Photo: Walt Disney Pictures/DreamWorks Animation/Summit Entertainment
Summer is coming to an end, and with it the summer movie season draws to a close. The time for crowd-pleasing blockbusters is over, and in their place the multiplexes fill with serious, award-worthy films. You know the type: highbrow dramatic works about sparkly vampires, swashbuckling cats, and singing frogs.
OK, so the fall movie season isn't just about Oscar-caliber artistry. There are some hotly anticipated crowd-pleasers coming to theaters between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. You'll get the beginning of the end of the "Twilight" franchise with "Breaking Dawn - Part 1." Shrek's pal Puss in Boots will sink his claws into a solo adventure. And after over a decade away, the Muppets are returning to movie theaters in a musical comedy extravaganza. Here are our top ten picks to see in the coming months.
Release Date: September 16
Nicolas Winding Refn is not your average action director; he makes intense tales of masculinity that are equal parts grindhouse and art house. For "Drive," which won him a best director prize at this year's Cannes Film Fest, Refn teams up with Ryan Gosling for a gritty noir about a stunt driver who gets on the wrong side of the mob. It also stars Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, and comedy legend Albert Brooks playing against type as a brutal gangster.
Release Date: September 23
In this adaptation of the bestselling book from Michael Lewis, author of "The Blind Side," Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the real-life general manager of the cash-strapped Oakland A's. Beane decided that the old ways of choosing players was wrong, and in doing so changed the way baseball is played. It also stars Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman with a screenplay from Academy Award winners Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin.
Release Date: September 30
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Inception") plays a young guy who's world is turned upside-down when he's diagnosed with cancer, and Seth Rogen is his best friend trying to keep his spirits up. He also gets professional help from an attractive young therapist played by Anna Kendrick, who was nominated for an Oscar for "Up in the Air." The movie is inspired by a true story from Rogen's own life, and it finds laughs in a heartbreaking situation.
THE IDES OF MARCH
Release Date: October 7
The awards season gets into full swing with the release of this political drama starring and directed by George Clooney. Loosely based on Howard Dean's 2004 presidential run, Clooney plays a candidate harboring a devastating secret. It costars Ryan Gosling (he's having a busy year) along with a host of Academy Award winners/nominees -- Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Release Date: October 14
You like dancing? You like the '80s? You'll get both with this remake of the beloved Reagan-era dance flick. Newcomer Kenny Wormald takes on the Kevin Bacon role (let's hear it for the boy) who romances a small-town girl played by Julianne Hough from "Dancing With the Stars." It's directed by Craig Brewer, who made the Oscar-winning "Hustle and Flow."
PUSS IN BOOTS
Release Date: November 4
A feline as adventuresome and stylish as Puss in Boots deserves a movie all his own. In this prequel to the "Shrek" movies, Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the fearsome furball, and he is joined by Salma Hayek as alluring Kitty and Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty.
Release Date: November 9
J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, was the most feared man in Washington, keeping files on reporters, politicians, movie stars, and anyone else deemed a possible subversive. Yet he had a secret life of his own. Leonardo DiCaprio plays America's conflicted top cop in this biopic directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Dustin Lance Black, who won the Best Screenplay Oscar for "Milk."
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1
Release Date: November 18
William and Kate's royal wedding is about to be the second biggest marriage ceremony of the year. Bella and Edward are tying the knot in the first half of the last "Twilight" tale. But their nuptials will have severe repercussions for themselves and everyone they love. From Jacob's broken heart, a honeymoon in Rio, and an inexplicable and life-threatening pregnancy, the movie is packed with the gripping moments that Twi-hards have been dying to see on screen. And look for "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" to be on many fans' list of most anticipated movies of fall 2012.
Release Date: November 23
Jim Henson's creations are back on the big screen for the first time in 12 years. Jason Segel ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall") co-wrote and stars as a small-town guy who comes to L.A. to rally the Muppets together to save their beloved theater. Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, and the whole gang are all back, along with human costars Amy Adams, Chris Cooper and a huge array of celebrity cameos.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLIDER, SPY
Release Date: December 9
If you want to know what being a spy is really like, forget James Bond and look to John Le Carre. He actually worked for MI5 and has written some of best works out there on the paranoid world of espionage. This adaptation of his novel "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," star top British actors Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy, and is directed by Tomas Alfredson, the man behind the creepy vampire flick "Let the Right One In."
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