Big studio epics will reign in 2013. It will also be a year of 3D remakes and sequels
It's grey outside. Christmas is over. The world may not have ended on December 22, at the end of the Mayan calendar, but there's always a vaguely apocalyptic feeling about this time of year.
No doubt, you'll be flicking anxiously through the cinema listings in needy pursuit of a silver-screened dose of diversion and joy to keep the spirits afloat for the next few weeks.
Luckily, with pre-Oscar season upon us, and the best of the 2013 fare about to unroll, there's plenty to keep us all going until spring is here and beyond.
One person who should already be rehearsing her acceptance speech for the Kodak Theatre is Anne Hathaway, whose immersive method for her role as Fantine in the epic film Les Miserables (out next Friday) involved fasting for 16 days during filming. Les Mis is directed by Tom Hooper, he of The King's Speech, a fellow who already has a strong history of success at the academy.
Online pundits are already casting their votes for a showdown between Les Mis and Argo for best picture at the awards.
But it's Anne Hathaway's heart-rending performance as Fantine, and particularly her gritty and nuanced rendition of the classic song I Dreamed A Dream that is generating the biggest Oscars buzz.
With the independent film industry on life support, we can expect a lot of big-budget, big-studio epics to dominate the multiplexes next year.
They may not always be awards-panel friendly, but with 3D becoming ever more sophisticated and creative in its capability, they can, at their best, be relied upon for a healthy helping of spectacle and sheer awe to be wrung out of a Saturday evening.
Leading the charge, The Hobbit, of course, is now already upon us. With Peter Jackson's most eagerly anticipated release since Lord of the Rings stretched into a trilogy, fans of the supernatural fantasy won't have to wait too long for the second installment, titled The Desolation of Smaug and due for release before the year is out.
But the real biggie won't be out until May 17. Production details of the new Star Trek movie, titled Into Darkness and directed by heir apparent to Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, have been shrouded in secrecy and subject to wild speculation and hype among Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike. I've seen the first nine minutes of the movie (the rest is still in the edit) and I'm still reeling from the mega dose of adrenaline and suspense.
There's a good run of box-office pleasers hitting the multiplexes from spring. Those sure to generate sales include The Hangover Part III, out in May, which will see the boys venture out for more boozy misadventures.
Jurassic Park will be back in a 3D version in May, as will the Little Mermaid, out in September, not forgetting the second movie in The Hunger Games trilogy and a feat of marketing genius, The One Direction concert movie in 3D out in November; alongside the next Hunger Games.
This will be a big year for rising star Chloe Moretz.
She was the child star and ingenue who became an unexpected action hero playing a pint-sized assassin in Kick Ass, and will be consolidated in her status as hot Hollywood property this year, with the release of a Kick Ass sequel, out in June.
Also raising her stock will be her starring role in the much-anticipated remake of Carrie, the cult Stephen King classic, directed by Judd Apatow and released in March. Moretz has gone from small-time insider to Hollywood powerhouse in just a few short years.
Judd Apatow is the guru who has put his stamp on a slew of hits including Knocked Up, I Love You Man and was even involved in Bridesmaids. As a producer, he's behind this year's most talked about television series, Girls.
And the go-to man for dry, hyper-contemporary comedy is back again in January with This is Forty, for which he'll be drawing on his now established stable of comic actors, including our very own Chris O'Dowd, currently enjoying his status as funny-man du jour in Hollywood.
The plot of This Is Forty, out in February, picks up where Knocked Up (the film that launched him into the mainstream) left off, offering a hilariously real account of mid-marriage and mid-life ennui.
Get your flapper dress dry cleaned, and your cloche hat out, because you can safely bet on a revival of Twenties fashion to reach its stride around April in anticipation of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby in May.
But before all of that, be sure not to miss Zero Dark Thirty which is out this month.
She's already been championed by Vanity Fair for her dazzling beauty and awesome talent.
As Hollywood's newest 'It' girl, stars in the latest film from Katherine Bigelow, she of The Hurt Locker fame, who beat her ex-boyfriend James Cameron to the best Picture Oscar in 2010.
Bigelow is already being tipped to repeat her success at the awards this year.