1. Veronica Mars – It’s what marshmallows the world over have dreamed of ever since the clever, thrilling and original TV series was cancelled mid-season back in 2007. Rob ‘not that’ Thomas and star Kristen Bell’s Kickstarter to fund a movie follow-up that the studio couldn’t get behind was a resounding success, breaking records and taking names with the $2M funding goal achieved in 10 hours and some $5.7M raised overall. With plots and characters that have been copied in everything from Homeland to Scandal, the movie is set to breathe new life into one of the best pop culture heroines ever. Veronica Mars – whose biggest fans include Stephen King and Joss Whedon – is about to go from cult to mainstream.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel, let’s just get gay married right now because Phase Two is already shutting it down. After getting a sneaky peek at the trailer back in October, this adaptation of the comic publisher’s strangest property appears to have everything you’d expect – special effects, all-star cast, cameos – but it also has something else: batshit craziness. From dirty jokes and anti-heroes, to a Vin Diesel-voiced tree and Rocket Raccoon, it’s obvious that with director James Gunn onboard they’re making a very adult superhero flick.
3. Godzilla – How can you not want to see this movie after that trailer? British monster-movie nut Gareth Edwards is at the helm and you know you’re in reliable hands with the guy who wrote, directed and visually-effected (is that a term?) the incredible Monsters. This is someone who understands and loves those ‘HOLY SHITBALLS’ special effects, but – more importantly – he knows how to create that atmosphere of resounding terror and dread that’s essential to a modern Godzilla. Bonus geek points for the oriental score and poster, plus the exclusion of a Puff Daddy theme song.
4. Vampire Academy – Well would you look at how fast I’m back-peddling. In one of five installments in this year’s Adaptation Fixation: YA Edition I wrote in-depth about how much I wanted this film to work, but how unlikely that was going to be. The stream of trailers that have dropped in the lead-up to its Valentine’s Day release make this look like an entertaining mash-up of Blade and Mean Girls. Author Richelle Mead’s rich supernatural world has always been more Buffy than it is Twilight, and that vision seems to have been realised with biting one-liners and attitude delivered quips. Oh, and there’s also that cast of incredibly strong, intelligent and interesting female characters. Booyah.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The first is a severely underrated film in the Marvel universe, which makes it no less brilliant. Leaving behind the charm and swagger of the 40s era, the set-in-present-day sequel sees the return of Cap’s BFFD (Best Friend Forever Dead) Bucky as The Winter Soldier *dun dun dun*. Add to that the inclusion of Scar-Jo as the hella badass Black Widow, some killer fight scenes, Robert Redford, epic set pieces, the poignant commentary about fear versus freedom and - yeah, that kinda says it all.
6. The Fault In Our Stars – John Green’s cancer love story is one of the best YA books ever written. Comparisons to My Sister’s Keeper make me so mad I could spit because this tale is so incredibly beyond a Jodi Picoult weepy I can’t even. The ridiculous controversy surrounding the film’s tagline – “Our sick love story” – already confirms it. The immeasurably talented Shailene Woodley is playing the dark, hilarious and terminal main character Hazel in what feels like perfect casting.
7. The Boxtrolls – The teaser caused sniffling and clapping of hands together with glee in equal amounts. Why? Frankly, The Boxtrolls looks magical. From the studio behind Coraline and Paranorman, Laika seem to have the market cornered when it comes to beautifully creepy stop-motion animated films. This tale of an orphaned boy raised by garbage tolls will be just as touching, but not in a Michael Jackson way.
8. X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Arguably the best storyline from the X-Men comics gets given the big screen treatment. It’s a prospect to give any Marvel nerd a wide on as Fox attempts to Avengers-up their mutant franchise by assembling pretty much every cast member ever. The recent news that Rogue has ended up on the cutting room floor is disappointing, but with the exciting The Wolverine tie-in and Bryan Singer returning … like I said. Wide on.
9. 22 Jump Street – The original was one of the biggest surprises of 2012 in that was a) Actually hilarious and b) Made a shit tonne of money at the box-office. It impressed audiences and critics, which is a rare feat. It’s also my favourite comedy of the past five years. It’s these things – plus Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s bubbling chemistry – that make this a must-see for 2014. “Fuck you science!”
10. Interstellar – It’s Christopher Nolan’s next movie. The end.
Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.