Autumn is the most awesome time of the year. As if the bracingly heady weather weren't enough reason to love the season, fall also means that we finally get to see the good movies. The last few months on the calendar are traditionally jam-packed with quality, and 2006 is no exception.
OK; enough preamble, except to say that release dates are subject to change.
All the King's Men (9/22)
This remake of 1949's Oscar victor (spawned from Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a corrupt politician) stars Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Anthony Hopkins.
Oscar chances: Oh, totally.
Jackass: Number Two (9/22)
Take a break from esoteric cinema and spend some time with Johnny Knoxville and his sadomasochistic chums, who apparently felt there were bones still left to be broken and crotches yet to be pummeled.
Oscar chances: If this is the only movie submitted during awards season, then...maybe.
Matt Dillon channels Charles Bukowski in this adaptation of the hipster poet laureate's semi-autobiographical tome about writing, screwing, gambling, and drinking.
Oscar chances: Dillon getting nominated again this year might be a sign of the apocalypse.
The Last King of Scotland(9/27 ltd.)
Forest Whitaker plays IdiAmin in a screen version of the novel about a fictional relationship between the cruel tyrant and a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy, Chronicles of Narnia).
Oscar chances: Surprisingly, Whitaker has never gotten an Oscar nod. Maybe this'll do it.
Shortbus (10/4 ltd.)
John Cameron Mitchell follows up Hedwig and the Angry Inch with a controversial film about love and sex that actually features the latter in most explicit ways.
Oscar chances: Nope, not unless the Academy suddenly gets hip.
The Departed (10/6)
Martin Scorsese'sBostonization of the Hong Kong action flick Infernal Affairs stars Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as men on opposite sides of the law who infiltrate each other's respective organizations.
Oscar chances: Scorsese will win one day... but most likely for something else.
Little Children (10/6)
Kate Winslet stars as an unhappy housewife who turns the playground upside-down when she embarks on an affair with a stay-at-home dad in Todd Field's (In the Bedroom) adaptation of the novel by Tom Perrotta (Election).
Oscar chances:Winslet nominations are now required by law.
Marie Antoinette (10/20)
Sofia Coppola follows up Lost in Translation with her revisionist tale of the impetuous queen and her court that incorporates modern details like blue Converse high-tops and Siouxsie Sioux.
Oscar chances: Sure; the visuals are no doubt stunning.
The Prestige (10/20)
Christopher Nolan takes a break between Batman movies for this costume drama about a rivalry between two magicians, played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.
Oscar chances: How the hell should I know?
Running With Scissors (10/27)
The big-screen version of AugustenBurrough's best-selling memoir about his unbelievably dysfunctional childhood features Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Oscar chances: Supporting actor nominations all around.
A Good Year (11/10)
Russell Crowe stars as a London banker who inherits a rundown vineyard in Ridley Scott's adaptation of Peter Mayle's novel.
Oscar chances: Maybe you remember last time Scott and Crowe teamed up. It was called Gladiator.
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (11/17)
Jack Black and Kyle Gass share with us the story of their goofball metal duo's origins as they pursue a guitar pick with the power of rock.
Oscar chances: Um, no.
Casino Royale (11/17)
Daniel Craig blows stuff up, frolics with vamps, and finally ends speculation as to whether he deserves to be Bond. James Bond.
Oscar chances: Not ruining a lucrative franchise is the only thing on the studio's mind.
The Fountain (11/22)
Darren Aronofsky's eagerly awaited follow-up to 2000's Requiem for a Dream stars Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman in a centuries-spanning sci-fi love story...
Oscar chances: ...that received a healthy round of boos at the Venice Film Festival.
Fur (11/10 ltd.)
Steven Shainberg (Secretary) directs Nicole Kidman as Diane Arbus in a quirky fantasy focusing on three months in the life of the doomed photographer.
Oscar chances: A Kidman movie at the end of the year? Of course.
The Nativity Story (12/1)
Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar nominee for Whale Rider, plays Mary in Catherine Hardwicke's (Thirteen) live-action version of your neighbor's front lawn at Christmastime.
Oscar chances: Probably not, but Castle-Hughes is such a charmer. And she is playing Jesus' mom, for Christ's sake.
Mel Gibson's 15th-century Mexican action-adventure was already a hard sell, and then he had to go and open his big drunken trap.
Oscar chances: It looks amazing, but Gibson won't be winning any popularity contests anytime soon.
American Hardcore (12/8)
The hardcore punk scene birthed by disaffected Reagan-era youth is memorialized in this documentary stuffed with gritty footage of its groundbreaking practitioners.
Oscar chances: An Oscar wouldn't be very punk rock at all, now would it?
The Good German (12/8)
Steven Soderbergh directs George Clooney (yes, again), Tobey Maguire, and CateBlanchett in this achromatic murder-mystery set in post-WWII Berlin.
Oscar chances: Duh.
The Good Shepherd (12/22)
Robert DeNiro's first directorial effort since 1993's A Bronx Tale stars Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and DeNiro himself in a spy flick that takes place during the Cold War.
Oscar chances: Ooh, Scorsese would be so mad.
Rocky Balboa (12/22)
At 60, Sylvester Stallone writes, directs, and stars in what has to be the final chapter in the Rocky series...
Oscar chances: ...but everyone loves an underdog. Stranger things have happened, right?
Perfume (12/27 ltd.)
Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) resurfaces with his adaptation of Patrick Suskind's famous novel about a man whose quest for the perfect scent turns deadly.
Oscar chances: Depends if Germany submits this dark story or some fluffy Oscar bait.
All the King's Men | Confetti |Factotum |Feast |Flyboys | Jackass: Number Two | Jet Li's Fearless | Once in a Lifetime
The Last King of Scotland (ltd.)
Children of Men | Fallen Idol | A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints (ltd.) | House of Sand | Open Season | School for Scoundrels
49 Up | Breaking and Entering (ltd.) | The Departed | Little Children | Employee of the Month | Keeping Mum | The Science of Sleep | The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Al Franken's God Spoke | Driving Lessons (ltd.) |The Grudge 2 | Infamous (ltd.) | Man of the Year | The Marine | Tideland (ltd.) | The War Tapes
Fast Food Nation (ltd.) | Flags of Our Fathers | Flicka | Marie Antoinette | The Prestige
Babel (ltd.) | Catch A Fire (ltd.) | Lucky You | The Motel | Running With Scissors | Saw III | Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D
Borat | Flushed Away | Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles | The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause | Viva Pedro! | Volver (ltd.) | Wondrous Oblivion
Fuck (ltd.) | Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (ltd.) | A Good Year | Stranger Than Fiction
13 Tzameti | Casino Royale | Come Early Morning (ltd.) | For Your Consideration (ltd.) | Happy Feet | The Hoax (ltd.) | The Return | Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
Bobby | Deck the Halls | Déjà Vu | The Fountain | The History Boys (ltd.) | Let's Go To Prison
The Nativity Story | Van Wilder Deux: Rise of the Taj
American Hardcore | Apocalypto | The Good German | The Holiday | Unaccompanied Minors
Blood Diamond | Home of the Brave | The Painted Veil (ltd.) | The Pursuit of Happyness | Venus (ltd.)
The Good Shepherd | Hurricane on the Bayou | Night at the Museum | Notes on a Scandal (ltd.) | Pride (ltd.) | Rocky Balboa | We Are Marshall
Miss Potter (ltd.) | Pan's Labyrinth (ltd.)