If you haven't noticed from all the festival buzz, or the kids trudging back to school or that slight drop in temperature outside, the fall movie season is finally gearing up, helping us leave behind the thrilling blockbusters of summer and move along to the headier, chillier and sometimes even more thrilling films of autumn. From Oscar hopefuls to holiday-season blockbusters and everything in-between, the fall movie crop can often be the year's most exciting, and from what we can tell, 2012 is no exception.

There's no way we can possibly highlight everything we're excited to see between now and December, but below, we give a sampling of the movies we're most feverishly anticipating-- and starting with one due in theaters next week. We've divided them up into categories-- it's not all Oscar bait, we promise-- and guarantee there's at least something in this lineup you'll be thrilled to catch in theaters between now and 2013.


The Master (September 14)
Certain filmmakers have to put in “their time” with the Academy before the get the recognition they deserve. Not Paul Thomas Anderson. The first of his to-date five Oscar nominations came in 1997 – a screenwriting nod for his sophomore effort Boogie Nights. Oscar appreciates Anderson’s obvious talents, and we expect the Academy to fall all over themselves in praise of PTA’s The Master. The cast list alone screams “pedigree.” Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a mysterious religious sect. Two-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix as the wayward soul who falls under Hoffman’s spell. Three-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams as the woman caught between them. Could PTA be the Master holding the Oscar early next year?

Trouble With The Curve (September 21)
Clint hasn’t acted in a movie in four years, and it’s been almost two decades since he’s acted in someone else’s movie. So, either he saw Moneyball and decided to find a role defending aging baseball scouts who don’t use computers, or there’s something quietly awesome about Scott Brown’s script that couldn’t be ignored. Considering Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake also boarded, the latter should be given the benefit of the doubt. Besides, who wouldn’t want to sit in the cheap seats with those three?

Cloud Atlas (October 26)
Can we guarantee this epic and emotional-looking saga from the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer will win awards? Not at all-- it looks far too risky and potentially crazy to be a slam dunk, even with Tom Hanks in the mix. But if Cloud Atlas works as well as we hope it will, it will have all the large scale emotions and star power and technical accomplishment you could ask for this side of Titanic. It doesn't look like anything else angling for awards this year, and that's exactly why we think it has so much potential.

Lincoln (November 9)
From the moment we first saw a picture of Daniel Day-Lewis in costume as our 16th President people have been screaming "Oscar!" Will Steven Spielberg's film about the last years of Lincoln's life live up to the hype? Even if it doesn't, it's hard to imagine this movie not getting any awards traction, with a killer cast-- Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones and many more add to the appeal-- and all the historical significance you could possibly want. Spielberg is coming off a fantastic 2011, and after giving World War I a grand and tearjerking polish in War Horse, we can't wait to see how he tackles the thorny politics and real-life greatness of Lincoln.

Anna Karenina (November 16)
From Joe Wright, the director of the Oscar-nominated Pride & Prejudice and Oscar-winning Atonement, comes an elegant translation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina, adapted by celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard into a sure-to-be stirring drama. Wright's trusted leading lady Keira Knightley returns, but the game changer here is Wright's latest advancement in tracking shots, setting the entire film and its grand sets within a single theater as seen in this six-minute clip. Wright has a gift for bringing an incredible energy into period pieces set within repressed societies, and this creative element is a curious risk that could pay off big.

The Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)
David O. Russell has been making interesting films about fringe characters for years, even receiving Independent Spirit Award recognition for his first two features, but it was The Fighter that put the director in the Academy spotlight. Nominated in most of the major categories, and walking away with the two supporting trophies, Russell’s follow-up, The Silver Linings Playbook, could possibly put him (and/or his cast) right back in the running. Playbook, adapted from Matthew Quick’s tragicomic novel, is about a troubled family full of eccentric characters played by a cast as stellar as his last including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro. And dancing!

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