The 29 Most Anticipated Movies of 2009

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20. The Wolfman
      Directed by: Joe Johnston
      Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt

Benicio Del Toro looks sort of wolfish normally, so kudos to director Joe Johnston for casting him in his remake of the 1940s horror classic. A solid supporting cast always helps, but The Wolfman is worth anticipating because of Del Toro. He's made precious few films since his Oscar win for Traffic in 2000, but he always plays each role with gusto.

19. Green Zone
      Directed by: Paul Greengrass
      Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan

Green Zone's best-selling source material, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, should be aces for Mystic River scribe Brian Helgeland to adapt. And in United 93, director Paul Greengrass proved he could gracefully handle the most difficult of subject matters. That touch will be needed for yet another film about Iraq, a subject moviegoers have routinely ignored (Stop-Loss, In the Valley of Elah, The Lucky Ones).

18. Sherlock Holmes
      Directed by: Guy Ritchie
      Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams

Robert Downey Jr. had an incredible comeback in 2008, and that looks to continue with Guy Ritchie's re-working of Sherlock Holmes. (Downey Jr. also has The Soloist, but that looks schmaltzy.) It will be interesting to see if Ritchie can regain some of his luster after a series of disappointments. It's also been a while since Jude Law or Rachel McAdams have been in a hit, so the timing seems right for all involved.

17. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
      Directed by: Terry Gilliam 
      Starring: Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell 

The time travel fantasy Imaginarium will be Heath Ledger's final screen appearance, in a role that will also be played by A-listers Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell because of his untimely death. Whether Imaginarium will turn out to be anything other than a curio remains to be seen, but you can't argue with the talent involved.

16. Nine
      Directed by: Rob Marshall
      Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz

Is there anything Daniel Day-Lewis can't do? In Nine—a musical inspired by Fellini's —he'll sing, he'll dance, he'll drink your milkshake, he'll do it all. Nicole Kidman has already said people will be astonished when they hear his pipes. Even without Day-Lewis, Nine would be worth watching for its smattering of female stars, which also includes Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and Judi Dench. 

15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
      Directed by: David Yates
      Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint

Warner Bros. broke hearts last year when they delayed Harry Potter from November to July, so the anticipation of the film should be at an all-time high. Order of the Phoenix director David Yates returns to direct this sixth installment, which should provide veteran British actors Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman some juicy scenes as their characters take a larger part in the story.

14. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
      Directed by: Wes Anderson 
      Featuring the voices of: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray

A change of pace has been a long time coming for Wes Anderson, and a stop-motion animation adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book definitely qualifies. Dahl hasn't always translated to the screen smoothly, but there's hope for Anderson's quirky/indie sensibilites to lend the story a certain offbeat humor. 
13. The Road
      Directed by: John Hillcoat
      Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce

John Hillcoat's last film, the criminally underseen Western The Proposition, was beautifully shot. This adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic tale should be too. And after A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and Appaloosa, Viggo Mortensen has to be considered one of the best actors in the business. Maybe The Road will land him an Oscar? 

12. Funny People
      Directed by: Judd Apatow 
      Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana

Judd Apatow's name has been branded on slew of recent movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, Drillbit Taylor), but Funny People is only his third directorial effort, after The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. This one seems a bit heavier in theme—Sandler will play a comedian with a terminal illness who takes a young upstart (Rogen) under his wing as his opening act. Sandler can thrive if given the right director (i.e. Paul Thomas Anderson in Punch-Drunk Love).  

11. Where the Wild Things Are
      Directed by: Spike Jonze 
      Starring: Max Records, Catherine Keener

It's been a long time coming, but Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are should finally see the light of day in 2009 (it's been plagued by production trouble). The adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic is said to be a combination of live-action, CGI and animatronics. It's tough to visualize how this all will work, but Jonze is a mega-talent so there's light at the end of this tunnel. That is, assuming it finally reaches theaters.

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