It’s time yet again for my eagerly anticipated, widely respected, popularly demanded, compulsively obsessed over annual list of films coming out next year that I’m most excited about. OK, maybe it’s none of those things, but nonetheless, what follows are the films in order of release coming out in 2011 that I’m dying to see.

Rango (Paramount)

This computer-animated film, directed by Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski and featuring the voice talent of Johnny Depp, is about a timid chameleon trying to be a hero in a Wild West town full of creepy critters. Everyone knows I’m a big Pirates fan, and I’m excited to see Verbinski go beyond those films and craft something original.

Sucker Punch (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Zack Snyder is a great stylist, and up until now he’s directed one remake and three adaptations. Sucker Punch marks his first original film that he has also written. The story has something to do with a mental institution and the female patients using their imaginations to escape. If you watch the trailer you’ll probably feel like you just had an acid flashback. Based on how many scantily clad, half-naked women are in the trailer, I can tell that Snyder and I think alike.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney)

After completing a trilogy of Pirates films, Gore Verbinski understandably decided to part ways with the franchise. Stepping into the director’s chair is Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha). This installment sees Captain Jack Sparrow going after the fountain of youth. I loved the last two films, and I hope Stranger Tides holds up with the rest of them.

The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight)

Between 1973 and today, director Terrence Malick has made five films. He’s not exactly cranking them out. He’s like that quiet guy who never speaks, but when he does, you better listen because it’s going to be profound. And so does it appear to be with his new film starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Very little is known at the moment about the plot aside from that it focuses around a family living in the 1950s, but I dare you to look at the trailer and tell me you don’t want to see it. Besides, any film where Brad Pitt’s son grows up to be Sean Penn is worth the price of admission.

Super 8 (Paramount)

J.J. Abrams is a creative genius. He’s one of those filmmakers that really has a great instinct for mystery and intrigue. Most of the time a film’s marketing campaign tells you everything about the movie and kills any chance of discovery, but Abrams can get away with keeping a film’s plot secret, so all we really know about Super 8 so far is that it takes place in the late ’70s and has to do with aliens. I’m in, J.J. I’m in.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Warner Bros.)

I haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet so I can’t really comment on how faithful the films are as adaptations. All I know is that I was not mad at all during Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Considering Part 1 ends on a big cliffhanger, you know damn well I want to know how it all finishes.

Cowboys & Aliens (Universal)

Coming off of two Iron Man films back to back, Jon Favreau directs this comic book adaptation starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. I believe the title says it all. I’m a sucker for genre mash-ups, but I’m an even bigger sucker for westerns. Plus, Daniel Craig is bringing all his Bond coolness with him.

The Rum Diary (Warner Independent)

This was actually on my most anticipated list of films for 2010, but the film got pushed back to 2011. In 1998, Terry Gilliam directed the long-awaited film adaptation of the late great gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s infamous book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp as Thompson’s self-inspired doppelgänger Raoul Duke and Benicio Del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. Aside from being one of my favorite films of all time, it’s one of the best adaptations of a book I’ve ever seen. Depp’s performance is the stuff true acting is all about, and now we’re going to get to see him revisit the character in an adaptation of another one of Thompson’s books. While Gilliam is not directing this one, I’m looking forward to seeing a new take on Thompson’s work by director Bruce Robinson, and a new take on the character by Depp.

Hugo Cabret (Columbia)

Martin Scorsese is stepping out of his comfort zone and directing this film based on a children’s book titled The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Filmmakers stepping out of their comfort zones can be great and not so great, but master craftsmen like Scorsese usually pull it off. The story is about an orphan boy living a secret life in the walls of a Paris train station. What is also cool about this is it is Scorsese’s first film shot in 3-D. I’m not crazy about the whole 3-D thing, but again, when a guy like Marty tries something different you know it’s going to be worthwhile.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Paramount)

When I was a kid I religiously read the Tintin comics. It was only going to be a matter of time before someone attempted to make a film based on the property, and that “someone” in this case is Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. That’s a dream team-up right there – like Batman and Superman joining forces. Instead of live action, the film is being done motion capture animation “Zemeckis style” like The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. Spielberg directed this one with Jackson producing, and I know their plan is to make a couple more with Jackson directing the next one. If this goes down the way it should, we just might see the next great film franchise take shape.