The box office's revival in 2013 can make one excited or worried about what to expect at the movies in early 2014.
But even after a quick study of what's ahead, there doesn't look to be a letdown.
Here are a few films that I'll be making an effort to see in the next few months:
"The Monuments Men"
Release date: Friday
George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman star in this World War II movie about art experts saddled with the job of finding valuable stolen artwork before the Nazis destroy it. I mean, I figured I could just say Clooney, Damon, Murray and Goodman, and you'd already be packing up the tents to camp out at the theaters. That cast is outstanding. If the movie is as good at the cast, it will be a future classic.
"The LEGO Movie"
Release date: Friday
Some people say I'm an old soul. But, as you can see, I'm also a kid at heart. Not every movie needs to be Oscar material to be enjoyable. This movie looks like a unique take on something that can't be taken too seriously: Legos. Construction line Legos, to be exact. The previews have been funny, and the greatest animated and computer-animated films are the ones the whole family can enjoy. Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks and Will Ferrell sounds like a cast perfect for building a well-rounded family film. Get it? Build, because Legos are used to build things? ... Ahem, moving on.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Release date: March 7
Wes Anderson, one of the industry's most unique filmmakers, follows up his successful 2012 release "Moonrise Kingdom" with a sure-to-be quirky flick about a concierge who forms a friendship with a young employee at their workplace, a hotel. The movie is set in alternate-history early 20th century in a European country that doesn't exist in real life. There's a painting, and it's important, and, yeah, quirky. But history doesn't lie; Anderson usually delivers. The cast includes veteran Anderson film actors, such as Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Edward Norton. I'm making reservations.
Release date: March 14
A movie to finally give some closure, I hope, to the severely-underrated TV show that was canceled after only 3 seasons in 2007. I'll admit, even I didn't watch the show when it originally aired. Instead, I watched the entire series a few years back in a no-sleep, yet bright-eyed, binge of awesomeness in the span of a few days. It was glorious. Kristen Bell (Mars) is a great actress. Rob Thomas, the show's creator, wrote the screenplay for the film after the show's cancellation. Now, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $2 million for production, the spunky private investigator is back. Mars now lives in New York, 9 years after the events of Season 3, but must return to her hometown when her old boyfriend is accused of murder. Again. I'm coming with her. Road trip, anyone?
"Muppets Most Wanted"
Release date: March 31
The Muppets are at it again. Those crazy creatures are one of my favorite things in life. My sister and I still watch the TV special "A Muppet Family Christmas" from 1987 almost every year. My dad still has it. On VHS. So, yeah, we go back. Kermit and the gang are joined by Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey. The Muppets find themselves in an international crime caper while on tour in Europe. If this is anything like 1981's 'The Great Muppet Caper," we are all in for a treat. Jason Segel helped bring the late Jim Henson's gang of misfits roaring back into the spotlight with "The Muppets" in 2011. Here's hoping "Muppets Most Wanted" shines even brighter.
Release date: April 25
I remember seeing a somewhat-ambiguous preview for this last year and still being excited. Let me be the first to admit, I'm not a huge Johnny Depp fan. Don't get me wrong, "Edward Scissorhands" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" are great. But "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the like are just kind of blah. Argh, I know. But a movie about an artificial intelligence researcher whose mind is uploaded into a computer after an assassination attempt by a group of anti-technology extremists? Well that sure sounds unique, if nothing else. Morgan Freeman, too? OK, I'm sold.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past"
Release date: May 23
I've lost count of how many X-Men movies there have been. When that happens, franchises can start to feel stale. But, when I heard that Bryan Singer, director of "X-Men" and "X2," has returned, I changed my tune. Jennifer Lawrence has also replaced Rebecca Romijn as "Mystique." I'm not just name dropping. Lawrence is one of the hottest names in Hollywood right now, and this is an interesting change of pace for the young, talented actress. The ensemble, including regulars like Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Ellen Page and Halle Berry, are fighting for the survival of the species in two time periods. And I'm here fighting the urge to not get too excited. I'm losing.
You look great on the surface 2014. Don't disappoint.