THE first few weeks of the new cinema year bring, as always, many of the Oscar wannabes.

New films from Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino are always highly anticipated, and with Lincoln and Django Unchained they'll be hoping to match critical with commercial success.

Lavish musical Les Misérables will be a major player in the awards race, and Kathryn Bigelow will be hoping to repeat her Hurt Locker success with Bin Laden hunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty.

But there's some lighter fare around as well, including 1940s bullet-fest Gangster Squad and the long-awaited (by some) starring return of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand.

Bruce Willis marks the 25th anniversary of Die Hard with a fifth outing in A Good Day to Die Hard, and horror remakes in the shape of Carrie and Evil Dead hope to buck the trend of terrible horror remakes.

But spring will barely be sprung when, before we know it, the summer blockbusters will be upon us, promising the usual wonders on paper but inevitably delivering far less.

Superheroes dominate as ever, as Iron Man returns for a third outing, hoping to pick up where Avengers Assemble left off in terms of quality, as will Thor: The Dark World later in the year.

There's another X-Men spin-off with The Wolverine, but all eyes will be on the long-awaited return of the greatest superhero of them all, Superman, in Zach Snyder's Man of Steel.

There's no shortage of sequels, as Star Trek returns with its first, as do Kick-Ass and The Hunger Games, while The Hangover gets a third and supposedly final part.

Comedy fans can look forward to the return of Ron Burgundy in Anchorman 2, while the Fast and Furious franchise makes it to a remarkable number six.

That's just one of several big budget Hollywood movies that were partly filmed in Glasgow, and we'll be seeing plenty of the city on the big screen this year, with blockbusters like Brad Pitt's World War Z and Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks having shot here.

And while the first part may have disappointed, hopes are high for better things when we end the year as we ended 2012, with the second of the Hobbit. movies.


Brilliantly acted and unbelievably moving

TAKING place around the 2004 Asian tsunami, this harrowing Spanish-made drama is based on the true story of a family and their ordeal.

As Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts and their three sons enjoy their Thailand resort holiday, a nice picture of a loving family is painted, setting up the horrors of what they'll soon be made to endure.

The impact of the wave itself is terrifying beyond belief, horrifyingly well done through unobtrusive special effects, as Watts and her oldest son are separated from the others, not knowing if they're alive or not.

The aftermath, as survivors search for loved ones through villages and hospitals, is even more traumatic.

Dealing with the rawest human emotions imaginable, but never laying it on too thick, this is stunning filmmaking, brilliantly acted and unbelievably moving, with miraculous performances from Watts, all three children and a never-better McGregor.


J. A. Bayona

Running time: 114 mins

QUARTET (12A) ***

Rather damp and incredibly slight

NOTABLE chiefly for marking Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut at the age of 75, this gentle and unassuming comedy drama is set in a home for retired musicians and singers.

It's basically The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with added arias, as Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon engage in some good natured ribbing between themselves.

It's with the arrival of Maggie Smith, playing Courtenay's ex-wife, that it comes alive, and she gets all the best lines.

Courtenay is up in arms about her return, but that's about the extent of the drama, with the rest of it taken up by rehearsals for an upcoming gala performance.

It's all very fluffy but rather damp and incredibly slight, but it's a charitable time of the year, which is why it's scraping a third star.


Dustin Hoffman

Running time: 114 mins