At first glance, it looks just like summer: Sequels, kiddie movies, another installment of Hunger Games and a Jim Carrey comedy. But look closer, and you’ll find lots of potential treasures hidden inside this year’s crop of fall films, including David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl, new films by Terry Gilliam, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Christopher Nolan and several real-life dramas based on gripping tales. Here is a list of movies scheduled to open between now and Thanksgiving.
Love Is Strange: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play two gay men who decide to get married — and then one of them immediately gets fired, forcing them to rethink their lives.
No Good Deed: Taraji P. Henson is a wife and mother who plays good Samaritan by letting a stranger (Idris Elba) into her home. Big mistake.
Dolphin Tale 2: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. return for this sequel to the surprise 2011 hit to try and find a companion for the dolphin they saved in the first film.
The Trip to Italy: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon hit the road again in this sequel to 2010’s hilarious The Trip, making their way through six of Italy’s finest restaurants while talking and talking.
The Drop: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini star in this crime drama about a robbery that goes horribly, messily wrong. Don’t they always, though?
The Guest: A soldier returning from a tour of duty overseas introduces himself to a family and claims to be the best friend of their son, who was killed in action. Soon, though, the stranger proves to be up to no good.
The Skeleton Twins: Jon Hader and Kristen Wiig, vets of Saturday Night Live, play estranged siblings who haven’t spoken in 10 years and are forced to reconnect after they try attempt to commit suicide on the same day. Warning: This is more drama than comedy.
The Maze Runner: Dylan O’Brien stars in this adaptation of James Dashner’s novel about a group of boys whose memories are erased. Then they’re dropped into an elaborate maze. May the best man win. Hunger Games rip-off, anyone?
The Notebook: No, not the Ryan Gosling-Rachel McAdams tearfest. This Hungarian drama centers on two kids hiding in a village from the Nazi forces while observing them and learning a thing or two about evil.
A Walk Among the Tombstones: Liam Neeson is a private investigator hired by a drug kingpin to find out who murdered his wife.
Tusk: Although he once claimed he was done with filmmaking, Kevin Smith tried something different with the horror flick Red State and now goes full-hog with this monster movie about a man (Justin Long) who is kidnapped by a loony (Michael Parks) and is tortured into becoming a walrus — mentally and physically. Yeah, it sounds freaky to us too.
This Is Where I Leave You: Four siblings (Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver and Rose Byrne) are forced to return to their childhood home and spend a week there with their mother (Jane Fonda) after their father passes away.
The Boxtrolls: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris and Nick Frost provide the voices for this adaptation of the children’s novel Here Be Monsters about an orphaned boy raised by a cave-dwelling trash-exterminator.
The Zero Theorem: Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton and Matt Damon star for director Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) in this sci-fi tale about a hacker being pursued by a mystery agency known only as The Management.
The Equalizer: Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) team up for this spinoff of the long-running TV crime drama about a retired commando who is forced back into duty to rescue a young girl from Russian gangsters.
Believe Me: Four broke college seniors start a fake charity to pay for their tuition. Hey, it beats getting a job.
Left Behind: Nicolas Cage stars in this remake of the Christian-themed film from 2000, taking over for Kirk Cameron as one of a small group of survivors after the Rapture.
Gone Girl: Anticipation is sky-high for director David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s twist-filled novel about a man (Ben Affleck) who is suspected of murdering his wife (Rosamund Pike) after she goes missing. The more he proclaims his innocence, the guiltier he looks. According to rumors, Flynn tweaked the ending slightly, so brace yourself for a surprise.
Annabelle: A man finds the perfect present for his pregnant wife — a vintage doll in a white wedding dress — that turns out to belong to a murderous satanic cult. If horror movies have taught us anything, it’s that dolls are evil. When will people learn?
The Good Lie: Reese Witherspoon stars as an American woman who takes a Sudanese refugee into her home.
Pride: Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott and Dominic West are among the U.K. gay and lesbian activists who help miners during their long strike in 1984.
Addicted: A woman (Kat Graham) cheats on her husband, and the consequences threaten to tear apart their entire family. apart.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner are the parents of a group of boys who get into an increasing amount of trouble, beginning with an innocuous piece of gum in one of the kids’ hair.
The Judge: A big-city lawyer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his hometown to defend his father (Robert Duvall), a judge who has been charged with murder.
One Chance: James Corden steps in for Paul Potts in this dramatization of the true story of a clerk who became a phenomenon after winning Britain’s Got Talent.
Kill the Messenger: Jeremy Renner stars as real-life journalist Gary Webb, who uncovered the CIA’s role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. and became the victim of a vicious smear campaign for his efforts.
You’re Not You: A terminally ill woman befriends her young caretaker.
The Best of Me: James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are two high school sweethearts who reunite years later in this adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ latest romantic tearjerker.
Birdman: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, Amores Perros) directs Michael Keaton as a fading actor who once played a superhero and is now trying to restart his career with a Broadway play. Although camera trickery was involved, the entire film
appears to be filmed in one single, uninterrupted shot. Take that, Alfonso Cuaron!
The Book of Life: Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum and Ron Perlman provide the voices for this animated tale about a young man who embarks on an adventure to decide whether to continue his family’s traditions or choose his own path.
Dracula Untold: Luke Evans stars as Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes, the real-life madman who inspired the Dracula legend.
Fury: An army sergeant (Brad Pitt) and his five-man crew try to survive impossible odds behind enemy lines during World War II.
Men, Women & Children: Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler (in semi-dramatic mode), Judy Greer and Emma Thompson star in this adaptation of Chad Kultgen’s novel about the sexual frustrations of contemporary teenagers and adults.
John Wick: A retired hit man (Keanu Reeves) is pursued by an old friend (Willem Dafoe) who has been hired to kill him.
Ouija: They made movies out of Battleship and Lego, so why not a Ouija board? A group of friends playing with the popular toy inadvertently awaken an ancient evil. What else did you think was going to happen in a movie called Ouija?
St. Vincent: Naomi Watts, Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Terrence Howard star in this story of a young boy reeling from his parents’ divorce who finds an unlikely mentor.
Nightcrawler: Jake Gyllenhaal stars as an ambitious reporter who plunges into the cutthroat world of L.A. crime journalism, where being too good at your job could get you killed.
Horns: Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry Potter behind in this adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel, directed by Alexandre Aja (Piranha), who wakes up hung over and sporting a gigantic set of horns on his head.
Before I Go To Sleep: Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who has no memory of a traumatic accident from her past. But then she starts to remember and begins doubting everyone from her husband (Colin Firth) to her doctor (Mark Strong).
Big Hero 6: This Disney animated feature centers on the oh-so-cute friendship between an inflatable robot and a mechanical prodigy who decide to form a team of superheroes.
Interstellar: The latest head game from director Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento) centers on a group of space travelers (Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jesssica Chastain, Casey Affleck and others) who travel through a newly discovered wormhole to find out what’s on the other side. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll make us all go whoa!
The Theory of Everything: James Marsh directs this drama about the marriage between physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife (Felicity Jones).
Rosewater: Gael Garcia Bernal stars in this adaptation of Maziar Bahari’s book about a reporter who was detained in Iran and tortured and interrogated for more than 100 days.
Beyond the Lights: A pop music superstar (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) falls in love with the bodyguard (Nate Parker) assigned to protect her. Yes, this sounds does sound vaguely familiar to us, too.
Dumb and Dumber To: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise the clownish roles as two blithering idiots who hit the road to find the son Daniels never knew he had. Another entry in the “Sequels Nobody Wanted” file.
Foxcatcher: The Oscar buzz has already begun for Steve Carell’s performance as John du Pont, a multimillionaire who offered to sponsor Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and eventually murdered him. Bennett Miller (Moneyball) directs.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part I: The first film was terrible. The second was better. So even though most fans of the book series say the third novel is the worst, we’re going to get our hopes up for the penultimate installment in this sci-fi allegory about a world divided between the haves and have-nots, and a bow-and-arrow-wielding heroine (Jennifer Lawrence) who may be able to put a stop to all that.
The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Khan — I mean Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician who helped break the German code that allowed the Allies to win World War II.