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Celluloid Heroes

Book adaptations dominate notable fall films, Richmond makes an appearance and Clooney gets a hat trick.

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SEPTEMBER

11 Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Michael Douglas headlines this remake of the 1956 Fritz Lang courtroom drama. Whiteout Kate Beckinsale tracks a serial killer in Antarctica in a movie based on a limited-series comic book of the same name.

18 Bright Star “The Piano” director Jane Campion tunes her camera to the love affair between poet John Keats (Ben Wishaw) and his true love, Fanny (Abbie Cornish).  The Burning Plain Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron headline this intricately arranged drama about a daughter (Theron) whose unhappy childhood leads to her own remorseful adult life. Based on a short-story collection by the late Juan Rulfo. The Informant! Matt Damon reportedly gained 20 to 30 pounds (high-fructose corn syrup?) to play reckless Archer Daniels Midland whistleblower Mark Whitaker in director Steven Soderbergh's dark comedy, based on the book by journalist Kurt Eichenwald.

25 Brief Interviews with Hideous Men “The Office” star John Krasinski makes his directing debut with an adaptation of the short-story collection of the same name by the late David Foster Wallace, which pretends to interview several male subjects with unsavory characteristics.

OCTOBER

2 Good Hair Comedian Chris Rock hosts a comic documentary exploring African-American hairstyles, a project prompted, Rock says, by his daughter, who asked him at age 5 why she didn't have good hair. A Serious Man The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen takes an oblique look at events in their own childhood, a black comedy set in 1967 about a Midwesterner whose wife threatens to leave when his inept brother won't move out. Whip It The directorial debut of Drew Barrymore, “Whip It” stars Ellen Page as a girl trying to find her place in life through the amateur roller-derby movement. Screenwriter Shauna Cross adapted her own novel, “Derby Girl.” Zombieland Yes, another zombie movie parody, with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin as professional zombie killers on the trail of the recently undead and broad comedy.

9 Couples Retreat “Swingers” collaborators Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn penned this relationship comedy set at an island relationship counseling center. Notable for being directed by Peter Billingsley, best known as Ralphie in “A Christmas Story.” The Damned United Michael Sheen (“Frost/Nixon”) portrays the controversial Leeds United football manager Brian Clough, as fictionalized from David Pearce's popular novel, “The Damned Utd.” An Education “High Fidelity” novelist Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay for this coming-of-age story about a London girl in the swinging '60s who has a relationship with an older man (Peter Sarsgaard), based on the memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber.

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>16 Black Dynamite Michael Jai White spoofs blaxploitation films with his performance as a former CIA agent who discovers a heroin and malt liquor conspiracy that leads to the White House. The Road Director John Hillcoat (“The Proposition”) turns Cormac McCarthy's (“No Country for Old Men) post-apocalyptic tale into a survival epic for Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce. Where the Wild Things Are Director Spike Jonze and writer Dave Eggers somehow turn the 48 pages of Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book into a feature-length film.

23 Amelia Multiple-Oscar-winner Hilary Swank teams with Richard Gere in “Vanity Fair” director Mira Nair's biopic of the famed flyer Amelia Earhart. Capitalism: A Love Story Confrontational documentarian Michael Moore puts the American economic system on trial in this look at the recent financial crisis and the bailout.

30 Gentlemen Broncos “Napoleon Dynamite” creators Jared and Jerusha Hess return with this comedy about a teenager at a fantasy writers convention whose story idea is ripped off by a desperate novelist. Youth in Revolt Michael Cera is Nick Twist, a romantically frustrated teenager who creates an alternate persona to win the girl of his dreams. Adapted from the first in the Nick Twist book series.

NOVEMBER

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>6 The Box Set in Richmond in 1976, “The Box” stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a suburban couple who must decide whether to push a button, which gives them $1 million and kills a stranger somewhere in the world. Richmond native Richard Kelly (“Donnie Darko”) adapts the Richard Matheson short story “Button, Button.” A Christmas Carol Robert Zemeckis uses his performance-capture process on Jim Carrey in this 3-D adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens' story. The Men Who Stare at Goats Ewan McGregor stars as a journalist who follows the exploits of a special forces soldier (George Clooney) in a U.S. military psychic operations program. From the 2004 book by Jon Ronson.

13 Fantastic Mr. Fox Wes Anderson adapts the Roald Dahl children's book in his first animated film. George Clooney is Mr. Fox, with Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman. The Young Victoria Lavish period drama stars Emily Blunt as the queen who would have an era named for her longest reign in British history. Rupert Friend is Prince Albert.

20 The Blind Side Michael Lewis' nonfiction book about Baltimore Ravens 2009 first round draft pick Michael Oher, a former homeless kid, gets the heartwarming Hollywood treatment. New Moon Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson return as vampires and the people who love them in the follow up to Stephanie Meyer's “Twilight.”

DECEMBER

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>4 Brothers Tobey McGuire takes an unusual turn as a disturbed war vet in “My Left Foot” director Jim Sheridan's update of a Danish film about brothers (McGuire and Jake Gyllenhaal) affected by the war in Afghanistan. Serious Moonlight “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines directs this dark comedy about a jilted woman (Meg Ryan) who duct-tapes her cheating husband to the toilet when he reveals he's leaving her for a younger woman. Up in the Air Casts George Clooney as a corporate downsizing expert who loves his luxury traveling lifestyle until it hits major turbulence. “Juno” director Jason Reitman adapts the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn.

11 All Good Things Andrew Jarecki (“Capturing the Friedmans”) directs this fact-based tale of a New York real-estate scion (Ryan Gosling) whose girlfriend (Kirsten Dunst) goes missing. Invictus Clint Eastwood directs Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as the South African rugby team captain at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, based on the John Carlin book “Playing the Enemy.” The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold's 2002 bestseller about a young murder victim (Saoirse Ronan) lands with director Peter Jackson. Music by Brian Eno.

18 Avatar The budget has reportedly gone past $200 million for writer and director James Cameron's (“Aliens,” “Titanic”) 3D, CGI-heavy sci-fi epic, about a soldier (Sam Worthington) who visits an alien world through a manufactured host body of an alien.

25 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Monty Python vet Terry Gilliam (“Time Bandits”) finishes the last movie with Heath Ledger using performances by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Ferrell, who stepped in to play the rest of Ledger's part, a mysterious figure who helps a 1,000-year-old theater director (Christopher Plummer) rescue his daughter (Lily Cole) from the devil (Tom Waits).

Studios frequently change release dates for their films; check local listings.

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