Premiered: May 13
Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig co-wrote and stars in this comedy that, while it contains gross-out scenes that are a trademark of producer Judd Apatow, winds up being a sweet tale of friendships that are tested, tried and true. SNL alum Maya Rudolph, Damages' Rose Byrne and Mike & Molly's Melissa McCarthy co-star. Mad Men star Jon Hamm appears as Wiig's FWB.
2 of 21 Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Pictures
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Premiered: May 20
It's the fourth ride for this film franchise based on a Disneyland ride. Which just goes to show: You can't keep a multibillion-dollar enterprise down. And this one is just adding to the pirate's box-office booty. Johnny Depp is back as Capt. Jack Sparrow, as are Keith Richards as his father and Geoffrey Rush as Capt. Barbossa. Penelope Cruz, and Ian McShane (who was the best thing about Deadwood) join the antics.
3 of 21 Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Pictures
The Hangover Part II
Premiered: May 26
The Wolf Pack is back for another pre-wedding adventure that goes comically, crazily off the rails. This time, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galafianikis run amok in Bangkok. Even if this movie isn't as much fun, it's still going to be a blockbuster. The first film made $467.5 million internationally — which made it the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time.
4 of 21 Merie Wallace/Fox Searchlight
The Tree of Life
Premiered: May 27
Depending on how you feel about Terrence Malick, the auteur's films can captivate or stupefy you. Sometimes, both. Still, this film starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain won the top prize at the recent Cannes film festival and is bound to stimulate wide-ranging discussion as people walk out of their favorite art-house theater.
5 of 21 Paramount Pictures
Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom
Premiered: May 26
Gary Oldman voices a villainous peacock in this follow-up to the 2008 animated hit. Jack Black returns as Po, who established himself as the Dragon Warrior in the initial film. He's again helped by the Furious Five, whose voices include the returning Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan.
6 of 21 20th Century Fox
X-Men: First Class
Premieres: June 3
What's summer without a comic-book superhero or two? This film starring James MacAvoy (who plays the young version of Patrick Stewart's Professor X) and Michael Fassbender (the younger rendition of Ian McKellen's Magneto) serves as a prequel to the previous X-Men movies — which obviously made enough money to beget an origins story. Mad Men's January Jones co-stars.
7 of 21 Paramount Pictures
Premieres: June 10
Phone home, Elliot. J.J. Abrams directs this Steven Spielberg-produced tale that looks like a genuflection to Spielberg's science fiction films of 30 years ago. And, hey, it's set in 1979 in an Ohio steel town. The youngsters are played by Riley Griffiths, Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning. And it co-stars one of our favorite grown-ups, Friday Night Lights' Kyle Chandler.
8 of 21 Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics
Premieres: June 17
This superhero flick starring Ryan Reynolds has a lot to live up to since it's so highly anticipated. The long green could pour into box office coffers. Then again: With The Green Hornet's tepid reception earlier this year, it may not be so easy being green. The ever reliable Peter Sarsgaard plays villain Hector Hammon, and Gossip Girl's Blake Lively portrays an aerospace executive.
9 of 21 Columbia Pictures
Premieres: June 24
Cameron Diaz plays an educator who should get an F in conduct in this comedy co-starring ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch and How I Met Your Mother's Jason Segel.
10 of 21 Disney/Pixar
Premieres: June 24
Yep, another sequel. What's a summer without them? But anything from Pixar's John Lasseter is bound to rev your engine. And the 2006 blockbuster made a lot of us want to see the glib autos keep their mouths and motors running. Owen Wilson again voices Lightning McQueen, and Larry the Cable Guy returns as Mater; Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer join the fun.
11 of 21 Universal Pictures
Premieres: July 1
Directing for the first time since 1996's That Thing You Do! , Tom Hanks reteams with Charlie Wilson's War co-star and fellow superstar Julia Roberts in this story about a guy who gets laid off and decides to enroll in college. Roberts plays an icy, brittle professor, whom he gradually thaws. She inevitably has a salutary effect on him, too. Mawkish? Maybe. But it qualifies as a little bit of counterprogramming.
12 of 21 Robert Zuckerman/Paramount Pictures
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Premieres: June 29
In the third installment of the Hasbro toy-inspired franchise film, Shia LeBeouf's Sam Witwicky has a new girlfriend (model Rose Huntington-Whiteley) and a new bot-vs.-bot battle to deal with. Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Tyrese Gibson reprise their co-starring roles.
13 of 21 John P. Johnson/Warner Bros. Pictures
Premieres: July 8
Jennifer Aniston (and her new 'do), Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell are the titular meanies in this dark comedy; Jason Bateman, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day and Saturday Night Live's Jason Sudeikis are their long-suffering underlings who forge a pact to get rid of them — by killing them. A psychotic fantasy for the Great Recession?
14 of 21 Warner Bros. Pictures
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Premieres: July 15
And so it ends, after 10 years and eight movies. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and BFFs Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) return to Hogwarts for the final showdown with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Tears are bound to flow when the final "The End" flashes on the screen for the biggest-grossing movie in Hollywood history (some $2 billion, just domestically).
15 of 21 Jay Maidment/ Marvel Studios
Captain America: The First Avenger
Premieres: July 22
Yes, another superhero. And he wears red, white and blue! Chris Evans, who played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films, takes on what really could be his breakout role as the man deemed unfit for duty during World War II then transformed into a super soldier. Three stalwart veteran actors co-star: Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving, who's so good at playing the heavy (as Matrix fans know), as the Red Skull.
16 of 21 David Giesbrecht/Columbia Pictures
Friends with Benefits
Premiere: July 22
Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis try the FWB thing, thinking, hoping, wishing that the FWB thing can be uncomplicated and you can be BFFs, too. Now there's a fantasy for you! The movie is rated R, brace for it being a little steamier than your typical romcom.
17 of 21 Zade Rosenthal/Universal Pictures
Cowboys & Aliens
Premiere: July 29
DRAW, partner. Wait! Is that a laser, not a six-shooter? A sci-fi Western is a hybrid genre, to be sure. But you have big names behind the camera (Iron-Man director Jon Favreau, producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer) as well as marquee actors Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. Olivia Wilde (Thirteen from House) co-stars.
18 of 21 Sony Pictures
Premiere: July 29
Feeling blue? This film is sure to cheer you up. Smurfs are plopped down in Manhattan by evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by Hank Azaria), and they struggle to get back home before he can find them. Neil Patrick Harris and Glee's Jayma Mays star in human form while comic legend Jonathan Winters voices Papa Smurf and too-hot-for-Sesame-Street songstress Katy Perry utters Smurfette's lines.
19 of 21 WETA/20th Century Fox
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Premiere: Aug. 5
The ubiquitous James Franco stars in the origin story of how experiments in genetic engineering led to intelligence in apes and a battle for control of Earth. Frida Pinto co-stars along with Andy Serkis, who plays the prime subject of genetic monkeying around. Maybe this movie will help us forget the mediocre 2001 reboot with Mark Wahlberg. Nothing, however, will ever make us forget the ending of the 1968 original with Charlton Heston.
20 of 21 Dale Robinette/Dreamworks
Premiere: Aug. 12
Based on a wonderful best-seller, this tale of a 1960s Mississippi town stars Emma Stone as a writer who gets black women who have devoted their lives to being housekeepers for prominent white families to spill their guts about their employers. Bryce Dallas Howard co-stars as a woman whose world is turned upside down by the revelations, and the superb Viola Davis as one of the hired help.
21 of 21 Lionsgate
Conan the Barbarian
Premiere: Aug. 19
Long before he became the Governator (and started going through an ugly little breakup with Maria Shriver), Arnold Schwarzenegger put his buff shoulders to the wheel as the title character in the 1982 original (which begat one sequel). Now, Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones) fills the role in a retooling of the epic fantasy.