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Hope springs eternal at the movies but for critics it mostly comes in fall -- the season when big studios showcase films they're actually proud of and smaller companies bring out the titles they think can stand up to the competition. Here are five that I'd love to see right now:

"Moneyball." It's taken director Bennett Miller a half-dozen years to follow up on "Capote" but from the looks of this movie, it was worth the wait. Based on yet another nonfiction tour de force from Michael Lewis ("The Blind Side"), it stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager who set out to compete with richer clubs by recruiting players based not on traditional statistics like batting average but on "sabermetrics" -- an objective, empirical analysis of each athlete's skills. With a supporting cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman as A's manager Art Howe and Jonah Hill as assistant g.m. "Peter Brand" (a fictionalized version of Paul DePodesta), this movie looks like it has star-power to burn and a deep bench.

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"Albert Nobbs." Glenn Close rarely has enjoyed big-screen roles of the same caliber as, say, "Dangerous Liaisons," so she became the driving force behind this unusual film -- about a 19th-century Englishwoman who disguises herself as a butler in a Dublin hotel (it's based on George Moore's little-known classic "The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs"). Close both stars and cowrote the script with John Banville; she chose Rodrigo Garcia ("Mother and Child") to direct; and the cast includes Brendan Gleeson, Janet McTeer, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Mia Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson. It could be the rare dream deferred that that actually becomes a dream fulfilled.

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." Can Gary Oldman fill Alec Guinness' boots as John le Carre's master spy George Smiley in this compact feature remake of the legendary 1980 British mini-series? John le Carre thinks so: "When Guinness and that crowd of actors came to it, they were all British treasures," he told Will Lawrence of The Telegraph. "We emptied the National Theatre for the first series and it was made, in a curious way, as a love story to a fading British establishment. Even the nastiest characters were in some way huggable....With Oldman you share the pain more. I think you share the danger of life, the danger of being who Smiley is. That is much more acute. Gary's is a much tougher George Smiley than we've seen before." Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In") chose this to be his first English-language feature film; Colin Firth, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Hardy and Ciaran Hinds will surround Oldman's Smiley. "Hugo." Martin Scorsese making a 3-D family adventure film? Apart from the 3-D part, it sounds like fun to me, especially since Brian Selznick's Caldecott Award-winning source novel, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," was inspired by trailblazing French fantasy filmmaker George Melies and his love for "automata" -- windup mechanical figures. The plot involves an orphan (Asa Butterfield) squatting in a Paris railway station and the cast features Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz, Jude Law and Ray Winstone.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I'm really looking forward to David Fincher's version of Stieg Larsson's novel, because the gritty sensitivity and filmmaking imagination that Fincher brought to "Zodiac" is just what Larsson's material needs. (Fincher simply gets better and better: I'm one of the critics who think both "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Social Network" are masterpieces.) In the very first scene of "The Social Network," Rooney Mara quelled any doubts that she has the chops to make Lisbeth Salander her own, and she'll be playing off of Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist.

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