Most years, Hollywood saves the really good stuff - the awards contenders, the thought-provoking, life-changing, controversial, and challenging titles - for right now: The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve are when the floodgates open.
But 2013 has already offered a rich, multicourse feast - 12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Enough Said, Mud, Fruitvale Station, The Place Beyond the Pines, to name just a few. Is it possible there is more greatness (or really, really good-ness) to come?
Here's a look at some of the top releases scheduled for the rest of the year, from Disney animated fare to a movie about Uncle Walt starring Tom Hanks, from a goofball comedy taking on the news media to the Coen Brothers' take on the early-'60s folk music scene, new films from David O. Russell, Martin Scorsese, and Tyler Perry, provocative docs, and whatnots.
Black Nativity (Wednesday). Langston Hughes' play, first staged in 1961, serves as inspiration more than source material for Kasi Lemmons' modern-day Christmas musical, about a troubled Baltimore teen (Jacob Latimore) sent to New York to spend the holidays with grandparents (Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett) he doesn't know. Jennifer Hudson is the mom, and everyone sings. PG
Frozen (Wednesday). Disney's animated adaptation of The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen's frosty fairy tale. Codirected by Wreck-It Ralph's Jennifer Lee, with the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Idina Menzel. PG
Oldboy (Wednesday). The revered K-thriller hit gets remade by Spike Lee, with Josh Brolin starring as a guy locked up in a room for 20 years. He gets out, he wants vengeance. R
The Armstrong Lie (Friday). The disgraced Tour de France champ and cancer crusader is joined by Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. At first, on Lance's 2009 comeback Tour, it's a lovefest. After the doping revelations, it gets ugly. R
Bettie Page Reveals All (Dec. 6). The "naughty but nice" pinup queen and S&M model - and fashion icon/forward-thinking feminist? - gets a full-tilt documentary, narrated by none other than Bettie herself. Hugh Hefner, Rebecca Romijn, and Dita Von Teese get words in edgewise. R
Out of the Furnace (Dec. 6). A Rust Belt noir, starring Casey Affleck, Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, and Forest Whitaker. From Scott Cooper, director of the Oscar-winning Crazy Heart. R
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dec. 13). To the edge of Mirkwood forest Bilbo Baggins and his company of Dwarves go, in the second installment of Peter Jackson's elaborate adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's modest Lord of the Rings prequel. The third and final film, There and Back Again, comes out next December. PG-13
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (Dec. 13). Cross-dressing yuletide cheer from the prolific African American film actor and auteur, adapting his own 2011 holiday-themed play to the big screen. PG-13
American Hustle (Dec. 18). From David O. Russell, whose last two pics were the Oscar magnets Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, comes this 1970s crime caper inspired by the Abscam scandal that brought down a clutch of pols, including some from these here parts. With Russell regulars Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence. R
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Dec. 18). Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and Steve Carell return from a nine-year commercial break to resume their roles as airhead news readers, relocated from San Diego to New York City, where Ron Burgundy tries his hand, and his mustache, on the first 24-hour cable news channel. PG-13
Inside Llewyn Davis (Dec. 20). Joel and Ethan Coen look back to the nascent days of the Greenwich Village folk music scene, with the titular troubadour (played by Oscar Isaac) on an odyssey of self-discovery, and self-destruction. A great soundtrack, a great supporting cast (Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and F. Murray Abraham). R
Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 20). Emma Thompson is P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, and Tom Hanks is Walt Disney, who has it in mind to make a film. From director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), and generating lots and lots of awards-season buzz. Chim Chim Cher-ee! PG-13
47 Ronin (Dec. 25). Swordplay and sorcery, as Keanu Reeves is freed from years of enslavement (see Oldboy, see 12 Years a Slave) to seek revenge, siding with a small band of samurai warriors against an army of shogun evildoers. PG-13
August: Osage County (Dec. 25). Meryl Streep is the pill-popping matriarch, presiding over the Weston clan, reunited in the wake of tragedy in this all-star adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Letts play. Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, and Benedict Cumberbatch head for Oklahoma for fun conversation around the dinner table. R
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dec. 25). Ben Stiller stars in, and directs, an update of the Danny Kaye classic (based on a James Thurber story) about a mild-mannered daydreamer who falls into a real-life adventure of epic proportions. PG-13
The Wolf of Wall Street (Dec. 25). The rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, based on his best-selling memoir and starring Leonardo DiCaprio in his fifth team-up with director Martin Scorsese. The buzz is buzzing for this tale of careening excess. With Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Margot Robbie along for the ride. R