Provided by Paramount

Along with changing leaves and an abundance of everything pumpkin, fall marks the return of watchable films to theaters. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Prisoners” and “Gravity” set the tone for the Oscar contest in the past few months, opening to critical praise and commercial success. This fall season will offer book adaptations, epic narratives and outstanding performances. Here are eight of the many astonishing pictures that will be hitting theaters this season:

1. “Captain Phillips” (Oct. 11) — Tom Hanks returns from obscurity in this edge-of-your-seat thriller that’s already generating buzz. “Captain Phillips” is about a cargo ship that was hijacked by armed Somali teenagers in 2009 and is based on a true story. The mix of high-stakes tension and powerful performances is sure to attract critical acclaim. It’s about time we had a serious pirate movie.

2. “The Fifth Estate” (Oct. 18) — To the delight of “Sherlock” fans, Benedict Cumberbatch finally nabbed a leading role in this ripped-from-the-headlines tale of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The thriller tells the story of Assange and his partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg, looking at Wikileaks from its inception to its implosion. Director Bill Condon is returning to Oscar bait after doing the opposite: directing the last two “Twilight” movies.

3. “12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18) — “12 Years a Slave” is already an early awards season favorite. The film is based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography of how he, a free black man, was sold into slavery. It features a cast of rising stars, including Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, with Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson and Benedict Cumberbatch (again). It’s about time we had a serious slavery movie.

4. “Ender’s Game” (Nov. 1) — This highly anticipated adaption of the classic young adult sci-fi novel centers around Ender Wiggin, a gifted teenager recruited into Battle School, where he trains to fend off aliens. The film stars Asa Butterfield as Ender, Harrison Ford (who has experience fighting aliens), Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis and Hailee Steinfeld (she’s in “True Grit”).

5. “Dallas Buyers Club” (Nov. 1) — Continuing his critically acclaimed career turnaround, Matthew McConaughey gives a gritty, physically demanding (the actor lost 50 pounds for the role) performance in the story of Ron Woodroof, a man diagnosed with HIV in 1986. When the FDA doesn’t allow treatment drugs to enter the country, Woodroof smuggles them in from around the world. It’s like “Breaking Bad” with AIDS instead of cancer.

6. “The Book Thief” (Nov. 15) — Based on the internationally bestselling young adult novel “The Book Thief,” the film is set in Holocaust-era Germany, where young Liesel starts a habit of stealing and sharing books with a Jewish refugee hiding in her basement. The book is famously narrated by Death himself, but it remains to be seen how that technique will carry over into the film, if at all. It’s the latest unfilmable movie that Hollywood filmed anyway.

7. “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Nov. 15) — If you thought Leonardo DiCaprio was rolling in cash in “The Great Gatsby,” you haven’t seen anything yet. “The Wolf of Wall Street” tells the story of Jordan Belfort’s life as a stockbroker and his coked-up, midget-tossing descent into madness and possibly prison. There are rumors that this film won’t be released until near Christmas or even next spring, but for now, Paramount still has “Wolf” marked for Nov. 15.

8. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (Nov. 22) — The second installment of “The Hunger Games” series picks up with Katniss and Peeta on a Victory Tour around the districts, but they quickly find themselves back in the arena. While the film probably won’t be an Oscar contender, we’re looking forward to it catching fire at the box office.