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MOTHER'S MILK

All About My Mother
In Pedro Almodóvar's homage to women, which opens the New York Film Festival on September 24, the Spanish filmmaker offers an unusually moving yet ironic diagram of the contemporary family. Cecilia Roth is an organ-transplant coordinator who returns to Barcelona and her complicated past after the death of her teenage son. (In theaters November 19.)

Anywhere but Here
In one of the many best-selling volumes turned Oscar hopefuls this season, Susan Sarandon plays a restless woman who relocates her more levelheaded teenage daughter (the exquisite Natalie Portman, who thankfully left both her hairdresser and that tight-lipped monotone drone on Naboo) from the Wisconsin sticks to the flats of Beverly Hills. Adapted from Mona Simpson's novel and directed by Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club). (October 22.)

Tumbleweeds
Based loosely on Angela Shelton's memoir, the winner of this year's Filmmaker's Trophy at Sundance stars Tony winner Janet McTeer as a rural southern woman who also packs up her daughter and travels cross-country in search of a better life. (November 19.)

Music of the Heart
In addition to having rounded up the usual suspects (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette) for Scream 3 -- supposedly the last one (December 10) -- the long-pigeonholed Wes Craven breaks out this fall. Inspired by the documentary Small Wonders, the film stars Meryl Streep as a music teacher (and single mom) in East Harlem who fights budget cuts with the help of Angela Bassett, Aidan Quinn, and diva Gloria Estefan (in her motion-picture debut). (October 29.)

Anna and the King
Up against a very different Board of Education is Jodie Foster in the epic period romance based on Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I and co-starring Asian action hero Chow Yun-Fat as the King of Siam, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. (November 24.)

Agnes Browne
Anjelica Huston follows her directorial debut, Bastard out of Carolina, and also stars as a widow who struggles to make ends meet and keep her seven children from starving in late-sixties Dublin. Based on the best-selling Irish novel The Mammy, by Brendan O'Carroll. (December 3.)

FAMILY THERAPY

Angela's Ashes
It isn't all single moms and long odds. It's married couples and long odds, and deadbeat dads too. In Alan Parker's retelling of Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning, megaselling memoir, Robert Carlyle plays the McCourts' inebriated patriarch, who eventually leaves his wife (portrayed by emotive lass Emily Watson) and children in Limerick to contend with abject poverty, the Irish way. (December.)

American Beauty
Sam Mendes's equally compelling suburban tragedy opens with the inner monologue of Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), a walking mid-life meltdown whose wife (Annette Bening) loathes him and whose daughter (Thora Birch) may love him but is understandably angered, not to mention hurt and embarrassed, by his crush on her best friend. (September 17.)

The Story of Us
Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer likewise ride the brink of separation after fifteen tough years of marriage, but with less catastrophic results, in Rob Reiner's romantic comedy. (October 15.)

The End of the Affair
Neil Jordan called upon set designer Anthony Pratt (Hope and Glory) to re-create London during the Blitz for this film. Based on the highly autobiographical Graham Greene novel, it tells of a novelist (Ralph Fiennes) who hires a private investigator (Ian Hart) when his lover (Julianne Moore), the wife of an ineffectual civil servant (Stephen Rea), suddenly breaks off their affair. (December 3.)

Random Hearts
Speaking of abandonment, Harrison Ford is a hard-nosed D.C. cop whose life becomes dangerously interlaced with that of a snooty congresswoman (Kristin Scott Thomas) when he realizes that their respective spouses were sitting together -- and not just coincidentally -- when they plummeted to their deaths in a plane crash. (October 8.)

Daddy and Them
On to more down-home, down-to-earth family insanity: Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton writes, directs, and stars with girlfriend Laura Dern as his fiery bride. Ben Affleck, Kelly Preston, Jamie Lee Curtis, Brenda Blethyn, Diane Ladd, Jim Varney, and Andy Griffith round out the cast of kooky Arkansans who reunite when one of their clan is arrested. (December 23.)

Hanging Up
Following up her quiet, impressive feature debut, Unstrung Heroes, Diane Keaton directs Meg Ryan in a film adapted by Delia Ephron and her sister Nora from Delia's novel of the same name. This time, Ryan is the loyal daughter to and caretaker of her dying alcoholic father, Walter Matthau. Keaton and Lisa Kudrow also star in the film as Ryan's quasi-famous and less responsive sisters. (December 25.)

GOOD SPORTS

For Love of the Game
Kevin Costner returns to his strong suit (that being a baseball uniform). Here, Costner is a major-leaguer pitching a no-hitter while consumed by memories of his botched career and dwindling romance with a New York journalist (Kelly Preston). (September 17.)

Any Given Sunday
Oliver Stone takes on pro football with the help of Al Pacino, a coach whose livelihood is threatened by a young female owner (Cameron Diaz) who wants to replace everybody's all-American quarterback (Dennis Quaid) with a crowd-pleasing hotshot (Jamie Foxx). (December 25.)

Mystery, Alaska
Hockey is the name of the game when a Manhattan publicity agent (Hank Azaria) challenges a small-town farm team led by a mechanic (Russell Crowe) and a local judge (Burt Reynolds), who must rally the eccentric yokels against the Rangers. (October 1.)

Flawless
Robert De Niro is a retired cop who suffers a stroke in Joel Schumacher's sentimental comedy-and-action mix, wherein De Niro's bitter homophobe takes singing lessons from a female impersonator (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in his Lower East Side building. (November 24.)

Jakob the Liar
But you can bet the triumph-of-the-human-spirit scenarios don't end until Robin Williams has put his 2 cents in. This year, in what seems to be a blatant morph of Life Is Beautiful, Schindler's List, and Good Morning, Vietnam, he pretends to have a transmitter during World War II in the Warsaw ghetto, thus bringing hope to his persecuted neighbors with his phony broadcasts. (September 24.)

Bicentennial Man
Williams also appears as a brushed-steel-and-plastic android housekeeper who grows more and more human while caring for a family and its many generations over the course of 200 years. Based on the Isaac Asimov short story. (December.)


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