The Weird Trend: Iron Man 3 and Man Of Steel prove that, in the cinematic version of 'Animal, Vegetable or Mineral,' there's only one way to go for the superheroes: metal!
Possible Explanation: The pitch meeting at Warner Brothers. "Iron is merely an element, but steel is an alloy that adds a bunch of other stuff to iron. Ergo, Steel beats Iron." One for the chemists there.
The Weird Trend: At the beginning of the year, we had Movie 43 . Coming soon is 42 . It can only be a matter of time before the release of 41 Samurai or whatever.
Possible Explanation: Movie 43 is the beginning of an apocalyptic countdown. When we reach zero, all bets are off.
The Weird Trend: In recent years, Hollywood has looked to China ( Looper , The Karate Kid ) for its Far East locations. In 2013, it's the turn of Japan, playing a prominent role in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Wolverine .
Possible Explanation: It's a decade since Hollywood camped out in Japan to make Kill Bill , Lost In Translation and The Last Samurai . These things are cyclical.
A Load Of Bull
The Weird Trend: Let's hope the audiences for Belgian art-house cinema and Sylvester Stallone action movies didn't get confused in January, when Bullhead was released within weeks of Bullet To The Head .
Possible Explanation: The films are so wildly divergent that it's likely nobody working on either project was even aware of the other's existence until it was too late.
The Weird Trend: To lose one colon from a film title ( Oz The Great And Powerful ) may be considered a misfortune. To lose two ( Star Trek Into Darkness ) looks like carelessness.
Possible Explanation: Who knows - maybe the Hollywood Punctuation Union is on strike?
Morgan And Melissa
The Weird Trend: April 2013. You basically couldn't walk into a cinema without seeing Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo, with the duo uniting in Olympus Has Fallen and Oblivion .
Possible Explanation: Leo's recent Oscar win for The Fighter have put her into the same category of 'heavyweight character actor' as Freeman, and it's just possible that Melissa and Morgan are next to each other in casting directors' iPhones.
The Weird Trend: The names read like the golden age of 1970s cinema: Cronenberg, Cassavetes and Coppola. But actually, it's their kids who all have films out this year: Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral , Alexandra Cassavetes' Kiss Of The Damned and Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring .
Possible Explanation: Nepotism.
The Weird Trend: For the discerning horror movie, simply adding a '2' onto your sequel isn't enough. Hence the forthcoming The Last Exorcism Part 2 and Insidious Chapter 2 .
Possible Explanation: This one's simple. Given the existence of Grown Ups 2 and The Smurfs 2 , producers will try anything to disassociate themselves.
More Than A Name
The Weird Trend: Telling us about the character in the title is all the rage, as cinemagoers watch the adventures of Jack ( The Giant Slayer ), Oz ( The Great And Powerful ) and John ( Dies At The End ).
Possible Explanation: Trying to retain a bit of mystique about the character hasn't seemed such a hot idea since John Carter lost his 'Of Mars' suffix.
The Weird Trend: You wait a lifetime for the word 'Stoker' to crop up in a film title and then two rock up within two months. Park Chan-wook's bonkers noir Stoker is not to be confused with Alexey Balabanov's Russian crime drama The Stoker .
Possible Explanation: Disregarding the fact that Balabanov's film premiered in 2010 and has taken three years to reach U.K. cinemas, it's worth bearing in mind the many meanings of the shared title. Park's use of Stoker is a nod to Dracula creator Bram, while Balabanov's hero is actually a guy who shovels coal into a boiler.
The Weird Trend: Two Oscar-winning directors turned their attention to psychiatry in as many months earlier this year, with Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects quickly followed by Danny Boyle's Trance .
Possible Explanation: Both filmmakers live on the experimental edge of mainstream; as such, the chance of playing visual mind-games through the prism of a commercial thriller must appeal.
Word Comma Repeat
The Weird Trend: Superfluous word alert! Both The Way, Way Back and Runner, Runner double-up their words, with only a strategically placed comma to separate them.
Possible Explanation: There's a Buy One, Get One Free promotion going down in Tinseltown.
The Weird Trend: What is this, 2002? Vin Diesel cements the unlikely rejuvenation of his fortunes as the sixth film in the resurgent Fast And Furious franchise is joined by sci-fi trilogy capper Riddick .
Possible Explanation: The guy's earned it for sheer commitment to the roles that made his name. Be nice to see him do something different next time, mind.
Just Add Olga
The Weird Trend: There must be something about Olga Kurylenko that screams 'love triangle,' given she found herself fighting another lady for her fella's attention in both Oblivion and To The Wonder .
Possible Explanation: Casting directors must have the same fantasies when it comes to threesomes.
If It Ain't Broke
The Weird Trend: Yet another title coincidence saw Broken ( British , gritty) released within a week of Broken City (American, shiny) in cinemas.
Possible Explanation: These two actually had the same distributor, so we're presuming there's some kind of masterplan beyond confusing the hell out of everybody.
A Lotta Liotta
The Weird Trend: When Killing Them Softly was released last year, it was sad to see Ray Liotta playing a crumpled, pathetic wreck. Then came this year's double-whammy of The Place Beyond The Pines and The Iceman , and he's back to his menacing, Goodfellas -era best.
Possible Explanation: Goodfellas is nearly a quarter of a century old. Plenty of time for the kids who fell in love with Scorsese's mob masterpiece to go to film school, make a film and get into a position where they could cast their idol.
It's A Kind Of Magic
The Weird Trend: Remember how, in 2006 and 2007, cinema went ga-ga for magicians ( The Prestige , The Illusionist , Magicians )? Well, it's happening again this year, with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone , Now You See Me… and even Oz The Great And Powerful .
Possible Explanation: There are only so many rabbits you can pull out of a hat before you start to see ones you've already pulled out.
The Weird Trend: One minute, Walton Goggins is being racist and violence to slaves in Django Unchained . The next he's a Civil War-era politician presented with the opportunity to end slavery in Lincoln . That's versatility.
Possible Explanation: There's nothing in Goggins' past career to explain casting directors' sudden obsession with putting him in the 19th Century. Maybe he rented some period clothing and wanted to get value for money out of them.
One Year A Slave
The Weird Trend: While we're on the subject, it shouldn't go unnoticed that a year that began with Django Unchained and Lincoln will end with Steve McQueen's own take on American slavery, Twelve Years A Slave .
Possible Explanation: While slavery is a big subject that periodically crops up in awards-season fare, the current spike could well be a delayed reaction to America getting its first black President - an ideal time to remember how far American society has come in terms of race relations.
The Weird Trend: At least when the world ends, you can enjoy the next stage in mankind's journey through the post-apocalypse with Tom Cruise in Oblivion and Will Smith in After Earth .
Possible Explanation: Must be a Scientology thing. Allegedly.
Money, Money, Money
The Weird Trend: Leonardo DiCaprio continues his habit of doubling up his films. After the 'dead wife' duo of Shutter Island and Inception , The Great Gatsby and Martin Scorsese's forthcoming The Wolf Of Wall Street comprise a 'dodgy deals' diptych.
Possible Explanation: DiCaprio got jealous when Scorsese cast Vinny Chase as Gatsby, and ensured that a) he could to play the role as well and b) he did a financial movie with Scorsese.
The Weird Trend: Remaking classics is nothing new, but hiring talented auteurs is still quite rare... and yet new versions of Carrie and Oldboy are being handled by Kimberly Peirce and Spike Lee, respectively.
Possible Explanation: Sadly, it's probably a sign that no amount of critical acclaim can help directors like Peirce and Lee to get original projects green-lit.
The Weird Trend: Bizarre real-life criminal gangs are the subject of new films by Sofia Coppola ( The Bling Ring , who rob celebrities' homes) and Michael Bay ( Pain And Gain , about bodybuilders involved in extortion and murder).
Possible Explanation: Directors must get the same weird stories cropping on their Twitter feeds as the rest of us.
The Weird Trend: After being a Hollywood superhero, James McAvoy came back home to position himself as an authentic British hero with back-to-back leading roles in Welcome To The Punch and Trance … not to mention his acclaimed turn as Macbeth on stage.
Possible Explanation: Just as filmmakers are aping Hollywood style in recent London-set thrillers, so they need a guy who can cut the mustard.
I Feel Love
The Weird Trend: Directors have porn on their mind in 2013, with Michael Winterbottom's The Look Of Love , Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon and Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman's Lovelace .
Possible Explanation: It's not like the subject has gone away. Yet perhaps the success of Shame has reminded filmmakers of sex's dramatic possibilities.
The Weird Trend: Vanessa Hudgens has graduated from High School Musical by donning a bikini and robbing some banks in Spring Breakers . Not to be outdone, her one-time co-star Zac Efron let Nicole Kidman piss on him (literally) in The Paperboy .
Possible Explanation: One day, we'll get access to Disney's studio contracts and realise that their stars' post-Mouse House career reinvention as a bad-boy/-girl is actually a contractual requirement.
The Hyperbole Squad
The Weird Trend: No more Mr Average. Burt Wonderstone is Incredible , the Now is Spectacular , and Gatsby and Oz are Great . Oh, and the latter is also Powerful .
Possible Explanation: Somebody's bought The Big Hollywood Book Of Positive Adjectives.
The Weird Trend: For years, nobody was quite sure what to do with Dwayne Johnson on-screen. Now they've decided: he's the go-to guy for revitalising tired franchises, with Fast And Furious 6 and G.I. Joe: Retaliation showcasing his gatecrashing ability.
Possible Explanation: Let's face it, if you want to ramp up your movie to 11, who better than the artist formerly known as The Rock?
Get A Room, Brad and Jen
The Weird Trend: A decade ago, we'd be talking about Pitt and Aniston. This year, it is Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who have followed Silver Linings Playbook by reuniting in Serena and American Hustle . She's in The Hangover Part 3 as well, probably.
Possible Explanation: Assuming they're not dating, this one is probably down to good old-fashioned on-screen chemistry. Oh, and the influence of David O. Russell, who is responsible for casting them in two of their three partnerships.
Viva The 1980s
The Weird Trend: Anybody entering a cinema at the beginning of the year might have been forgiven for assuming they'd slipped back in time to a branch of Planet Hollywood, with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis all releasing old-school action movies.
Possible Explanation: Blame The Expendables for making these guys think they can still hack it at this level. The sluggish poor box office returns for The Last Stand and Bullet To The Head (if not franchise-protected A Good Day To Die Hard ) suggest otherwise.
The Weird Trend: In The Place Beyond The Pines , Dane DeHaan has dad issues to contend with when he discovers who his father is. In Man Of Steel , Henry Cavill's Clark Kent has much the same deal.
Possible Explanation: From Heracles to Luke Skywalker, having daddy issues is the surest way to telling an epic story, regardless of whether you're in the art-house or the multiplex.
The Direct Approach
The Weird Trend: One is the British-born 'Master of Suspense' who revolutionised the Hollywood thriller. The other is the French painter's son who defined art-house cinema. Both - Hitchcock and Renoir - have biopics out this year.
Possible Explanation: Presumably, the world's directors spent last year swotting up on their classic cinema in case they got asked to vote in the famous Sight & Sound filmmakers' poll.
The Weird Trend: Did we say one Hitchcock biopic? Actually, there were two: the cinematically released Hitchcock , and the HBO/BBC TV film The Girl .
Possible Explanation: Given a noticeable spike in interest in Alfred's work that saw Vertigo win the critics' wing of the aforementioned Sight & Sound poll, it'd be more surprising if there hadn't been any films about his career.
Shiver Me Timbers
The Weird Trend: The modern-day re-emergence of piracy off the coast of Somalia finally gets onto screens this year, both in art-houses (Danish thriller A Hijacking ) and multiplexes (the forthcoming Paul Greengrass / Tom Hanks collaboration Captain Phillips ).
Possible Explanation: Unless you count The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou , this trend has been long overdue. Once these award-friendly takes on the subject have been and gone, expect a crass, sub- Die Hard -style thriller to follow.
The Weird Trend: Bad girls are 'in' this year, with Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers and Sofia Coppola's forthcoming The Bling Ring both themed around criminal gangs composed of young ladies.
Possible Explanation: Korine and Coppola are both part of the same indie hipster crowd in American cinema. Quite possibly their extended circle of friends is full of such gangs to provide the directors with inspiration.
The Weird Trend: Once upon a time, you could rely on superheroes being consistent. But twice this year we have examples of indecisive identities: Don Cheadle switching his name from War Machine to Iron Patriot in Iron Man 3 - and Christopher Mintz-Plasse rebranding Red Mist as The Mother Fucker in Kick-Ass 2 .
Possible Explanation: A job is no longer for life, and we expect our celebrities to chop and change all the time. Blame Lady Gaga.
The Weird Trend: A trend in one film, as Man Of Steel casts Robin Hood (Russell Crowe) as Superman's dad...and Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) as Superman's stepdad.
Possible Explanation: Man Of Steel is brought to you by the Sherwood Forest Tourist Board.
Who Are You?
The Weird Trend: Gross-out comedy Identity Thief and chilling real-life drama Compliance both involve protagonists who claim to be other people to get their kicks.
Possible Explanation: The Usual Suspects had a bigger influence on cinema than any of us realised.
Korean Invasion (part 1)
The Weird Trend: Park Chan-wook with Stoker , Bong Joon-ho with Snowpiercer , Kim Ji-woon with The Last Stand . Are there actually any directors still working in South Korea, or have they all moved to America?
Possible Explanation: Hollywood has only just cottoned on to the brilliance of South Korean cinema over the past decade - don't forget, Park's Oldboy has now been remade. It's no different to that period during the Nineties when Hong Kong action titans John Woo and Ringo Lam were seduced into Hollywood careers.
Korean Invasion (part 2)
The Weird Trend: Islamic terrorists are yesterday's news. In 2013, the bad guys in Hollywood action movies come from North Korea, in Olympus Has Fallen and Red Dawn - the latter re-edited to change the villains' nationality from the first choice of being Chinese.
Possible Explanation: Take a look at the news. Tensions have been brewing with North Korea for a while. The question is whether Hollywood has been uncannily prescient or whether Kim Jong-un has been incensed after picking up a copy of Variety.
Before They Were Infamous
The Weird Trend: A TV duel based on classic films. In the red corner, Psycho prequel Bates Motel . In the even redder corner, Red Dragon prequel Hannibal .
Possible Explanation: The rights to Manos: The Hands Of Fate were unavailable.
2013 Is The New 2012
The Weird Trend: All the most anticipated films of this year...were meant to come out last year. Well, The Great Gatsby , Gangster Squad and World War Z were, anyway.
Possible Explanation: They were desperate to be namedropped in this feature.
I Wanna Be Adored
The Weird Trend: A Summer Stone Roses revival sees Shane Meadows' documentary Made Of Stone followed by comedy Spike Island , about a gang of lads attending the band's seminal 1990 gig.
Possible Explanation: The reformed band's comeback gigs in 2012 have obviously spurred a bout of nostalgia amongst directors who grew up with the Roses.
The Weird Trend: OK, it started last year with Skyfall and The Sweeney , but Welcome To The Punch and Trance have continued an obsession amongst home-grown directors to fetishise modern London as a Heat -style metropolis where cops and robbers duke it out.
Possible Explanation: A multitude of new landmarks, from the London Eye to The Shard, have given the capital's skyline a cinematic makeover. But the timing probably has more to do with the Olympics. We're betting there's a memo doing the rounds to make London look cool.
Bye Bye London
The Weird Trend: What have we done to deserve this? In G.I. Joe: Retaliation , Star Trek Into Darkness and Thor: The Dark World , London gets pulverised from enemy aggressors.
Possible Explanation: As we pointed out earlier, the London skyline has changed a lot in recent years, and it suddenly looks cool enough to smash. Or it could just be jealousy over the Olympics.
The Weird Trend: The apocalypse is nothing new in cinema, but to have two similarly-themed comedies ( This Is The End , The World's End ) about a group of friends trying to survive it is something different.
Possible Explanation: We're guessing that - at some point during the past few years - directors Seth Rogen and Edgar Wright drunken came up with the idea for the film and then woke up the next morning thinking it was theirs alone.
The Weird Trend: The letters Q U A R T E T have been pulled out of the Scrabble bag twice in recent months, with Dustin Hoffman's Quartet quickly followed by Yaron Zilberman's A Late Quartet . Honourable mention, too, to fellow 'elderly musicians' movie A Song For Marion , but points off for not finding four actors to allow it to use the Q-word.
Possible Explanation: There is no shortage of aging stars around to populate the growth of the 'grey pound' movie, but the choice of music as a subject is harder to fathom, unless it's something to do with the success of Susan Boyle.
The Ford Production Line
The Weird Trend: Virtual recluse Harrison Ford, who has only 12 credits since the Millennium, has FOUR films out in 2013: 42 , Ender's Game , Paranoia and Anchorman: The Legend Continues .
Possible Explanation: He's in training for the big one - the mooted return of Han Solo in Star Wars Episode VII .
Incident At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
The Weird Trend: Attacks on the White House are de rigeur this year. No sooner has Gerard Butler seen off the Koreans in Olympus Has Fallen , than Channing Tatum has to save the day in Roland Emmerich's forthcoming White House Down .
Possible Explanation: Olympus ' action-movie throwback suggests Hollywood has been biding its time, waiting for a sufficient gap since 9/11 to restart attacking American landmarks. Or it could be a delayed reaction to when 24 did the same plot during its 2009 season.
2004: The Sequel
The Weird Trend: In 2004, Shane Carruth unleashed cult time-travel drama Primer , Will Ferrell introduced Anchorman to the world, Jesse and Céline met up again in Before Sunset and Vin Diesel told The Chronicles Of Riddick . Nine years later, finally, all of those films get their follow-ups.
Possible Explanation: Clearly, a decade is too long, forcing everybody to race to beat the deadline.