A few years back, April was widely considered to be the calm month before the oncoming summer storm – one last chance for studios to slip in their smaller releases before expectations rose considerably. Things have changed a lot since then.

Now, the month is still fairly light in terms of total releases, but what does hit in April is usually of a much higher quality than, say, 10 years ago. Many of the more recent high profile April releases have actually felt like early teasers for summer, and this year is no different. April boasts at least two big releases for 2014, both of which rank pretty high on our most anticipated list for the year. And, of course, it all starts with Marvel.

So, without further ado, here are the 5 movies we’re looking forward to in April 2014.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Release Date: April 4th)

Easily the biggest release of the month for us, Captain America: The Winter Soldier seeks to continue Marvel’s trend of upping the ante in Phase 2. Like the first Thor, Captain America did decent business at the box office, but Marvel is hoping that the success of The Avengers will help push Captain America 2 to even bigger grosses.

More importantly, though, Captain America 2 features a storyline that fans were dying to see on screen well before even Chris Evans was cast. The Winter Soldier is a major player in the Cap storylines, and someone that could have a huge impact not just on this particular film but also on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Still, we just hope that The Winter Soldier will be a fun time at the movies in its own right, and early reviews suggest it is exactly that. We figured that new directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Community‘s excellent S2 paintball episodes) would be able to deliver solid action, but it also sounds like they’ve delivered one of Marvel’s best films yet.

Check out the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Oculus (Release Date: April 11th)

Moviegoers looking for the next The Conjuring or Insidious will want to keep an Oculus, a horror title that is already garnering a ton of positive buzz coming off its premiere at TIFF. Sure, the idea of a mysterious mirror that possesses people isn’t entirely original, but oftentimes it’s the seemingly obvious horror films that turn out to be the best. Not to mention, Oculus stars Karen Gillan in the lead role, a major selling point for our fellow Whovians.

There may not be a lot of weight on Oculus‘ shoulders, but if successful the film can continue the horror genre’s recent dominance at the box office. At the same time, we’re just looking for a genuinely scary film and in that regard it sounds like Oculus delivers.

Check out the trailer for Oculus.

Transcendence (Release Date: April 18th)

While Transcendence is not an actual Christopher Nolan movie it certainly has a lot of the same elements. There’s the intriguing premise and the familiar actors, but of course the real point of connection is first time director Wally Pfister. Many might not know Pfister, but he has served as Nolan’s director of photography for his last handful of films, and now he is looking to break into feature film directing.

However, while Pfister comes from the Nolan school, Transcendence has its own appeals as well. Johnny Depp playing an Artificial Intelligence researcher that eventually becomes “transcendent,” or connected to the whole of the Internet, is one of them, for example. Admittedly, Transcendence sounds like it’s walking a thin line between intriguing and goofy, but we think the people involved will help tip the scales in the right direction.

Check out the trailer for Transcendence.

Brick Mansions (Release Date: April 25th)

The French film District B13 can be cited as one of the first films to use parkour as its main source of action. It wasn’t exactly a runaway hit, but found enough of an audience that Relativity Media and Eurocorp (Luc Besson’s production company and the producers of District 13) sought fit to remake the film as Brick Mansions. Like many of the English language remakes, Brick Mansions preserves most of the original film’s story, only with more familiar actors like the late Paul Walker.

Considering the French-language original’s clever use of parkour, we’re willing to give Brick Mansions the benefit of the doubt, even if District 13 is a perfectly competent film in its own right. More importantly, it will be nice to see Paul Walker in one of his last starring roles.

Check out the trailer for Brick Mansions.

The Quiet Ones (Release Date: April 25th)

While it’s entirely possible that The Quiet Ones – the second horror release this April and the latest scary offering from Hammer Film Productions (The Woman in Black) – might suffer as a result of its close proximity to Oculus, we still think it will be worth checking out next month. The film stars Jared Harris (Mad Men) as a paranormal researcher who conducts an experiment in the hopes of creating a poltergeist. And, as these things are wont to do, the researcher gets much more than he bargained for.

True to form, The Quiet Ones seemingly keeps things small in the hopes of reaping big rewards, and it certainly has the makings of a quality horror/suspense film. There are always at least two or three genre films that strike it big each year, and The Quiet Ones could easily be one of them. At the same time, there are also a few horror flops each year, and The Quiet Ones might instead fall victim to horror fatigue.

Check out the trailer for The Quiet Ones.

Conclusion

Although April is relatively light on intriguing new releases, it still packs quite a punch as far as individual films are concerned. Both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Transcendence seem like the clear favorites to make it big this month, but there are a handful of genre films that could also find success. There are even a few films, like Draft Day, Rio 2, and A Haunted House 2, that didn’t make our list but could be entertaining. Still, all eyes will be watching Marvel in April to see how far this train can go.

Once again, here are the 5 films we are looking forward to in April 2014:

  • April 4th: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • April 11th: Oculus
  • April 18th: Trascendence
  • April 25th: Brick Mansions, The Quiet Ones

What about you? Which films are you looking forward to seeing this month?

Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina