DATE January 1 (UK) DIRECTOR Juan Antonio Bayona CAST Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Geraldine Chaplin, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast
BASED ON A real-life story that took place during the Boxing Day tsunami disaster.
SYNOPSIS A Spanish family on holiday in Thailand are swept up in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The disaster separates them, and a desperate search begins as they struggle to survive. Expect trauma amid the impeccable recreation of the strife, quite a lot of screaming and some absolutely stunning performances.
WHAT TO EXPECT Watts in particular could find herself looking at some awards heat for her performance here, but this is a quality affair across the board and one that's well worth a look. • Watch the trailer below
DATE January 1 (UK) DIRECTOR Dustin Hoffman CAST Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Sheridan Smith
FUN FACT Ronald Harwood adapted the screenplay from his own stage play.
SYNOPSIS Beecham House is a home for retired musicians, but it's facing difficulties and the annual Verdi concert must be successful in raising money. When retired opera singer Jean (Maggie Smith) moves in, it seems like a godsend, but that's only if she and her old quartet - including her ex-husband (Courtenay) - can overcome their differences.
WHAT TO EXPECT Smith at her most withering, Connolly at his most charming and Gambon at his most irascible. This Hoffman guy might be a director to watch. • Watch the trailer below
DATE January 18 DIRECTOR Ben Lewin CAST John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Rhea Perlman
FUN FACT The Oscar talk for this film would be the second time that Oscars have been attached to this story - poet Mark O'Brien was previously the subject of an Oscar-winning short documentary by Jessica Yu in 1996.
SYNOPSIS 38-year-old Mark O'Brien was paralysed by polio as a child and spends most of his days in an iron lung to help him breathe. With the help of a priest, he hires a sex surrogate, Cheryl (Helen Hunt), to help him lose his virginity.
WHAT TO EXPECT The performances in this have won nothing but adulation since the film's first screening, particularly for Hawkes and Hunt, and the story is a tragic and fascinating one. • Watch the trailer below
DATE 2013 TBC DIRECTOR Ridley Scott CAST Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez, Goran Visnjic
BASED ON An original script by Cormac McCarthy, delivered to his publishers in lieu of the novel they were expecting.
SYNOPSIS Fassbender plays a lawyer who attempts to dabble in the drug trade without getting his hands dirty. Suffice it to say, his hands are soon pretty dirty.
WHAT TO EXPECT We're hoping for a seriously high-quality crime drama here. A script by the great McCarthy, directed by the great Scott, starring the recently near-flawless Pitt, Bardem, Fassbender and the rest: what could go wrong?
DATE January 11 DIRECTOR Tom Hooper CAST Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Samantha Barks
FUN FACT That giant elephant statue you spotted in the trailers? It actually existed in Paris in 1832 and was mentioned in Victor Hugo's original novel.
SYNOPSIS Jean Valjean (Jackman), imprisoned 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, is finally paroled - but lawman Javert (Crowe) resolves to keep a close eye on him. Valjean, offered kindness by a priest, resolves to become a better man and, years later, is a factory owner and mayor. One of his workers, Fantine (Hathaway) is unjustly fired by his foreman and sinks into misery as she tries to pay the rapacious Thenardiers (Baron Cohen, Bonham Carter) who are caring for her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen, later Seyfried). Valjean befriends the dying Fantine and promises to care for Cosette - despite the fact that Javert is back on his trail. Cut to more years later, and Valjean and Cosette find themselves in Paris just as a student rebellion bubbles up, involving student Marius (Redmayne) and the Thenardiers' daughter Eponine (Barks). Cue more tragedy. Oh, and lots of singing.
WHAT TO EXPECT In a word, Oscars. In a few more words, a quality adaptation of the stage musical that looks sumptuous and is brilliantly performed by the cast, singing live on set as they go. Also, a giant elephant statue! What's not to love? • Watch the trailer below
DATE January 25 DIRECTOR Steven Spielberg CAST Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Lee Pace, James Spader, Jared Harris, Hal Holbrook
FUN FACT Sally Field appears in two films in the last 12 months where her husband is shot to death - see also The Amazing Spider-Man.
SYNOPSIS As the US Civil War winds down, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) rushes to pass the slavery-banning 13th Amendment before the issue becomes a part of the peace talks and is potentially scuppered by the South's terms of surrender. To get it through Congress he must wrangle everyone from fiery abolitionist Thaddeus Wood (Jones) to conservative peacemaker Preston Blair (Holbrook) and his own Secretary of State, William Seward (Strathairn) - even resorting to under-the-table tactics and bribery, courtesy of W. N. Bilbo (Spader). Lincoln's emotional wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (Field) and gung-ho son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) give him worries closer to home.
WHAT TO EXPECT If Velazquez shot a prequel to The West Wing, it would look something like this. Day-Lewis disappears completely into his role, to the extent that you'll have to remind yourself he's an actor. The film won't be to everyone's taste - it's basically a series of discussions between men in small, dark rooms - but as a portrait of America's greatest President it's hard to resist. • Watch the trailer below
DATE February 8 DIRECTOR Sacha Gervasi CAST Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg
BASED ON Stephen Rebello's book, Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho, was first optioned for the screen way back in 2005.
SYNOPSIS Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the story of the making of Psycho, during which Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins) depended on the support of his wife Alma (Mirren) while Hollywood expressed open doubt in the story's more twisted elements. Johansson plays Janet Leigh, with James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins.
WHAT TO EXPECT It's more or less a love story about the close but sometimes thorny relationship between the Hitchcocks, as well as the struggle to get his groundbreaking movie made. Spoiler: he made it in the end. • Watch the trailer on YouTube
DATE 2013 TBC DIRECTOR Alfonso Cuarón CAST Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
FUN FACT Other names in contention for this film included Robert Downey Jr. and Angelina Jolie.
SYNOPSIS Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle flight and Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) an experienced shuttle commander. On a routine spacewalk, disaster strikes and their shuttle is destroyed. Tethered only to each other and with no radio link to Earth, they're adrift in the vaccum - and the air's running out. But apparently "The only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space", according to this synopsis. We're not sure they've thought that through.
WHAT TO EXPECT This synopsis seems noticeably different from the test screening people saw earlier this year, which might mean that there have been some significant reshoots - and of course its release date has vanished ever into the ether. Still, the problem appears to be less a lack of quality and more a surfeit, with audiences not sure how to respond to what even the naysayers had to admit was a technical masterpiece and a terrific piece of acting.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
DATE 2013 TBC DIRECTOR Martin Scorsese CAST Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Bernthal, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie, Jon Favreau, Matthew McConaughey
FUN FACT Jordan Belfort ran a 'boiler room' stock operation that also served as inspiration for the film Boiler Room.
SYNOPSIS DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a stock broker who ran a boiler room in the 1990s, lived the high life and was indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering. He served 22 months in federal prison after cooperating with the FBI and had to pay back $100 million to stock brokers.
WHAT TO EXPECT BFFs Scorsese and DiCaprio are together again, which is never a bad prospect, and they've assembled a heck of a supporting cast: Oscar winner Dujardin, Friday Night Lights MVP Kyle Chandler and so-hot-right-now Matthew McConaughey among them. It's far, far too early to talk Oscars for February 2014, but if it weren't, we'd be talking about this one.
Saving Mr. Banks
DATE December 20 (US) DIRECTOR John Lee Hancock CAST Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Ruth Wilson, Rachel Griffiths, Bradley Whitford, BJ Novak, Kathy Baker
FUN FACT Walt Disney's favourite song in Mary Poppin's was 'Feed The Birds'. The composers who wrote the film's music, The Sherman Brothers, tell a story of how when Walt ever told them to "play it", he always meant 'Feed The Birds'.
SYNOPSIS The story behind the making of Disney's Mary Poppins, this sees Walt Disney (Hanks) struggle with author P.L. Travers (Thompson) in his attempts to have her sign over the rights to her story. Meanwhile, in flashbacks, we learn about her early life and her relationship with her father (Farrell), who inspired the book's Mr. Banks.
WHAT TO EXPECT On the strength of the cast and the release date, this looks like it's being positioned as Oscar bait. Whether it will catch anything depends on the finished product, but it's an intriguing story on paper and Travers was a fascinating character and more than Disney's match.
Zero Dark Thirty
DATE January 25 DIRECTOR Kathryn Bigelow CAST Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Edgar Ramirez, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt
FUN FACT Chastain's Maya is the main character, but speaks not a word in the trailer. Also, look out for Torchwood's John Barrowman popping up in a Washington-set scene.
SYNOPSIS Maya (Chastain) is a young CIA agent sent to the US Embassy in Afghanistan to join the hunt for Osama bin Laden in 2003. Over nearly a decade, she and her team track down leads and interrogate detainees in pursuit of the Al Qaeda leader, before the assault of Seal Team Six on the house she identifies as his base.
WHAT TO EXPECT This won't take any prisoners in getting going - like Maya, the viewer is expected to jump straight into the confused situation and follow what's going on - but the story is sufficiently strong to sweep you along anyway, and the cast uniformly excellent even in sometimes tiny, almost unnamed roles. • Watch the trailer below
DATE February 22 DIRECTOR Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski CAST Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Hugo Weaving, James D'Arcy
SEE ALSO David Mitchell's famously "unfilmable" novel of the same name. Ha! Take that, unfilmability!
SYNOPSIS Um. Well there's a bit on a boat, and another bit in the future, and a section in the '70s, and a post-apocalyptic bit, and Hugh Grant as a cannibal and... look, there's only so much space on the internet. If you're looking for it in film terms, think of it as "Silkwood + A Single Man + Amistad + Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" (thanks to @nevpierce for that one). Let's just say it's six stories spread over a couple of thousand years, charting souls throughout many lives and examining the human condition.
WHAT TO EXPECT Something audacious and strange but largely successful, according to everything we've seen so far. The story's still sufficiently complex that you'll need your wits about you to figure out how it all hangs together (the filmmakers have abandoned the book's structure and linked segments by theme instead) but it's worth the attempt. • Watch the trailer below
The Great Gatsby
DATE May 17 DIRECTOR Baz Luhrman CAST Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan
SEE ALSO The 3D version of Dial M For Murder, a film which inspired Baz Luhrman to use that format here.
SYNOPSIS Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Maguire) moves to Long Island and becomes fascinated by his glamorous neighbour Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio), a man who throws glamorous parties but shows no interest in his guests. Nick soon learns that Gatsby's only real interest is Daisy (Mulligan), the girl across the bay he loved and lost. But the course of true love/obsession (discuss: 10 marks) does not run smooth, with Daisy married to Tom (Edgerton) and not quite available.
WHAT TO EXPECT Something that's visually dizzying and drunk on the high spirits of the 1920s, judging by both Luhrman's previous efforts and the trailer. But with DiCaprio, Maguire and Mulligan in the lead roles and F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel as the source, it should have some emotional and dramatic heft in there as well. • Watch the trailer below
Quick Poll Which of these films are you looking forward to most?