LIST: Most Anticipated Films of the Years, '05-'10

As opposed to a 'best films of the years' list, which, along with looking almost entirely different, would be cliché (or, at least, more cliché than I'm willing to be at the moment), I figured I'd provide six glimpses into what inspires me to actually fork over ever-increasing ticket prices, ranked from least to most anticipated.

2005, the earliest year included, was really when I started paying more attention to upcoming films where previously I survived on older DVDs and simply winged it come theater-going time. Well, I was attentive... but preoccupied. Only when something big on my radar like Collateral or Gangs of New York or... at a time... Queen of the Damned... went wide would I go out of my way.

Along this brief path we may see taste tendencies defy certain popularity grains to a fault and we'll learn that even when I seem to lose faith in Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds does not feature), I just can't seem to give up on Oliver Stone.

6. 2010 - Wall Street 2 (Oliver Stone)

We begin in the current year. Honestly, there ain't much catching my fancy this 365, which brings Stone's latest bubbling to the top. I actually think it looks fairly good, but I can't say I'm entirely confident in it. I can only hope, if anything, it's a return to form for the director after the lukewarm W and the utterly atrocious World Trade Center.

One thing's more or less guaranteed - Michael Douglas, in the only role I've yet to like him for, is back with a vengeance as the notorious Gordon Gekko. The edible Susan Sarandon also apparently has a bit part while Charlie Sheen is rumored to briefly appear.

That younger Sheen was in top form (as was his daddy) as the '87 original's lead, leaving big Blüchers to fill as Gekko's protegé. Is it finally time for me to take Shia "The Beef" LaBeouf seriously? I hope so, since he doesn't seem to be going away. I also hope this I-was-finally-drawn-back-to-the-project-for-a-poignant-reason business isn't Stone blowing more smoke up my keister like he did with... well, more on that later.

Runners-up (in order): Shutter Island, Brooklyn's Finest, Knight & Day, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, Resident Evil: Afterlife

5. 2008 - Choke (Clark Gregg)

I am a massive Chuck Palahniuk fan, and at the time this film was to see release, "Choke" just happened to by my favorite novel of his (it has since been trumped by "Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey"). A love of the literature was more than enough to push this to the forefront of my moviegoing to-do list, even in the face of what looked to be a dreadfully sub-par production.

In many ways the film succeeds in capturing the book's depraved, grody aesthetic, but in many more ways fails to expound upon its overall thrusts by breezing through important meditations on addiction and society's perverse underbelly. Instead, we focus on inconsequential plot points and shock value that is rendered mostly un-shocking by the fact that its significance has been stripped.

In the end, not a terrible film... just not one to be considered a worthy adaptation of its source material by a long shot.

Runners-up (in order): Mongol, The Wrestler, My Name is Bruce, Miracle at St. Anna, W

4. 2009 - Friday the 13th (Marcus Nispel)

This remake's release could not have come at a more ideal time for me. Yeah, I would have greatly preferred a proper continuation of the series (whatever installment gets cranked out next could have been called "Part 13" and that's not to mention my own ideas for a Jason trilogy: "The Revenge of Tommy Jarvis" starring Corey Feldman, "Jason Voorhees & the Argonauts" and "Jason Takes Camelot") but I was pumped to get another chance at seeing my favorite slasher spill teen guts across the silver screen.

Anyway, in late '08 I finally got around to taking in the Jason films I had yet to see (Part 3 through Jason Goes to Hell) and boy, did I ever have a new favorite franchise on my hands. Being in the thick of Voorhees fanboyhood brought my anticipation for this to crazy heights, even with knowledge of how Nispel's Pathfinder had turned out (stock footage of an avalanche, really?).

The film delivered to an auditorium packed with precisely the intended audience, including the guy seated next to me, ooohing and aaahing with the best of 'em. The only better time I had at a multiplex that year was with My Bloody Valentine 3D. Admittedly the experience soured a bit on DVD... but it's still an amusing and affectionate throwback to the original series. If only they hadn't reshot the Pamela scenes for the opening and added in that ridiculous finding-the-mask bit, we could have had a genuine "Part 12" on our hands. Even as I make these minor complaints, though, I know the main reason behind the reboot had to be the potent box-office combination of brand recognition and fresh audience potential (it paid off, surpassing record horror openings before dropping over 80% of its audience in its second week).

Runners-up (in order): The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Away We Go, Black Dynamite, Where the Wild Things Are

3. 2005 - Jarhead (Sam Mendes)

Ah, '05... what a great year for movies. The Libertine, The Weather Man, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Junebug, Elizabethtown, Thumbsucker... I have to cut myself off or I'll forget to write about Jarhead.

I have one thing to blame for my feverish anticipation of this one, and that thing is not Mendes' success with Road to Perdition in '02 or even Jake Gyllenhaal's Santa-hat-sheathed manhood... that thing is the song "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West. Kanye friggin' West. H'oh, boy. That song fit Jarhead's trailer so perfectly that the match of music and motion picture made for the most excited I've ever been by a promotional campaign.

The theatrical experience was hindered by a man to my left shouting "Semper-fi!" every five minutes and another in front of me constantly warning the characters of IEDs, but the real disappointment was the absolute lack of anything cinematically eventful. Interestingly, in spite of that boredom, I ultimately view the film as a success. Just like the central band of soldiers, I was drawn to an event with the promise of action, and just like those soldiers I was let down by the lack of delivery. It was an 'experience', and one I give the credit of being probably the closest to the real Desert Storm I'll ever get (not that I would have wanted to be there, or anything...).

Runners-up (in order): ElizabethtownThe Devil's RejectsThe New WorldLord of WarTransporter 2

2. 2006 - World Trade Center (Oliver Stone)

'06 was the year I spent in the Mammoth Hot Springs community of Yellowstone National Park, 80 miles away from the nearest reputable multiplex in Bozeman, Montana. If I wanted to see something, I had to make darn sure it was worth not only the ticket price but the gas money and the alternative use of a day perchance better purposed hiking through one of the most beautiful places in the world. Thankfully, it was another great year for film - likely the best of the decade (Little Children, Miami Vice, The Departed, Babel, etcetera).

World Trade Center, unfortunately, turned out as not only the worst film I took in over that time but by far the worst film I've seen from Stone (and I've gone through most of his catalogue) or many other filmmakers, for that matter. Before seeing it, though, man... did I ever champion it. I even ranted on my Rotten Tomatoes journal, "Have Some Cake", about people needing to give the flick a fighting chance - with all the press conferences Stone had held, implying potential conspiracy theories, I was sure we were being primed for another JFK (although I actually have yet to see JFK itself).

I dragged my boss up to Bozeman and ended up feeling worse than the time I slept through The Punisher after convincing some friends that seeing Kill Bill Volume 2 a second time in one day didn't sound appealing for some unjust reason, and that Thomas Jane's awesomeness would make up for a lack of back-to-back Darryl Hannah eyeball-squishings (Jane is indeed awesome... just... Punisher's not a good example). In my defense, I had been avoiding World Trade Center's promotional material... maybe if I saw a trailer I would have been shown the light at the top of the rubble without having to suffer through two hours of right-wing, Christian melodrama.

Runners-up (in order): Miami Vice, Mission: Impossible III, A Scanner Darkly, The Departed, A Prairie Home Companion

1. 2007 - There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Unlike '05 and '06, this was a pretty bland year for movies. Perhaps I felt that way, though, because when it came to the cinematic realm I could do little but think of There Will Be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson is easily one of the very best directors working today and seeing him collaborate with Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis) was orgasmic. I have never looked forward to a film as much as this one... when it was in limited release and people who weren't me had seen it, I was tantalized with jealousy.

I finally got to live the greatness with a good buddy and we both felt we had gone through one of the most epic theatrical experiences of our lives. Where Anderson had previously drawn from his idols Robert Altman and Jean-Luc Godard, here he was in Stanley Kubrick territory to the point where by the final scene, one might think ol' Kube had risen from the grave and taken the reigns.

For some reason, perhaps intimidation of such awesomenosity, I have yet to return to There Will Be Blood. Soon. Maybe.

Runners-up (in order): Resident Evil: Extinction, Grindhouse, Halloween, Eastern Promises, Lions for Lambs