Pop Culture

Movie stars, monsters and Muppets: 7 must-see films for 2014

The new slate of movies spreads out in front of us like a blanket of new-fallen snow. So much sparkle! So much promise! The flops are as yet unknown, and every production could be an Oscar winner. Well, not really, but you can't blame us for wishing.

Claudette Barius / Today
Matt Damon and George Clooney star in "Monuments Men," which opens Feb. 7.

Here's a look at 7 films to put on your calendar for 2014.

If you love movie stars and history
"Monuments Men" has it all: huge stars, including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett. It's a based-on-a-true-story historical plot about World War II soldiers fighting to save buildings, bridges and art from destruction by the Nazis. We're getting in line for this one now, and we won't come back till it's over over there. (Opens Feb. 7.)

If you have kids
It's a good year for family films, with "Rio 2," "Maleficent," "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and even an "Annie" remake on the way. But we're most excited for "Muppets Most Wanted," in which green guy Kermit is mistaken for the world's greatest criminal. The star-studded cast includes Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Christoph Waltz, Lady Gaga and more, but we're more excited about the Muppets. (Fozzie! Miss Piggy! Statler and Waldorf!) It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights. (March 21)

If you like quirky
Wes Anderson's movies ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums") aren't for everyone, but his fans adore his distinct and quirky style. It appears to be on full display in "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which throws a poor "junior lobby boy in training" into the middle of a scandal over a bequeathed painting. But the plot summary doesn't convey the jumpy, stylish, idiosyncratic Anderson Way. Watch the trailer and see for yourself. (Opens March 7.)

If you're looking for the next big thing
So maybe "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" are passe. The new book trilogy that will become a film series is "Divergent," by young author Veronica Roth. She writes of a futuristic Chicago where all 16-year-olds take a (bizarre) test that splits them into one of five factions, and they use those results to choose which group to join. Unless, of course, you fit more than one group, making you "Divergent," and putting you in a whole mess of trouble. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Tobias, aka Four (Theo James), are your new Bella and Edward. Tip for "Downton Abbey" fans: James, who plays Four, played Mary's doomed Turkish lover. (March 21.)

If you were obsessed with the Laci Peterson case
In 2012, it seemed someone on every bus, in every airport, was reading Gillian Flynn's novel "Gone Girl," the enthralling tale of beautiful couple Nick and Amy Dunne, and the complicated drama that ensues when Amy disappears, and it appears Nick could be involved. But nothing here is straightfoward, and the social commentary is subtle but smart. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star, with Reese Witherspoon producing. (Oct. 3.)

If you liked 'Gravity'
If smart sci-fi films light your rocket, you've got a couple to look forward to this year. Johnny Depp stars in "Transcendence" in April, Mila Kunis in "Jupiter Ascending" in July. But the one we're really excited about is "Interstellar," which like "Transcendence," involves Christopher Nolan (he directs "Interstellar," is an executive producer on "Transcendence"). Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain star in the film, which is reportedly about explorers who use a wormhole to travel through space. The teaser trailer keeps it all nicely mysterious. (Nov. 7.)

If you long for good old-fashioned action
Look, even Godzilla devotees didn't care for the 1998 Matthew Broderick movie about the legendary Japanese monster. But hope springs eternal, as the trailer for the 2014 version of "Godzilla," with Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, looks pretty kaiju-riffic. Oh, and watch out, Cranston. We know you're Heisenberg, but in this movie, Godzilla is the one who knocks. (May 16.)