With the new year in full swing, here’s a month-by-month look at some of the best movies that will lead up to what will truly be an epic summer for movies.

January: Zero Dark Thirty

This military movie was nominated for multiple Academy Awards for 2012, seeing a limited release in L.A. on December 18, and a wide release on January 11 of 2013. Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, and Joel Edgerton, Zero Dark Thirty follows the military operation leading to and surrounding the events that lead to the death of Osama bin Laden.

February: Stand Up Guys

Released on February 1, 2013, Stand Up Guys stars Christopher Walken and Al Pacino as aging (aged, rather) former gangsters with a longstanding friendship. When Al Pacino’s character gets out of jail, Walken is instructed to kill his former best friend.

March: Emperor

The first big plug that Emperor got was during the 2013 Super Bowl, when a spot aired during the game. Emperor looks to be an interesting and heartfelt historical drama that centers around the Japanese role in Pearl Harbor (after-the-fact) and stars Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones.

April: Pain and Gain

I love Mark Wahlberg and I love The Rock (a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson for those of you who didn’t grow up watching him as a wrestler), which is why Pain and Gain is my April pick for 2013. This one looks like it will be chock full of great cinematography, good acting, and a fresh mix of action and humor.

May: Iron Man 3

Last but not least, Iron Man 3 is going to hit the box office in May, a month before the official summer season starts (and thank God, because competing against movies like After Earth, Man of Steel, and World War Z would have made for a near impossible pick). Ben Kingsley will be playing The Mandarin, and it’s looking like there will be an ominous turn of events for Tony Stark. To me, this is easily the one movie to watch for in pre-summer 2013.

Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast, writer of movie reviews, and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com which has great information on actors such as Anthony Hopkins and films like Iron Man 3. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites like Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.