Just as summer movie burnout settles in, along come the films of fall to give us something to talk about other than special effects and action set pieces and how on earth can Batman possibly fight Superman. Sure, there will still be plenty of would-be blockbusters, including another Thor movie and the second installment in the Hunger Games franchise. But there are also new movies from Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Ridley Scott (The Counselor), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), along with several adaptations of popular novels and celebrated smaller pictures that have earned praise on the festival circuit. Here is a list of some of the 50-plus movies coming our way between now and Thanksgiving.
The Family: What if The Sopranos had ended with Tony turning informant and joining the witness protection program? Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer are a married couple with kids hiding out in France from the mobsters they ratted out. Tommy Lee Jones is the CIA agent trying to keep them safe. But old habits die hard. Directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional), who nicely balances dark humor with grave action.
Insidious Chapter 2: Director James Wan (The Conjuring) and screenwriter Leigh Whannell (Saw) reunite for more old-school, PG-13-rated frights in this sequel to their 2010 hit recounting the further adventures of a family (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) haunted by a persistent demon.
Salinger: Screenwriter Shane Salerno (Savages) makes his directorial debut with this documentary exploring the life of the famously secretive author J.D. Salinger. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton and Tom Wolfe are among the famous faces who weigh in on the writer’s legacy.
Short Term 12: This highly-acclaimed indie drama stars Brie Larson as the supervisor of a foster home for troubled teens trying to juggle her work and her relationship to her boyfriend (The Newsroom’s John Gallagher Jr.)
Adore: Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) directs this adaptation of Doris Lessing’s novel about two lifelong friends (Robin Wright and Naomi Watts) who fall for each other’s sons. Because no, that would not be awkward at all.
Battle of the Year 3D: So you think you can dance? Josh Peck plays a basketball coach recruited by an American team to help them win the annual dance crew world championship held in France.
C.O.G.: This adaptation of David Sedaris’ essay stars Jonathan (Glee) Groff as an arrogant East Coast intellectual who moves to Oregon and becomes an apple picker.
Prisoners: The Oscar buzz has begun for director Denis (Incendies) Villeneuve’s thriller about the increasingly desperate father (Hugh Jackman) of an abducted girl and the detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) scrambling to find her.
Baggage Claim: Intent on getting engaged before her younger sister’s wedding, a flight attendant (Paula Patton) gives herself a month to find her perfect man. Djimon Hounsou, Adam Brody, Taye Diggs and Derek Luke are among the eligible bachelors.
Blue Caprice: Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond star as the deranged father-son team who embarked on the Beltway sniper attacks that left 10 people dead in October 2002.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Bill Hader returns as the voice of the hapless inventor who came up with a machine that made food rain down from the sky. Now he must figure out how to deal with the voracious animals that mutated as a result of 24/7 chow.
Cutie and the Boxer: A documentary study of the unusual 40-year marriage between the famed painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko.
Don Jon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and stars in this comedy about a promiscuous online-porn addict who falls for an innocent woman (Scarlett Johansson) weaned on happily-ever-after Hollywood romances and fairy tales.
Enough Said: Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars for writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Walking and Talking) as a divorced single mom who realizes the man (James Gandolfini) she has started to fall for is the ex-husband of her new best friend (Catherine Keener).
Inequality for All: Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich cuts across party lines to explore the devastating impact on the nation’s widening economic gap.
Metallica Through the Never: Shot in IMAX 3D, this thriller centers on a Metallica roadie (Dane DeHaan) who is sent on an increasingly surreal mission during one of the band’s concerts.
Out in the Dark: A gay Palestinian college student (Nicolas Jacob) illegally crosses into Israel to visit Tel Aviv’s gay bars, where he falls for a Jewish lawyer (Michael Aloni).
Rush: Ron Howard directs this no-nonsense, R-rated look at the legendary rivalry between Grand Prix drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) during the 1970s, on and off the race track.
Gravity: The early word on director Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi thriller about two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) sent floating through space after an accident, tethered only to each other, is that the movie is good enough to stand alongside 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Concussion: After getting conked on the head by her son’s baseball, a married lesbian housewife (Robin Weigert) suffers a mid-life crisis, breaks free from the shackles of domestic life and becomes a high-end escort. (No, I am not making this up.)
Runner Runner: A broke grad student (Justin Timberlake) travels to Costa Rica to confront the online gambling tycoon (Ben Affleck) who may have conned him out of his money.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane: Seven years after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, this slasher flick finally gets a release. Amber Heard stars as one of the teenagers having a party at a remote farm who start getting picked off one by one.
Captain Phillips: Paul “Shakycam” Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, Green Zone) directs this fact-based thriller about the 2009 hijacking of an American cargo ship by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks stars as the captain trying to keep his cool under great duress.
Escape from Tomorrow: Writer-director Randy Moore’s already-legendary thriller, shot on location at Walt Disney World without permission, follows a husband and father (Roy Abramson) who learns he has been fired during the final day of a family vacation at the Magic Kingdom.
Machete Kills: Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas and Sofia Vergara join the self-conscious B-movie fun in the second installment of writer-director Robert Rod
riguez’s campy action series about a machete-wielding Mexican government agent (Danny Trejo).
Romeo and Juliet: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Douglas Booth play the star-cross’d lovers in screenwriter Julian (Downton Abbey) Fellowes’ adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most obscure, least-filmed plays.
Wadjda: A 10-year-old girl living in Saudi Arabia enters a Koran recitation competition hoping to use the prize money to buy a bicycle.
12 Years a Slave: Shame director Steve McQueen returns with another artful provocation, this one based on the true story of a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) from upstate New York in the pre-Civil War era who was abducted and sold into slavery. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt co-star.
Carrie: Chloë Grace Moretz takes over for Sissy Spacek as the bullied teen with telekinetic powers in this “reimagining” (AKA “Don’t Call It a Remake!”) of the Stephen King novel. Director Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry) reportedly consulted with Brian De Palma, who made the 1976 original, before shooting began. Julianne Moore co-stars as Carrie’s fanatically religious mother.
Escape Plan: Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger co-star for the first time (no, The Expendables movies don’t count) as convicts who attempt a daring prison break. Directed by Mikael Håfström (1408, Evil).
The Fifth Estate: Having finally put the Twilight saga to rest, director Bill Condon (Kinsey, Showgirls) gets back to real movies with this drama about the price WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) paid after they starting posting classified documents online.
The Counselor: Revered novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road, Blood Meridian) makes his screenwriting debut with this thriller about a lawyer (Michael Fassbender) who dabbles in the drug trade and quickly finds out you can’t just “dabble” in the drug trade. Ridley Scott directs the fall’s most formidable cast, which includes Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Bruno Ganz and Dean Norris.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa: Johnny Knoxville stars as an 86-year-old grandfather who takes his 8-year-old grandson on a cross-country trip, stopping at every inappropriate spot possible (including strip joints, funeral homes and biker bars). Shot largely with hidden cameras using real people, à la Borat.
Ender’s Game: Filmmaker Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) adapts Orson Scott Card’s popular sci-fi novel about an unusually gifted boy (Asa Butterfield) drafted into military school by two officers (Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford) who are helping defend Earth against an alien invasion.
Last Vegas: Four lifelong sixty-something friends (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) head to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. You know, like The Hangover but with the cast of Cocoon.
Man of Tai Chi: Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with this chopsocky adventure about a young martial artist (Tiger Hu Chen) who joins an underground fight club.
Dallas Buyers Club: Even though the film hasn’t yet been screened, Matthew McConaughey is already expected to land a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as the cowboy Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 and given 30 days to live, then resorted to tracking down alternative — and illegal — medical treatments from around the world. Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto co-star for director Jean-Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y., Café de Flore), who is poised to break out of the art-house ghetto.
Free Birds: Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson provide the voices for this animated tale of two turkeys who travel back in time in order to change history and get their species off the Thanksgiving menu for good.
Thor: The Dark World: Alan Taylor, who directed some of the most memorable episodes of Game of Thrones, Mad Men, The Sopranos and Deadwood, makes his feature film debut with this second movie about the adventures of the hammer-wielding God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth). Natalie Portman, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins all return. So does the dastardly Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
The Best Man Holiday: Old flames, ancient rivalries and buried hatchets all rise to the surface when a group of friends (including Terrence Howard, Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut) reunites over the Christmas holiday for the first time in 15 years in this sequel to 1999’s The Best Man.
The Book Thief: In World War II Germany, a little girl (Sophie Nélisse) escapes the horrors of the real world by stealing books and sharing them with other people. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson play her adoptive parents in this adaptation of Markus Zusak’s novel.
Kill Your Darlings: Before they became icons of the Beat generation, the young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe,) Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) were brought together in 1944 after being implicated in a murder by a classmate (Dane DeHaan). Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Jason Leigh round out the cast for first-time director John Krokidas.
The Wolf of Wall Street: Leonardo DiCaprio teams up with director Martin Scorsese for the fifth time (after Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island) for this adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoir about his meteoric rise and inevitable fall as a corrupt stockbroker. Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin and Spike Jonze co-star.
The Armstrong Lie: Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) was hired in 2009 to make a film about Lance Armstrong’s triumphant return to cycling after defeating cancer. But the intensifying rumors accusing Armstrong of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs changed the focus of the documentary.
Delivery Man: Writer-director Ken Scott remakes his own French-Canadian 2011 comedy Starbuck. Vince Vaughn plays the underachiever who discovers his donations at sperm banks over a 20-year period made him the father of 533 children, many of whom suddenly want to meet him.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: After winning the 74th Hunger Games competition, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) go on a victory tour that inadvertently sparks a rebellion. Director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) takes over from Gary Ross, who managed the seemingly-impossible by turning the first novel into a crushingly dull film.
Nebraska: Director Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Election, Sideways) gets out of his comfort zone by collaborating with a new screenwriter (Bob Nelson) and using black-and-white film to tell the story of a cranky old drunk (Bruce Dern) who goes on a road trip with his reluctant son (Will Forte) from Billings to Lincoln to claim a million-dollar magazine sweepstakes prize.
Black Nativity: Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me) wrote and directed this adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play about
a Baltimore teen (Jacob Latimore) being raised by a single mother (Jennifer Hudson) who spends Christmas with his estranged — and strict —relatives (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett).
Frozen: Kristen Bell, Alan Tudyk and Jonathan Groff provide the voices for this animated Disney adventure set in a kingdom trapped in an eternal winter by an evil Snow Queen.
Homefront: Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for this adaptation of Chuck Logan’s novel about a retired DEA agent (Jason Statham) who moves his family to a quiet small town, where he inadvertently makes an enemy of the local meth lord (James Franco).
Oldboy: The trailers for Spike Lee’s remake of Chan-wook Park’s seminal 2003 thriller make the movie look like a shot-for-shot recreation, although there may be some critical plot differences. Josh Brolin stars as the man trying to find out who kidnapped him and held him in solitary confinement for 20 years. It’s hammer time.