Fall was my favorite season long before I started writing about film. I hate heat, I rarely see daylight in the winter, and spring is me and my Zyrtec battling against nature. Now that I make part of my living sitting in dark screening rooms, autumn is extra-special: The end-of-summer movie slump is over - "August" might as well be a synonym for "awful" - and the December crush of Oscar wannabes has yet to begin. This fall brings nine movies I can't wait to see (starting with the most anticipated) and one I can't wait to forget.
1. "Pitch Perfect" (Oct. 5)
Covering the world of competitive a cappella singing, "Pitch Perfect" looks to be the spiritual heir of "Bring it On." That means it could not only be a hilarious theatergoing experience but also become one of those films that captures our attention every time it comes on TV. Anna Kendrick leads the cast, and if you've seen the teenage version of her in 2003's "Camp," you know she can bring it.
2. "Argo" (Oct. 12)
Ben Affleck is well on his way to being known as an excellent director who acts when he feels like it. His follow-up to "The Town" is "Argo," based on the true story of how the CIA pretended to be making a movie (titled "Argo") to extract six Americans from Tehran after the U.S. embassy takeover in 1979. The trailer suggests a nail-biter all the more engaging because the story really happened. Also, it promises impressive '70s hairdos.
3. "The Master" (Sept. 21)
I will read anything - anything! - about Scientology, and I think Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the few directors who has never missed a step. After months of dodging the issue, Anderson finally admitted this week that "The Master" was inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Throw in Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and this movie could only be better with a dance-off.
4. "Lincoln" (Nov. 16)
The trailer for "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's latest film, hasn't hit the Internet yet, but the poster alone is causing a stir (as are reports that everyone on set referred to Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Abe, as "Mr. President"). Spielberg often overreaches, especially with such historical dramas as "Amistad." He swings big, though, and when he connects, it's something special.
5. "Butter" (Oct. 5)
"Butter" is one of those "it's about WHAT?" films. In this case, the "WHAT?" is competitive butter-sculpting and what happens when a red-white-and-blue-bleeding Jennifer Garner goes up against a child prodigy. Garner is eminently likable and underrated when it comes to comedy, and a supporting cast that includes Hugh Jackman and "Modern Family's" Ty Burrell suggests a strong showing for this little indie.