The past twelve months have seen a stellar slate of films released in cinemas, a selection that ranks alongside any in the last 20 years. Gravity showed that the cinema is still unrivalled in providing jaw-dropping spectacle, Blue Is The Warmest Colour put unforgettable, raw emotion in tight close-up on the big screen with heartbreaking results and Alan Partridge proved that television characters can make the transition to the big screen, retaining their personality and humour. 2014 also promises to be a great year for the big screen, proving once again, that there's never a bad year for cinema. The UK is a nation of cinema fans, with one in five people over the age of 15 visiting the cinema at least once a month. If you're one of them you may want to start planning your visits now, so I've highlighted 12 upcoming films, one for each month, that make 2014 such an exciting year.
The Wolf of Wall Street (17 January)
January is slap bang in the thick of the awards season so we're always spoilt for choice with wonderful, distinctive films at this time of year. I would have been happy selecting either of Inside Llewyn Davis or 12 Years A Slave as my pick but it's tough to look past The Wolf Of Wall Street. This is Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's fifth collaboration and tantalisingly, could be their best yet. DiCaprio plays real-life hotshot stockbroker Jordan Belfort during his 1980s heyday and his subsequent descent into a life of crime and corruption.
Her (14 February)
Spike Jonze's filmography includes Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where The Wild Things Are. His films are highly original and often brilliant. In his latest, Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a recently divorced writer who falls in love with his hyper-intuitive new operating system (think Siri, but good). It sounds off-the-wall but the OS is voiced by Scarlett Johansson, which makes it slightly more plausible. Like all of Jonze's work this promises to be distinctive, funny and oddly moving.
Muppets Most Wanted (28 March)
Who doesn't love The Muppets? Silly people, that's who. After 2012's Muppets film proved a worldwide hit, the gang are back and, as usual, Hollywood stars are queuing up to share the screen with them. This time Ricky Gervais plays the human lead as Kermit and team embark on a world tour, but find themselves caught up in a European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit lookalike and his dastardly sidekick. All our favourite Muppets are present and part of the film was shot in London, so hopefully Miss Piggy got time to indulge herself at Harrods.
Transcendence (25 April)
Wally Pfister may be one of the most amusingly named people in Hollywood but he's also a brilliant Oscar winning cinematographer who has lensed every Christopher Nolan film since Memento. Transcendence sees Pfister make his directorial debut and judging by the plot he's working in a similar realm to Nolan. Johnny Depp plays a dying scientist whose mind is uploaded into a computer and becomes all powerful. I'll be honest, the trailer alone made my head hurt, but in a good way and if this is aiming for Nolan levels of brilliance, even if it doesn't get there, it'll be worth watching.
Godzilla (12 May)
British director Gareth Edwards burst on to the scene with low budget sci-fi marvel Monsters and he's rightly been rewarded with rebooting the Godzilla story. Edwards has assembled a striking cast (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen) and if you're unfamiliar with the Godzilla myth and the ropey 1998 Hollywood version, here's a quick re-cap: a giant radioactive monster called Godzilla awakens from its slumber to wreak destruction on its creators. Even the presence of Aaron Taylor-Johnson can't dim the excitement.
22 Jump Street (6 June)
21 Jump Street was a genuinely pleasant surprise. One of the funniest films of the last few years, its two leads, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, made an inspired pairing, with Tatum in particular proving himself a gifted comic actor. The imaginatively titled sequel sees the pair go undercover at a college, and with the directors of the first film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, returning, hilarity will no doubt ensue.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (4 July)
Currently number 162 on the IMDB Top 250, How To Train Your Dragon is one of the most enduring of recent non-Pixar animated films. It was a heartfelt and amusing tale about a boy and his dragon as they attempted to unite the dragons and vikings on the island of Berk. This time around, Hiccup is older and still best friends with Toothless the dragon. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the centre of a battle to protect the peace.
Guardians of the Galaxy (1 August)
For my money, this is Marvel's most interesting title for some time. A jet pilot gets stranded in space, and must unite a diverse team of aliens to form a squad capable of defeating cosmic threats. A good example of how diverse... Bradley Cooper plays a genetically engineered raccoon called Rocket, whilst Vin Diesel plays a tree. As well as Cooper and Diesel, an eclectic cast has been assembled including Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro and Dr. Who's Karen Gillan, and a daring choice of director in James Gunn (indie comedy Super) makes this a fascinating summer prospect.
Boxtrolls (12 September)
American animation company, Laika are great with their hands, having produced two charming stop motion animated films in Coraline and ParaNorman. Boxtrolls sees them once again getting their hands dirty with the tale of a young boy raised by the titular group, an underground cave-dwelling team of rubbish collectors. The first trailer detailing the painstaking stop motion process is an utter delight.
Gone Girl (3 October)
For the last 12 months, Gone Girl has been the go-to book for holidayers looking for a thrilling slice of escapism and it's getting the big screen treatment this year. Ben Affleck plays journalist Nick Dunne, whose marriage to Amy (Rosamund Pike) is in trouble. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing and Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. What follows promises to be a suspense-filled psychological thriller but what really excites is the presence of genius director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club, Seven).
Interstellar (7 November)
The last time Christopher Nolan tackled sci-fi we were treated to the magnificent Inception, so it's fair to set excitement levels to stratospheric for Interstellar. Although the plot is being closely guarded it reportedly involves a group of scientists travelling through a wormhole to find new land to grow crops. As always, Nolan has assembled a 'stellar' cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway.
Dumb and Dumber To (19 December)
Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels and the Farrelly brothers may need this sequel to reignite their flagging movie careers but there's no denying the intriguing prospect of reuniting Lloyd and Harry for one more adventure. Dumb and Dumber struck comedy gold in 1995 and it's an exciting possibility that they could re-create that magic in time for next Christmas. Hollywood's hottest actress, Jennifer Lawrence is reportedly desperate to feature and if it's anywhere near as good as the first, it will be one of 2014's funniest films.
So there we have it, 12 months and 12 films proving what a fantastic year we have in store.
All release dates are correct at time of publishing.