Director: David Fincher
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, Embeth Davidtz, Joely Richardson
Release Date: December 21
Why we’re excited: It says a lot that 2011’s most anxiously awaited blockbuster-in-the-making is also in position to be the year’s darkest and perhaps most violent mainstream film, with a poster that shows female nip to boot. That’s a testament to the mammoth international success of late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the first of three novels featuring missing girl investigators Lisbeth Salander, an introverted, Goth computer hacker, and shamed journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Punctuated by gory deaths, vivid rape, and an underlying tone of creepy dread, Larsson’s 2005 best-seller, which made its English language debut in 2008, is an uncompromisingly adult thriller—just check out the three recent Swedish movie adaptations.

Or don’t. It’s almost guaranteed that Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher’s (Fight Club, The Social Network) big deal Hollywood version is going to be far superior. The first indicator is that Fincher’s back in his sinister Se7en/Zodiac realm here; secondly, Rooney Mara looks much more intimidating as Salander than Noomi Rapace ever did in the Swedes’ flicks (Daniel “OO7” Craig plays Blomkvist).

Debuting right before Christmas, Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has all the makings of a cheerful holiday classic; what’s sure to be the film’s most controversial scene will involve Mara getting sexually assaulted in a no-holds-barred dose of brute misogyny. Sounds like an ideal way to cap off ’11’s year in film.