Need help deciding which movies to watch this month? Let TheWeek.com be your guide in this ongoing series.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
What it is: Wes Anderson's latest piece of whimsy follows a teenage boy (Tony Revolori) who attempts to help a dapper hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes) prove he wasn't responsible for the murder of an elderly lover.
Why you should care: A new Wes Anderson film is always worthy of attention, but there are plenty of early signs that The Grand Budapest Hotel will be something truly special. In addition to regular collaborators like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman, Anderson has assembled a stellar ensemble cast that includes everyone from Tilda Swinton to Adrien Brody to Jeff Goldblum. The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson's first film since 2012's Moonrise Kingdom — his best-reviewed movie to date — and the early notices for The Grand Budapest Hotel have been nearly as positive.
What else is coming out: Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which revives the popular segment from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show for an adventure starring a time-traveling dog and his boy; 300: Rise of an Empire, which offers an extremely belated prequel/sequel hybrid to 2006 hit 300; Jodorowsky's Dune, a documentary that offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of cinema's great "what if?" stories; Grand Piano, a Phone Booth–esque thriller in which a legendary concert pianist (Elijah Wood) winds up at the mercy of a sniper who plans to shoot him if he misses a single note.
What it is: Veronica Mars is a crowd-funded big-screen revival of the cultishly adored TV series of the same name, which was canceled after three seasons in 2007. The film revival picks up nearly a decade after the TV show's series finale, as Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) returns to Neptune, Calif., attending a high school reunion while attempting to solve a case that involves ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).
Why you should care: Veronica Mars fans don't need to be convinced that this resurrection of the teen detective drama is a good idea — but there's plenty here that should turn the heads of nonfans. Kristen Bell's star has risen considerably higher due to the massive success of Disney's Frozen, but Veronica Mars remains Bell's most impressive performance by a considerable margin, and her eagerness to revisit the character — and the return of virtually every major cast member from the series — speaks to the enduring appeal of Veronica Mars.
What else is coming out: Need for Speed, in which Hollywood tests Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul's viability as a leading man by casting him in a Fast & Furious knockoff; Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club, which follows a group of single moms through life and love; Bad Words, a raunchy comedy about an adult who forces his way into a kids' spelling bee.
Muppets Most Wanted
What it is: This sequel to 2011's fantastic The Muppets promises a wacky crime caper full of Muppet antics and celebrity cameos. When Kermit the Frog is mistaken for an international criminal and thrown into a Russian gulag, it's up to the rest of the Muppets to uncover what happened and save him before it's too late.
Why you should care: 2011's The Muppets managed to honor the franchise's storied history while propelling it forward — and while writer-star Jason Segel isn't returning for the sequel, Muppets Most Wanted has found worthy replacements in Tina Fey and Ty Burrell. The Muppets have earned a permanent place at the box office, and every preview for Muppets Most Wanted has promised more of the same family-friendly anarchy that made the Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and the rest such a welcome onscreen presence.
What else is coming out: Divergent, a Shailene Woodley–starring YA adaptation that Lionsgate is openly positioning as the next Hunger Games; Nymphomaniac: Volume I, in which Antichrist director Lars von Trier tackles sex addiction with an ensemble cast that includes Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgard, and Uma Thurman.
What it is: Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky tackles the familiar biblical story with a massive $130 million budget and a star-studded cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Russell Crowe as Noah himself.
Why you should care: Noah is a considerable gamble on the part of Paramount and New Regency, who bankrolled the project. Though Christian audiences are routinely underserved at the box office, it's rare that such an expensive movie would be pitched squarely at adults. (The Passion of the Christ, which was similarly pitched, cost just $30 million to produce.) Noah has run into all the controversies you'd expect when dealing with this kind of source material, but the early glimpses of the film have been undeniably stunning on a visual level, and Darren Aronofsky's eclectic filmmaking career, while uneven, remains one of the most distinctive in Hollywood.
What else is coming out: Sabotage, an Arnold Schwarzenegger–starring action movie that looks as generic as its title; The Raid 2, an even more violent sequel to the 2011 Indonesian thriller The Raid: Redemption.