The ultimate viewer's guide to the fall films, including ''L.A. Confidential,'' ''Conspiracy Theory,'' and ''The River Wild''

Forget about dinosaurs, banish all thoughts of Speed 2, and (please) put the Batmobile back in mothballs: If you love the kind of movies that don’t necessarily involve explosions, effects, excess, or Happy Meal tie-ins, have we got a fall for you. You want class? We’ve got two Henry James adaptations, two historical epics about Tibet, and an update of Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. You want crass? Check out the ’70s porn-biz nostalgia trip Boogie Nights and the giant-invading-insects shriek-fest Starship Troopers. 1997’s final four months will bring big books (The Horse Whisperer, A Thousand Acres, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Rainmaker), big sequels (yes, we got burned by some duds this summer, but we’re still excited about Alien Resurrection and Scream 2), big stars (in roles that range from Holly Hunter as an angel to Al Pacino as the devil), and — oh, yes — a big ship: James Cameron’s long-awaited Titanic, which was originally supposed to open in July. See? This fall, even the summer movies look good.

Edited by: Jess Cagle; Mark Harris

Written by: Rebecca Ascher-Walsh; Steve Daly; Jeff Gordinier; David Hochman; Dave Karger; Dana Kennedy; Gregg Kilday; Tricia Laine; Chris Nashawaty; Degen Pener; Erin Richter; Jessica Shaw; Benjamin Svetkey; Caren Weiner; Chris Willman