As further evidenced by one of the most buoyant Oscar seasons in years, 2012 was a pretty sweet year in movies. But there's plenty to get excited about in 2013 - here are the five films I am most looking forward to seeing this year.
In 2004, independent filmmaker Shane Carruth released his debut feature, the low-budget science fiction drama Primer. It was one of the most dazzling and assured debuts in decades, but there's been hardly a peep out of Carruth since.
That is until late last year when word, then a teaser, emerged for his long-awaited follow-up, Upstream Colour.
Few plot details can be discerned from the creepy teaser, and the esoteric logline only throws up more questions: "A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives."
But both will serve as catnip to fans of Primer, which dealt with similarly ambitious concepts with a devastating dramatic undercurrent. Seriously, if you've never seen Primer, do so at your earliest convenience. Don't read anything about it. Just watch it. It stood as the most impressive film debut of the 2000s until Neil Blomkamp came along in 2009 with District 9.
Which brings me to my next most anticipated film of 2013: Elysium, Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9. Originally scheduled for release in March, but frustratingly pushed back to August, we have yet to see a trailer for Elysium, but some enticing images and details have filtered out.
Set in the future, in concerns an orbiting space station above Earth where the elite (including Jodie Foster) live, and for which the film is named. Matt Damon (Mystic Pizza) plays a lowly resident of a scorched Earth who is doing his best to reach Elysium, and his main antagonist is played by District 9 lead Sharlto Copley.
While the tech elements and visuals in District 9 turned my eyes inside out, it was the emotional heft and allegorical weight of the story that made it such a modern classic. I'm kinda disappointed that Elysium isn't being produced by Peter Jackson (like District 9 was), but I'm confident Blomkamp can seal his rep as the most exciting genre director working today with the film.
When Spike Lee scored the biggest box office hit of his career in 2006 with Inside Man, it seemed from some perspectives to herald a new era in the controversial auteur's career - an era that would potentially see him making more mainstream films and working more closely with the big studios.
Since then however, Lee has alternated between widely-acclaimed documentaries (When The Levees Broke; Bad 25) and not widely-acclaimed niche dramas (Miracle At St. Anna; Red Hook Summer). But he's taking another shot at a mainstream success with his next film, a remake of the 2003 South Korean cult hit Oldboy, which was directed by Park Chan-wook.
Like Primer, Oldboy demands to be seen by anyone who considers themself a serious movie fan. The controversial film is not for the faint of the heart though - some of the revelations are among the most jaw-dropping to ever be unleashed in a movie, and I can't wait to see how Lee brings those into an American context.
The Goonies' Josh Brolin (by far the best thing about Gangster Squad) plays the lead in Lee's remake. In the original film, his character is inexplicably imprisoned in a room for fifteen years, and sets about taking revenge on his captors upon his unexplained release. Sharlto Copley and Elizabeth Olsen also appear.
The American Oldboy will almost certainly water-down some elements of the story, but it's exciting that the film (which at one point had Steven Spielberg and Will Smith attached) is being made at all, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Plus: Bruce Hornsby is doing the music. Yay!
The irresistible plot concerns a group of stage magicians led by Jesse Eisenberg (The Village) and Woody Harrelson (The Cowboy Way) who use their illusionist skills to stage bank heists and give the money to people left out of pocket by large financial institutions.
I am finding myself increasingly fascinated by the cinematic possiblities of the world of stage magicians, and Now You See Me is exactly the kind of thing I want to see, even if it has the potential to be a frivolous mess. But the film has an amazing supporting cast in the form of Michael Caine (Jaws: The Revenge); Morgan Freeman (The Electric Company); Mark Ruffalo (The Last Castle); Dave Franco (brother of James, so good in 21 Jump St) and Isla Fisher (Paradise Beach).
The only worrying element is the director, French action specialist Louis Leterrier, who did a fine job on the first two Transporter movies; a reasonable job on the Edward Norton Incredible Hulk film and a terrible job on 2010's Clash of the Titans. I hope he can get out of the way and let the awesome-sounding plot of Now You See Me sing.
Having long since abandoned my initial concerns that this group of films would skew too nerdily, I'm going to cite Guillermo Del Toro's jumbo-sized monster mash Pacific Rim as the last of my five most anticipated movies of 2013.
Anything on such a scale is almost guaranteed to disappoint on some level, but hot damn if I don't get chills everytime I watch the trailer for this epic undertaking that screams 'Godzilla versus Voltron'. Giant robots. Giant monsters. The world's ultimate fanboy-turned-director on megaphone duties. Stringer Bell. Can't. Wait.
If I was allowed a sixth film, I would probably pick Alfonso Cuaron's ambitious space thriller Gravity.
A glory decade for comic-book adaptations culminated last year with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, and following those and all the other superhero triumphs, I've struggled to get too excited about the prospect of another wave of action adventures about costumed vigilantes. But I would be lying if I denied feeling a truly giddy type of excitement for Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman reboot, Man of Steel.
Django Unchained (which comes out on January 24th) would've been on this list, but I've already seen it. It's amazing. I'm also really really looking forward to; Sin City: A Dame To Kill For; Stoker (from Park Chan-wook, the director of the original Oldboy); This Is Forty; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (more magicians!); Pain and Gain; Evil Dead; World War Z; Kick Ass 2 and The Last Stand. Among others. Sorry that's a few more than five. It's gonna be a good year for movies.
Five must-see movies for 2013
1. Upstream Colour
4. Now You See Me
5. Pacific Rim
What films are you most amped to see this year? Comment below!