Declan Cashin: Reel Life
With it being awards season right now, the start of 2014 has been front-loaded with quality film releases, but how, you might wonder, is the movie year shaping up beyond that?
Let Reel Life do the work for you by giving you the heads-up on the flicks, franchises, stars and trends you'll be hearing a lot about over the next 12 months.
* Sequelitis -- The Sequel
You think Hollywood has been all sequelled out by now? Oh, you poor, innocent child.
This year, the two biggie sequels are X-Men: Days Of Future Past (out May 22), and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (April 18) starring the beyond-adorable Andrew Garfield alongside real-life girlfriend Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and rising star Dane DeHaan.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson are back for Captain America: The Winter Soldier (March 28), while Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller team up for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 29), starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jessica Alba.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reunite for 22 Jump Street (June 6); Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell take over leading duties in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (July 17), while Mark Wahlberg and Irish actor Jack Reynor (What Richard Did) star in Transformers: Age Of Extinction (July 10).
That's before we mention 300: Rise Of An Empire (March 7), Muppets Most Wanted (March 28), The Raid 2 (no release date yet), Rio 2 (April 4), How To Train Your Dragon 2 (July 4), The Expendables 3 (August 15), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 (Nov 21), Horrible Bosses 2 (Nov 28), The Hobbit: There And Back Again (Dec 19), and, 20 years on from its original, Dumb And Dumber To (December 19), with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
* Superhero Newbie
Basically the only non-sequel/reboot comic book launch in 2014 is Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy (August 1), starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro and Vin Diesel. We'll also get Gareth Edwards' new stompy-stompy-smashy-smashy reboot of Godzilla with Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
* The new Jennifer Lawrence
You might remember Shailene Woodley from her excellent performance as George Clooney's daughter in The Descendants.
Well, there's no way to avoid the 22-year-old this year: she's the lead in the new Hunger Games-coattails-riding franchise hopeful Divergent (April), while she also conquers the market playing sensitive teenagers in both The Spectacular Now (no set release date yet) and The Fault In Our Stars (June), an adaptation of John Green's Defcon 1-level weepie.
* Jolie Good
Angelina Jolie should have a big hit on her hands in May with Maleficent, which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of its spell-casting villain (played by Jolie). She also directs WWII drama Unbroken starring Domhnall Gleeson (Dec/Jan).
* War, What Is Good For? (Box office, hopefully)
Angie's fella, Brad Pitt, has his own WWII project, Fury, out in October. Michelle Williams is also filming Suite Francais about a French girl who falls for a German soldier. Next month, George Clooney and Matt Damon star in The Monuments Men about a group of Allied culture vultures rescuing art work from the Nazis.
* Tune In
Musicals are big biz this year too. We have Can A Song Save Your Life?, directed by Irishman John Carney and starring Keira Knightley and Adam Levine (date tbc); Clint Eastwood's version of the Frankie Valli jukebox musical hit Jersey Boys (June); a modern-day version of Annie, starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Diaz (Dec/Jan); and Into The Woods, with Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep (Dec/Jan).
* To Infinity ...
Christopher Nolan is back in November with sci-fi wormhole thriller Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain; Johnny Depp heads up Transcendence (April); Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis pair up for the Wachowskis' futuristic Jupiter Ascending (July 25), and Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in aliens-fightfest Edge Of Tomorrow (May 30).
* God Almighty
Darren Aronofsky is the unlikely helmer of the $125m-budget Biblical epic Noah (March) starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson.
There's also Ridley Scott's Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses (December), while Son Of God (March) casts Diogo Morgado as the big JC himself.
What's more, Will Smith is said to be developing a project based on Cain and Abel, while Brad Pitt is linked to a movie about Pontius Pilate. Ang Lee is also attached to direct a separate Moses project, entitled Gods And Kings.
* Remade In The USA
There are several remakes on our way too: Robocop starring Joel Kinnaman (Feb 7); Endless Love (Feb 13) with Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer; and a live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Oct 17), starring Megan Fox.
* In Like Flynn
One of the most exciting projects is David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's word-of-mouth bestselling thriller Gone Girl, about a wife that goes missing and the husband who might have done away with her.
Flynn herself has penned the screenplay while Ben Affleck and the long-overdue-to-be-a-star Rosamund Pike take on the lead roles of the unreliable narrator couple. On top of that, Reese Witherspoon is producing -- meaning this movie can't but be a smash.
A second Flynn book-to-screen transfer is due this year too: Dark Places, with Charlize Theron as a woman who, as a child, was the sole survivor of a family massacre. Expect both films towards the end of the year.