Could the summer movie season have been any more disappointing?

Aside from one stellar popcorn flick ("Mission: Impossible III") and occasional signs of life ("Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man," "Strangers with Candy"), nearly everything from "The Da Vinci Code" and "X-Men: The Last Stand" to "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "Snakes on a Plane" was a major letdown.

No worries; the time is upon us for the year's best films, many of which we will certainly hear more about come Oscar time. Here's a partial list of the fall movies, with 15 films we're watching out for. Release dates are subject to change.


"The Black Dahlia"
Get ready for cool: Brian De Palma's first movie since 2002's "Femme Fatale" adapts the novel by James Ellroy (who also wrote "L.A. Confidential") about "the most notorious unsolved murder in California history." With Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson and Hillary Swank.
Also out: "Everyone's Hero," "Gridiron Gang," "The Ground Truth," "Half Nelson," "The Last Kiss," "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles," "Sherrybaby," "This Film is Not Yet Rated"

Sept. 22: "All the King's Men," "Bandidas," "Confetti," "Feast," "Haven," "Jackass: Number Two," "Jet Li's Fearless," "Puffy Chair," "Shottas"

Sept. 27: "The Last King of Scotland"

Sept. 29

"The Science of Sleep"
Love the whacked-out "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"? Director Michel Gondry goes even farther off the deep end with his script about a young man (Gael Garcia Bernal) who struggles to distinguish between dreams and reality.
Also out: "Dogwalker," "Flyboys," "The Guardian," "Keeping Mum," "Open Season," "School for Scoundrels," "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" . Oct. 4: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning"

Oct. 6

"The Departed"
Speaking of getting "whacked": Martin Scorcese returns with the story of men undercover with the Boston Police Department and the Irish mafia. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson star.

"Breaking and Entering"
Hello, Academy voters: Jude Law plays a landscape architect dealing with burglaries at his office, with Oscar-veteran Anthony Minghella ("Cold Mountain," "The English Patient"). With Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright Penn.
Also out: "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker," "Al Franken: God Spoke," "Darshan: The Embrace," "Employee of the Month," "Jesus Camp"