It's July and we're now closer to Christmas than the start of the year. The nights are drawing in so what better way to spend an evening than in the comfort of the cinema? It's been a terrific year so far for film, kicking off with arguably the highest quality awards season for years. The BAFTA and Oscar Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave grossed over £20m at the box office, which is a remarkable achievement for a film of such uncompromising power. The Wolf of Wall Street may not have scooped any major awards but it became the highest grossing 18 certificate film of all time with £22.7m. They were ably supported by American Hustle which became director David O Russell's most successful film in the UK.
The big February film was an instant classic, The Lego Movie was an explosion of wit and creativity and was an utter delight. It's the biggest film of the year to date and it may be a few more months before it's overtaken. Awards season may be well gone by March but awards worthy films continued and The Grand Budapest Hotel took everyone by surprise by becoming director Wes Anderson's biggest film of all time and charming audiences to the tune of £10.9m.
Blockbuster season got off to a strong (and early) start as Captain America: The Winter Soldier almost doubled the gross of the first Captain America film and heightened the excitement for next year's Avengers sequel even further. Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past provided consummate big budget spectacle and the immensely satisfying Bad Neighbours and 22 Jump Street have been tickling funny bones everywhere.
Despite this thrilling selection of cinematic delights, the best is hopefully still to come. Over the next six months there are surprisingly thoughtful blockbusters, huge home-grown comedies, boundary pushing sci-fi and grand, epic fantasy. I've earmarked what I think are the seven stand-out films for the rest of 2014 that absolutely demand to be seen at the cinema.
The first of the seven is released in just over a week and it's the highly anticipated Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. With Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke leading the cast, this is the summer blockbuster for the discerning viewer and promises to engage the brain as much as the adrenal gland.
The undoubted favourite for biggest comedy of the year is the sequel to the biggest comedy of recent years. The Inbetweeners Movie grossed a quite frankly ridiculous £45m at the UK box office and The Inbetweeners Two sees the return of the hapless but much loved quartet as they embark on a gap year to Australia. After three years away, excitement couldn't be much higher.
Gone Girl is THE literary phenomenon of the last year, with seemingly everyone either having just read it, reading it or about to read it. It promises to be the most talked about film of October and with David Fincher (Seven, The Social Network, Fight Club) directing it's already being talked up as an awards contender.
Kingsman: The Secret Service may not be on most people's radar yet but that's all set to change. The initial footage has been getting rave reviews and Colin Firth in action man mode should be something we're all looking forward to. With Bond 24 coming in October 2015, this should keep espionage fans more than happy until then.
Arguably the marquee title of the entire year, Interstellar, is Christopher Nolan's return to big budget sci-fi. With a plot that involves space travel, it's sure to be visually spectacular and Nolan has typically assembled one of the best casts of the year, including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and as it's a Nolan film, Michael Caine.
The Hunger Games is firmly established as one of the biggest franchises in the world and anticipation for third instalment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One couldn't be higher. After two very good films and the story reaching an exciting crescendo, it's undoubtedly one of the year's biggest films.
Finally, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies could well be the year's biggest film. The last two films have grossed over £40m and this final film in the series, which features the huge showdown of the title, should repeat that. It's Peter Jackson and Middle Earth and for the millions of fans, it's cinematic heaven.
The bar has already been set high in 2014 but these seven films promise to raise it further in a spectacular second half of the year.