James Bond returns, the vampires and werewolves of “The Twilight Saga” bow out, Daniel-Day Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln and Keira Knightley is Anna Karenina.
It's all happening before Thanksgiving at a theater near you.
The fall movie season promises much as Academy Award contenders line up with animated family films, a steady dose of action and some romantic comedy, too.
Let's buzz through the next three months week by week, starting with the Oscar hopefuls:
» “Anna Karenina,” Sept. 7. Director Joe Wright (“Pride & Prejudice”) takes on Tolstoy's 1877 novel, casting Keira Knightley as the wandering wife of an aristocrat (Jude Law). Aaron Taylor-Johnson is her paramour, a cavalry officer.
» “Arbitrage,” Sept. 14. Richard Gere drew buzz at Sundance for playing a super-rich hedge fund manager guilty of dubious practices (read Bernie Madoff), trying to sell his firm. Susan Sarandon co-stars as his wife, and Tim Roth is a detective.
» “The Master,” Sept. 21. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the charismatic head of a 1950s spiritual movement with parallels to Scientology, and Joaquin Phoenix is an alcoholic WWII veteran drawn to it. Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”) directs.
» “Argo,” Oct. 12. Ben Affleck directs and stars in this true-life tale of how a CIA agent smuggled six Americans out of Iran after they fled the U.S. Embassy hostage-taking and hid at the Canadian ambassador's home. Bryan Cranston (TV's “Breaking Bad”), Alan Arkin and John Goodman co-star.
» “The Sessions,” Oct. 26. A paralyzed polio victim seeks to lose his virginity at age 38 by hiring a therapeutic sex surrogate. Oscar winner Helen Hunt (“As Good as It Gets”) and Oscar nominee John Hawkes (“Winter's Bone”) star in this film-fest darling.
» “Lincoln,” Nov. 16. Steven Spielberg directs, Daniel Day-Lewis is the president, and the script by Tony Kushner is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's “Team of Rivals.” The focus is on Lincoln's final four months. Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and others make up an all-star cast.
» “Life of Pi,” Nov. 21. Yann Martel's wildly popular novel about a teen boy lost at sea in a lifeboat with a hungry tiger posed challenges. Director Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Crouching Tiger”) cast newcomer Suraj Sharma as Pi, and shot in 3-D.
» “Silver Linings Playbook,” Nov. 21. Bradley Cooper, just out of a mental institution, connects with widow Jennifer Lawrence in this adaptation of Matthew Quick's novel. David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) directs. Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter's Bone”) and Robert DeNiro co-star.
» LATER ON: December's Oscar-season gifts will include Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit”; Tom Hooper's musical “Les Miserables”; FDR pic “Hyde Park on Hudson”; Quentin Tarantino's “Django Unchained”; and Kathryn Bigelow's “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
BOX OFFICE BAIT
» “The Words,” Sept. 7. Bradley Cooper plays a writer who puts his own name on a found manuscript. The hit book leads to the actual author (Jeremy Irons) confronting him.
» “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Sept. 21. The story of a painfully shy high schooler, based on Stephen Chbosky's novel, becomes Emma Watson's first big post-Harry Potter movie. Chbosky directs.
» “End of Watch,” Sept. 21. Director-screenwriter David Ayer (“Training Day”) revisits the LAPD, casting Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peńa as young cop partners who are best pals. This time they're good guys.
» “Hotel Transylvania,” Sept. 28. A hotel for monsters gets a human visitor in this animated scare-comedy. Voice work by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez.
» “Won't Back Down,” Sept. 28. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis are parents who try to intervene to improve their children's failing inner-city school.
» “Looper,” Sept. 28. Mob assassins kill targets from a time-travel future in this sci-fi thriller. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the younger-older versions of a killer.
» “Taken 2,” Oct. 5. This time the kidnap target is his ex-wife (Famke Janssen). But CIA killing machine Liam Neeson has lost none of his take-no-prisoners attitude.
» “The Paperboy,” Oct. 5. Director Lee Daniels (“Precious”) casts Nicole Kidman as a head-case floozie who gets Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron to help a pen pal (John Cusack) escape death row.
» “Frankenweenie,” Oct. 5. Tim Burton's new stop-motion cartoon is about a mad scientist who brings his dog back to life, then has to deal with freaked out neighbors. In black-and-white 3-D.
» “Here Comes the Boom,” Oct. 12. A biology teacher (a slimmer Kevin James) tries to raise funds to help a music teacher (Henry Winkler) keep his job by competing in a mixed-martial arts tournament.
» “Seven Psychopaths,” Oct. 12. Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) wrote and directs this tale of a mobster (Woody Harrelson) who goes on the rampage after his dog is stolen. Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell are targets. Christopher Walken and Tom Waits co-star.
» “Alex Cross,” Oct. 19. Get ready for Tyler Perry as the action hero from the bestselling James Patterson's novels. The detective's target is a hit-man cage fighter (Matthew Fox).
» “The Big Wedding,” Oct. 26. Angry, divorced Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro paste on a smile for their son's wedding. Co-stars Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon.
» “Cloud Atlas,” Oct. 26. The Wachowski siblings direct Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant in multiple roles, time periods and countries in a study of courage and betrayal based on David Mitchell's novel.
» “Wreck-It Ralph,” Nov. 2. A video-game villain rebels against his programming, jumping into other games to play the hero in this animated romp. Voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch.
» “The Man With the Iron Fists,” Nov. 2. Rapper RZA (Wu-Tang Clan) directs a martial-arts story set in 19th century China about a brothel madam (Lucy Liu), a mercenary (Russell Crowe), a blacksmith (RZA himself) and a gold shipment.
» “Flight,” Nov. 2. Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future”) helms a drama starring Denzel Washington as a pilot whose heroism lays bare his alcoholism. John Goodman plays a drug dealer, Don Cheadle a lawyer, Melissa Leo a federal investigator.
» “Skyfall,” Nov. 9. Daniel Craig is back as suave 007, and Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) directs, with Naomie Harris as an ambitious new secret agent. Villain Javier Bardem leads a plot to destroy MI6.
» “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” Nov. 16. The final chapter based on Stephenie Meyer's vampire-werewolf trilogy finds Bella (Kristen Stewart) fighting for her half-human daughter. Expect a plot surprise that departs from the book.
» “Rise of the Guardians,” Nov. 21. An animated tale of how Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Jack Frost (Chris Pine) fight a villain (Jude Law) who schemes to rule the planet.
» “Red Dawn,” Nov. 21. Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Josh Hutcherson (“Hunger Games”) star in this remake of a 1984 Russian-invasion movie. In this one, it's the Koreans who try to rule America.
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