and the power of Will to construct translucent machine guns. My intention this summer is to eat a bag of popcorn the size of a Greek ocean liner and freak out to intergalactic superhero antics." -- Jordan Hoffman, Movies Editor, UGO.com

super8630_200.jpg"I want Bridesmaids to be great. (And rumor has it, it is.) But even more than that, I want Bridesmaids to make $100 million dollars so Hollywood will green-light a dozen other female-driven comedies where ladies talk about more than Manolos and men. Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Tina Fey, Lucy Punch, Isla Fisher, Jennifer Coolidge, Kristen Schaal, Rashida Jones, Lizzy Caplan, Gillian Jacobs and Allison Brie are kick-ass and ready to conquer." -- Amy Nicholson, Editor-in-Chief, Box Office Magazine

super8630_200.jpg"Need to see really badly because of guaranteed monkeys: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Zookeeper."

"Need to see really badly because of probable monkeys: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Film Socialisme." -- Dave White, Film Critic, Movies.com/Host, Linoleum Knife podcast

Next: The number one most anticipated summer movie in Movieline's Pundit Poll...

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  • Mark says:

    I don't get the JJ Abrams love. Mission Impossible 3 and Star Trek were both seriously flawed, the guy has no discernible style of his own, completely interchangeable with a dozen other directors. He can't do his own thing, first he takes on Mission Impossible, then Star Trek and now Amblin... to compare him with Spielberg and Cameron is ridiculous. I guess critics are an easy lay these days. I'm with sci-fi author China Miéville:
    "I've never met [JJ Abrams]. I am not a member of his fan club or anti-fan club. I disliked Cloverfield a very great deal. I disliked Star Trek intensely. I thought it was terrible. And I think part of my problem is that I feel like the relationship between JJ Abrams' projects and geek culture is one of relatively unloving repackaging - sort of cynical. I taste contempt in the air. Now I'm not a child - I know that all big scifi projects are suffused with the contempt of big money for its own target audience. But there's something about [JJ's projects] that makes me particularly uncomfortable. As compared to somebody like Joss Whedon, who - even when there are misfires - I feel likes me and loves me and is on some cultural level my brother and comrade. And I don't feel that way about JJ Abrams."

  • Tommy Marx says:

    I was a big fan of the Star Trek movie, but that doesn't say much. I was never a fan of the franchise, so I went in with no "fan boy" expectations.
    On the other hand, I thought J.J. Abrams did a horrible job with the Alias series. He started out with a great idea and a wonderful cast, then halfway through the second season completely destroyed the series. More annoyingly, he made up a random mythology that changed virtually every episode and never made any sense.
    As for Lost, unless I'm seriously mistaken (very possible!), he helped set up the initial plots, but for the most part was there in name only.
    I think J.J. Abrams is talented, but I think he is horrible when it comes to creating a realistic mythology. Which is why I'm actually very interested in his new movie. He's doing an original story with no complicated mythology or ties to any other franchises. I think he's strongest when he can tell a story with a beginning, middle and end.

  • j'accuse! says:

    You and this China dude must be great at parties.

  • Angela says:

    I'm with Joe Leydon on this one. Everything I've read about Cowboys and Aliens has me extremely curious...just curious enough to buy a ticket!

  • ILDC says:

    Fired Up!? Good?