Going for the Gold

For better or for worse, the year's true movie season now begins in September, as Hollywood studios and indies alike begin lobbing the good stuff at members of the Motion Picture Academy. Their decision a few years back to hold the Oscars a month earlier has changed release patterns forever. The good news for movie lovers is a newly extended fall movie season. The bad news: an overabundance of riches.

Gems for Fall

The Bubble [September 7]
Two men, an Israeli and a Palestinian, fall in love in this richly complex film from American-born director Eytan Fox (Walk on Water).

December Boys
Lisa Tomasetti
December Boys

Eastern Promises [September 14]
In the singular new film from David Cronenberg, a London midwife (Naomi Watts) runs afoul of the Russian mob, which includes an enigmatic hit man (Viggo Mortensen). Intensely focused performances (and Russian accents) abound, including great and wrenching work by French actor Vincent Cassel.

Feast of Love [September 28]
Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear star in director Robert Benton's artfully compact yet story-dense film version of Charles Baxter's wonderful novel.

Lars and the Real Girl [October 12]
Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, and Paul Schneider form an ace trio in director Craig Gillespie's genuinely funny and very human comedy about a deeply sad man, the life-size doll with which he's smitten, and the Canadian townspeople who come to love her too.

Starting Out in the Evening [November 2]
Andrew Wagner's exquisitely restrained adaptation of Brian Morton's sublime novel about sex and literature and the essential nature of both. Starring Lauren Ambrose, Lili Taylor, and Frank Langella, who is superb, in a career high.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [September 21]
Filmmaker Andrew Dominik's long-delayed adaptation of Ron Hansen's classic 1983 novel turns out not to be a disaster at all, but a lyrical, sumptuously photographed tone poem, one marked by superb performances from Brad Pitt as James and Casey Affleck (who's having a big year) as Ford, and equally definitive work from Sam Rockwell, Paul Schneider, and Garret Dillahunt.

Love in the Time of Cholera
Nick Wall/New Line Cinema
Fall Drama

Fierce People [September 7]
Diane Lane and Donald Sutherland in the burbs, circa 1978.

Blame It on Fidel! [September 14]
Set in 1970s Paris, this is the debut film from Julie Gavras, daughter of Costa-Gavras.

December Boys [September 14]
Daniel Radcliff as one of four Catholic orphans seeking adventure in 1960s Australia.

In the Valley of Elah [September 14]
Tommy Lee Jones hires private eye Charlize Theron to help him find his missing Iraq vet son. Susan Sarandon co-stars in the new movie from Crash writer-director Paul Haggis.

The Jane Austen Book Club [September 21]
Austen-worthy loves and losses amid a modern-day reading group. With Emily Blunt, Maria Bello, Kevin Zegars, and Hugh Dancy.

Lust, Caution [September 28]
Director Ang Lee returns to his native China for a WWII thriller starring Tony Leung and Tang Wei.

The Darjeeling Limited [September 28]
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman are sent across India by director Wes Anderson.

Sleuth [October 12]
Kenneth Branagh directs Michael Caine and Jude Law in screenwriter Harold Pinter's fascinating new take on Anthony Schaeffer's classic play of gamesmanship and deceit.

Rendition [October 19]
Reese Witherspoon as a woman taking on the U.S. government for info about her recently detained Egyptian-born husband. Co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Alan Arkin, and the ubiquitous Meryl Streep.

Reservation Road [October 19]
Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo have an emotional face-off in this suburban drama from Hotel Rwanda director Terry George.

Still Life [October 26]
Director Jia Zhang- ke's contemporary Chinese drama won the Golden Lion at the 2006 Venice Film Festival.

American Gangster [November 2]
Ridley Scott directs this 1970s-era drama about a showdown between a Harlem drug lord (Denzel Washington) and a New York detective (Russell Crowe).

The Kite Runner [November 2]
Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel about contemporary Afghanistan is filmed by Finding Neverland director Marc Forster.

Lion for Lambs [November 9]
Robert Redford directs and co-stars with Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise in this topical political thriller.

No Country for Old Men [November 9]
The Coen Brothers co-direct their adaptation of novelist Cormac McCarthy's thrilling thriller. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin.

Love in the Time of Cholera [November 16]
Director Mike Newell and screenwriter Ronald Harwood (The Piano) adapt Gabriel García Márquez's novel of life and love in turn-of-the-century South America. Let's hope they kept the parrot.

Redacted [mid-November]
Director Brian De Palma's fictionalized take on a March 2006 incident in the Iraqi town of Mahmudiya during which U.S. soldiers raped and killed a young woman and also killed her family.

The Documented World

Lake of Fire [October 3]
In his first film since American History X, the ever-controversial Tony Kaye explores the abortion debate in America.

For the Bible Tells Me So [October 5]
Five Christian families attempt to come to terms with homosexuality in Daniel Karslake's documentary.

My Kid Could Paint That [October 5]
Amir Bar-Lev examines the peculiar tale of four-year-old painting prodigy Marla Olmstead.

Darfur Now [October 12]
Don Cheadle narrates and is one of the subjects in filmmaker Ted Braun's look at six people attempting to bring the world's attention to the genocide in Darfur.

Terror's Advocate [October 12]
Barbet Schroeder (Barfly) examines the life of lawyer Jacques Vergés, infamous in France for representing the likes of Klaus Barbie.

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