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 Cuaron (“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.
“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 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.
“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).
“Metallica Through the Never”: Shot in IMAX 3-D, this thriller centers on a Metallica roadie (Dane DeHaan) who is sent on an increasingly surreal mission during one of the band’s concerts.
“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 Bruhl) during the 1970s, on and off the race track.
“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.
“Gravity”: The early word on director Alfonso Cuaron’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.”
“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 Rodriguez’s campy action series about a machete-wielding Mexican government agent (Danny Trejo).
“Romeo & Juliet”: Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) and Douglas Booth play the star-crossed lovers in screenwriter Julian (“Downton Abbey”) Fellowes’ adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most obscure, least-filmed plays [kidding!].
“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”: Chloe 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 Schwarzegger co-star for the first time (no, “The Expendables” movies don’t count) as convicts who attempt a daring prison break. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom (“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 Bruhl) 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, a 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 sixtysomething 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.,” “Cafe de Flore”), who is poised to break out of the art-house ghetto.
“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 Nelisse) 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.
“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.