The fall movie season kicks off today, just in time to keep the dogs of summer from permanently souring you from going to the cinema. Between now and Nov. 18, serious Oscar contenders (Warrior, J. Edgar, The Skin I Live In) will be crowing for your attention alongside surefire hits as a Shrek spin-off, a Footloose remake and the new Twilight picture. Here is a list of the 40-something movies scheduled to open in South Florida by Thanksgiving. Dates are subject to change.
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star: Adam Sandler co-wrote this comedy for his frequent co-star and collaborator Nick Swardson, who plays a small-town bagboy whose life is changed when he discovers his parents are former porn stars.
Contagion: An A-list cast that includes Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Bryan Cranston star in director Steven Soderbergh’s thriller about the outbreak of a deadly virus and the CDC’s efforts to contain it.
Creature: A group of tourists visits the haunts of a fabled half-man, half-alligator monster.
Higher Ground: Actress Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) makes her directorial debut with this drama, inspired by Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir This Dark World, about a community that is thrown off balance when one of its members begins to question her spiritual faith.
Warrior: The Oscar buzz has already begun for this Rocky-like drama about two brothers (Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy) competing for the title of mixed martial arts world champion. Nick Nolte co-stars as the two men’s father for director Gavin O’Connor (Pride and Glory, Miracle).
Drive: A Hollywood stunt man (Ryan Gosling) moonlighting as a getaway driver for the criminal underworld is targeted for execution after a bungled heist. Carey Mulligan (An Education) co-stars as a young mother who is caught in the crossfire.
I Don’t Know How She Does It: Sarah Jessica Parker finds out if there’s life after Sex and the City with this adaptation of Allison Pearson’s bestseller about a career woman trying to balance her job with her recently downsized husband (Greg Kinnear), their two children and the romantic advances of a co-worker (Pierce Brosnan).
The Lion King 3D: The Disney animated classic returns, only this time it’s in your face.
Straw Dogs: Writer-director Rod Lurie (The Contender) reshapes Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 controversial meditation on violence for a new generation. James Marsden and Kate Bosworth take over as the young married couple who move to a town where the locals (including James Woods and True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard) are less than welcoming.
Abduction: Taylor Lautner attempts to prove he’s capable of more than playing backup to his Twilight co-stars with this thriller about a young man who discovers his entire life is a lie — just as a squad of trained killers comes calling. Lily Collins, Alfred Molina and Jason Isaacs co-star for director James Singleton (Higher Learning, Boyz N the Hood).
Killer Elite: Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro co-star in this supposedly fact-based shoot-‘em-up about a renegade hitman who must rub out three former British secret agents in order to save the life of his mentor.
The Last Circus: Spanish wild man Alex de la Iglesias (Perdita Durango) wrote and directed this pitch-black comedy about the twisted love triangle between two circus clowns and a female acrobat.
Moneyball: After Columbia Pictures balked at his script revisions, writer-director Steven Soderbergh bailed and filmmaker Bennett Miller (Capote) stepped in to make this adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book, about an epiphany by Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who figures out how to stay competitive in the major leagues under a tight budget. Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright. The final screenplay is credited to Steven Zaillan (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network). Not too shabby.
50/50: Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a young man diagnosed with terminal cancer who relies on the help of his best friend (Seth Rogen) to beat the titular odds of survival.
Courageous: From the creators of Fireproof and Facing the Giants comes another drama about Christian faith, this one centering on four police officers whose religious beliefs are tested by a great tragedy.
Dream House: Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz (who recently married in real life) star as a couple who discover their beautiful new home was the site of a horrific murder. Naomi Watts co-stars as the meddling neighbor who knows what really went down.
What’s Your Number?: Anna Faris is a perpetually single woman revisiting her past 20 relationships, wondering if she let her true love slip away among them. Chris Evans is the next-door neighbor who helps her sort out her romantic woes.
The Ides of March: George Clooney directed, co-wrote and stars in this adaptation of Beau Willimon’s play about a governor with presidential aspirations who must learn the rules of dirty politics — and quick — if he hopes to be elected. Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood co-star.
Restless: Gus Van Sant directs this romance between a terminally ill girl ( Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska) and a boy (Henry Hopper, son of Dennis) who likes to attend funerals.
Wanderlust: David Wain, director of the greatly underrated Role Models, teams up with producer Judd Apatow for this comedy about a stressed-out Manhattan couple (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) who decide to buck the system and embrace the counter-culture lifestyle. Turn on, tune in, drop out – you know the drill.
The Way: Emilio Estevez directs his father Martin Sheen in this story about an American who travels to France to recover the body of his son, who died while traveling from France to Spain on foot.
The Big Year: Miami’s David Frankel ( Marley and Me
) returns with this comedy about three avid birdwatchers (Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson) competing for the big prize at a national competition. We’re smiling already.
Footloose: The 1984 Kevin Bacon hit gets a contemporary redo by Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer. Newcomer Kenny Wormald takes over as the big-city teen who relocates to a small town where a reverend (Dennis Quaid) has outlawed loud music and dancing. This is our time, dammit! Kick off those Sunday shoes!
The Thing: This prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter chiller — still one of the scariest movies ever — features the same title but tells a different tale, revealing what really happened to those frozen Norwegian scientists the cast of the original film found slaughtered in Antarctica. Hint: A shape-shifting alien from another planet may have had something to do with it. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Jonathan Lloyd Walker co-star for director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., who makes his debut.
Thunder Soul: Jamie Foxx served as executive producer of this documentary following the alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band as they return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old “Prof,” their beloved bandleader who broke the color barrier and transformed the school’s struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s.
Dirty Girl: In 1987 Oklahoma, a misbehaving high schooler (Juno Temple) and her closeted gay best friend (Jeremy Dozier) decide to leave their troubles behind and head out on a road trip to California.
Paranormal Activity 3: Now that Saw has run its course, a new horror franchise steps in to spawn a sequel every Halloween. This third installment in the hush-hush series promises to be an origin tale — where did that demon come from, anyway? — and is rumored to be set in the 1980s.
The Three Musketeers: Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson (I know, I know; who?) are the titular trio, made a quartet by the addition of the hot-headed D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) and facing off against baddies played by Christoph Waltz and Orlando Bloom.
The Skin I Live In: The new film by the beloved writer-director Pedro Almodovar caused a stir when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Antonio Banderas stars as a plastic surgeon who becomes obsessed with creating a synthetic skin after his wife is burned in a car crash.
Anonymous: Director Roland Emmerich (2012, Godzilla, Independence Day) takes time off from destroying our planet to answer the long-burning question: Who was the real author of all those plays credited to William Shakespeare? Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson and David Thewlis co-star in this possible scenario intended to solve the mystery, written by John Orloff (A Mighty Heart).
In Time: Writer-director Andrew Niccol ( Gattaca, Lord of War) returns with a sci-fi tale that is not — repeat, not — a remake of Logan’s Run. Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy and Vincent Kartheiser are some of the inhabitants of this alternate universe where everyone stops aging at 25. The catch? You only get to live one more year — unless you’re rich enough to buy yourself immortality.
Johnny English Reborn: Exactly what the title promises, with comedian Rowan Atkinson reprising his role as the bumbling secret agent.
Martha Marcy May Marlene: Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sibling of twins Mary-Elizabeth and Kate Olsen, reveals talent run deeps in the family with her portrayal of a young woman who escapes the clutches of a charismatic cult leader (John Hawkes, guaranteed a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination) and tries to rebuild her life under the care of her sister (Sarah Paulson). A haunting, spooky treat that marks the auspicious debut of writer-director Sean Durkin.
Safe: A former cage fighter (Jason Statham), rendered suicidal by the murder of his wife, finds a reason to live in an 11-year-old Chinese girl (Catherine Chan) and math whiz pursued by Russian thugs.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas: Six years after their previous adventures, the pothead pals (John Cho and Kal Penn) have grown apart and lead unconnected lives. That all changes, though, with the arrival of a package in the mail marked “High Grade.”
Puss in Boots: The delightful Shrek supporting player gets his own 3D movie — still voiced by Antonio Banderas, of course. Salma Hayek, Billy Bob Thornton and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro round out the cast.
Tower Heist: Miami homeboy Brett Ratner directs an all-star cast with this crime caper about workers at a luxury condominium plotting to take back the pensions stolen by a Wall Street plunderer. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, Gabourey (Precious) Sibide, Casey Affleck and Alan Alda partake in the high jinks.
Immortals: Visionary filmmaker Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) brings his inimitable style to this recounting of the legend of the Greek peasant Theseus (Henry Cavill) and his war against the tyrannical King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).
J. Edgar: The life and times of original FBI president and famed cross-dresser J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo Di Caprio) are explored in this controversy-baiting biopic from director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk).
Jack and Jill: Adam Sandler pulls double duty in this comedy about an advertising executive (Sandler) who dreads an annual visit: A Thanksgiving visit by his twin sister (also Sandler). Katie Holmes and Al Pacino (!) co-star for Sandler’s usual director of choice, Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Happy Gilmore).
Happy Feet Two: Those irrepressible dancing penguins are back. Just try and resist them.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: The esteemed director Bill Condon ( Kinsey, Dreamgirls) takes over for the final two installments — and tries to class up the franchise — in the ongoing story about a teenage girl (Kristen Stewart), the vampire (Robert Pattinson) she loves and the werewolf (Taylor Lautner) she doesn’t.