Is it just us or are you also ready for some meatier material now that Transformers and barbarians and superheroes have trampled through the movie theaters for the last three months? We’ve rounded up some of the most noteworthy films coming out this season —and even put aside a selection of lighthearted films that will let you pretend you’re still going to the movies just to be in the air conditioning.
Ripped from the history books
These aren’t your average costume dramas. The period pieces most popular with today’s audiences take place within the last 60 years. Though only “J. Edgar” is based on historical fact, these three will no doubt get some award nods down the line, in part for their period charm.
Oct. 28: ‘The Rum Diary’
Johnny Depp continues his lifelong homage to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in this movie based on the author’s novel by the same name.
Nov. 9: ‘J. Edgar’
With Clint Eastwood directing and Leonardo DiCaprio taking a little time off from his best bud Martin Scorsese, this biopic is an easy frontrunner on every must-see list.
Nov. 18: ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’
Set in Cold War-era Britain in the 1970s, this flick stars Gary Oldman as an intelligence expert on the dangerous, potentially deadly search for a Russian mole within MI6.
Ripped off from another movie
Borrowing from an old movie or remaking it entirely isn’t always a bad thing. As a matter of fact, these formulas keep getting repeated because we keep paying good money to see them! Here are some plots that may seem vaguely familiar.
Sept. 16: ‘Straw Dogs’
This remake of the original 1971 film moves the setting to the Deep South, where a newly relocated husband and wife (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth) are confronted by hostile locals.
Sept. 23: ‘Killer Elite’
When is Jason Statham ever NOT a skilled killer on a mission to knock off some dudes? Here, he’s out to avenge his mentor, played by Robert De Niro.
Oct. 14: ‘The Thing’
It’s never too soon for a remake, especially of this 1950s classic that was already remade in 1982 with Kurt Russell starring.
Oct. 21: ‘Paranormal Activity 3’
Why are horror films always the easiest to repeat over and over and over again?
Oct. 21: ‘The Three Musketeers’
This new “Musketeers” differentiates itself with improved special effects and Christoph Waltz.
Nov. 4: ‘Tower Heist’
Billing itself as “an urban ‘Ocean’s 11’” this heist film starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick could be ridiculous fun or a full-on disaster. We’re pulling for the former.
Nov. 23: ‘The Muppets’
There’s nothing wrong with reviving the ever-charming Muppets, this time with a script written by Jason Segel, who also co-stars with the lovable crew.
Ripped from the headlines
Does being “the movie of our time” always translate into big box-office bucks? The studios are hoping so with these thrillers that are all closely (sometimes unnervingly) related to current events.
Sept. 9: ‘Contagion’
This ensemble thriller takes the panicked outbreak of the Avian flu in 2009 and twists it into the realization of our worst nightmares. Steven Soderbergh directs.
Sept. 23: ‘Moneyball’
This baseball movie is based on the groundbreaking drafting methods of Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane. Take comfort, ladies. Brad Pitt stars as Beane alongside Jonah Hill, Robin Wright and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Oct. 21: ‘Margin Call’
This thriller will likely capture the desperate atmosphere of the 2009 financial crisis in a way that Oliver Stone tried and failed at with “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.” More directly based on the crash, director J.C. Chandor’s first film stars Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci and Kevin Spacey.
Oct. 7:‘The Ides of March’
Based on the play “Farragut North,” this political thriller depicts the manipulations behind the scenes of a presidential campaign loosely based on that of Howard Dean. The hot factor is turned way up with Ryan Gosling and George Clooney co-starring as a political aide and electorial candidate,
Light and easy
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you have to wean yourself off the mindless fluff. A steady supply will keep coming.
Sept. 9: ‘Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star’
Nick Swardson plays a Midwestern hick who travels to Hollywood to become a porn star.
Sept. 16: ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’
Sarah Jessica Parker moves beyond Carrie Bradshaw to play a mom trying to keep her job, family and sanity intact.
Sept. 30: ‘What’s Your Number?’
Anna Faris considers the frightening number of men she’s bedded and tracks down each ex in order find her true love.
Oct. 7: ‘Real Steel’
Only two words need to be said here: boxing robots!
Oct. 28: ‘In Time’
Built on the concept of a world where people stop aging at 25, this film stars two of the prettiest twentysomethings around — Justin Timberlake (OK, he's 30) and Amanda Seyfried.
Oct. 28: ‘Safe’
Elite Agent played by (shocker!) Jason Statham faces off with the Russian mafia. We’re beginning to think that this man has a prop gun surgically attached to his hand.
Nov. 4: ‘A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas’
We can’t wait to see what this stoner franchise is going to do with 3-D effects. Hallucination sequences are mandatory.
Nov. 11: ‘Jack and Jill’
Adam Sandler cross-dresses to play his own twin sister. We know, you can’t wait.
Nov. 18: ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1’
Nothing needs to be said here, except: Edward and Bella forever!