Commentary: 10 movies that can't miss in 2013

A scene from J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

A scene from J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

I stopped believing in "sure things" when I was 16.

That summer, I worked the night shift at a Jersey shore restaurant as a busboy. Each afternoon, I transformed into a degenerate teenage gambler. I didn't lose a lot of money because I didn't have a lot of money, but I played the ponies regularly and sat in a reserved box when I went to the track.

One night, a professional gambler who was a restaurant regular gave my boss a tip on a horse that couldn't lose. Rumor had it that the trainer of the horse had been holding him back in an attempt to jack up the odds.

Finally, it was time to collect. The horse was going off at 16-1, and he was so lightly regarded from his previous races that he had been dropped in class so that he was competing against inferior animals.

I ran all over town trying to raise money for the bet, and eventually amassed a fortune. I think it was around $60.

The next day, I went to the track and placed the bet. As the race was about to begin, I started to fantasize about how I would spend my winnings. When the bell rang, my horse accidentally bumped the starting gate and got turned around. He stood there dazed and confused, and by the time he realized which way he was supposed to run, the rest of the field was halfway to the finish line.

My horse lost by a nose, proving that the tip wasn't bad, but there are no sure things. It also proved that crime doesn't pay, and there are no shortcuts in life. It was a lapse in judgment to go along with a "fix," but I was a stupid teenager.

I have tried to live an honest life in the ensuing years, but I still feel strongly that there are no sure things.

Nowhere is that more true than in Hollywood, where nothing is guaranteed. For instance, the 1992 movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which starred Kristy Swanson, had so much positive buzz surrounding it that everyone in town agreed that it couldn't miss. So-called experts promised that you could bet the farm on it. Well, it bombed.

That said, here are 10 movies in 2013 that are sure things at the box office. These are not necessarily the best movies of the coming year, but the ones that seem ... well, like a sure thing. In chronological order:

1. "Iron Man 3" (May 3)

Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark battles the formidable Asian foe known as The Mandarin, played by noted Asian actor Ben Kingsley. Huh?

2. "Star Trek Into Darkness" (May 17)

Director J.J. Abrams is back at the helm, and Chris Pine returns as James T. Kirk to lead the crew of the Enterprise into the final frontier in pursuit of a terrorist who turned Starfleet into a shambles.

3. "The Fast and the Furious 6" (May 24)

After the fifth chapter in the film series made $626 million at the box office, it was a sure thing that we'd see a sixth. Dwayne Johnson joins Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

4. "The Hangover Part III" (May 24)

An Orange County freeway was closed for weekend filming of this sequel, so looking for familiar local landmarks is the only reason I can think of to pay to see this movie.

5. "Man of Steel" (June 14)

Zack Snyder ("300," "Watchmen") directs this origins story that stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane.

6. "The Wolverine" (July 26)

The world can be divided into two camps - people who love the singing and dancing Hugh Jackman, and people who prefer the actor in his recurring role as this iconic Marvel character. Wouldn't it be funny to run a double feature of "The Wolverine" and "Les Misérables"?

7. "Thor: The Dark World" (Nov. 8)

Chris Hemsworth is back from his battles in "The Avengers" to do a little solo world-saving again. This time, he faces a gang of Dark Elves.

8. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Nov. 22)

It's still mind-boggling that young actress Jennifer Lawrence successfully alternates teen action movies with Oscar-nominated turns in more adult fare.

9. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Dec. 13)

There were media naysayers who insisted that the first part of the trilogy wasn't very good and had a disappointing opening weekend at the box office. Truth is that the film received the highest score in a national survey of moviegoers who had just seen it, and the opening weekend's gross was $223 million.

10. "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (Dec. 20)

The anchorman who is more man than most is back after a nine-year absence. What took so long, Will Ferrell?

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