2012 has officially drawn to a close, ending a cinematic year that has ranged from the bombast of superhero blockbusters like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises to the measured drama of prestige pictures like Argo and Lincoln. But the end of one year means the beginning of another, and there are already plenty of reasons to get excited about going to the movies over the next year. From June to December, what are the most promising bets for your box-office dollar? A guide to cinema in the second half of 2013:
(Click here to read Part 1, which covers the first half of 2013.)
13. Monsters University (June 21)
After a near-perfect string of movies that stretched from 2007's Ratatouille to 2010's Toy Story 3, Pixar fumbled with the awful Cars 2 in 2011 and the disappointing Brave in 2012. But no one is writing off the animation studio just yet, and the idea of revisiting the main characters of 2001's genial Monsters, Inc. in their younger years is a solid foundation for a new film. In a summer that will be filled with children's movie sequels, from the unnecessary (Despicable Me 2) to the execrable (The Smurfs 2), this looks like the safest bet for families.
14. Pacific Rim (July 12)
Much like April's Tom Cruise-starring Oblivion, Pacific Rim — a sci-fi epic in which humans pilot giant robot suits as they attempt to win a war against extra-dimensional monsters — is particularly notable for the pedigree of its participants. After several aborted films, including an earlier version of The Hobbit and an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, director Guillermo del Toro has assembled a terrific cast that includes Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, and Charlie Day. Legendary Pictures clearly has a lot of faith in Pacific Rim; the studio has already hired screenwriter Travis Beacham to write a sequel.
15. Elysium (Aug. 9)
If you've seen one of the countless paparazzi shots of Matt Damon's shaved head, you've had your first glimpse of Elysium, the first film by Neill Blomkamp since 2009's brainy sci-fi thriller District 9. Like District 9, Elysium is an intensely political sci-fi film chronicling the class divide between the wealthy residents of a space station and a ruined, overpopulated Earth in the year 2159. Damon stars alongside Jodie Foster and District 9's Sharlto Copley.
(Photo: 2012 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.)
16. The To Do List (Aug. 16)
Coming off a year that included strong performances in Safety Not Guaranteed and NBC's Parks & Recreation, Aubrey Plaza headlines this R-rated comedy about a girl who decides to complete a sexual checklist before she goes off to college in the fall. Plaza will be aided in her mission by a game supporting cast that includes Donald Glover, Alia Shawkat, Bill Hader, and Andy Samberg.
17. Twelve Years a Slave (Sept. 6)
It's exciting enough that 2013 will see another collaboration between director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender, who last teamed up for the highly acclaimed Shame in 2011. But Twelve Years a Slave's strong premise, which centers on a man kidnapped and forced into slavery in the mid-eighteenth century, is also buoyed by a massive ensemble cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Paul Giamatti, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Dano, and Beasts of the Southern Wild's young star Quvenzhane Wallis.
18. Gravity (Oct 18)
After years spent in pre-production, with everyone from Angelina Jolie to Natalie Portman in the running for major roles, Alfonso Cuaron's long-awaited follow-up to 2006's Children of Men is finally ready for release. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as astronauts who suffer an accident and end up floating in space, out of contact with anyone who could help them. Though the film's details are shrouded in mystery, the claustrophobic terror of its premise hearkens back to some of the finest sci-fi films of all time, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien.
19. The World's End (Oct. 25)
Director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up for the final installment of their thematically-linked "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy," which began with 2004's horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead and continued with 2007's action movie pastiche Hot Fuzz. In The World's End, five friends reunite to repeat a pub crawl they'd taken 20 years earlier, and discover that their quest has unexpected consequences for the human race.
20. Ender's Game (Nov. 1)
Fans have alternately begged for and dreaded a film based on Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel since its release in 1985. But it took nearly 30 years for a studio to wrangle the novel, which follows a series of children as they attend a military school to learn how to fight in a future alien invasion. Hugo's Asa Butterfield stars as Ender, a child prodigy, in a cast that also includes Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin and True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld.
(Photo: Summit Entertainment/Richard Foreman Jr., SMPSP)
21. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov. 22)
2012's The Hunger Games was a critical and commercial hit for Lionsgate, and there's no reason that its sequel can't be even bigger. In addition to star Jennifer Lawrence, returning cast members include Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Woody Harrelson. They will be joined by new actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, and Sam Claflin, playing the fan-favorite character Finnick Odair from Suzanne Collins' original novel.
(Facebook/The Hunger Games)
22. The Monuments Men (Dec. 20)
Though it's only in pre-production, it's hard not to be excited for The Monuments Men, which follows a series of art historians and curators who team up to protect masterpieces stolen by the Nazis before Hitler can have them destroyed. George Clooney is slated to direct and star, leading a stellar cast that reportedly includes Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, and John Goodman.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
23. Anchorman: The Legend Continues (Dec. 20)
For anyone who'd prefer to spend the week before Christmas laughing hysterically instead of watching a taut thriller, director Adam McKay offers the long-awaited sequel to his 2004 hit Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Will Ferrell returns alongside Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Dave Koechner, and Steve Carrell in this comedy about San Diego's most hilariously incompetent news team.
24. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Martin Scorsese's latest drama, which is based on Jordan Belfort's memoir of the same name, doesn't even have a final release date — let alone a trailer. But anticipation is already white-hot for The Wolf of Wall Street, which follows frequent Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio as a stockbroker who refuses to participate in a securities fraud case. The film's loaded supporting cast includes Jonah Hill and Jean Dujardin.
(Photo: Facebook/The Wolf of Wall Street)