12 Years a Slave (October 18)
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Why is it a "Must See"? Perhaps the fall's best cast -- and that's saying something -- moves this film up on your fall checklist, but it's the man behind the camera who pushes "12 Years a Slave" close to the top slot.  Steve McQueen's third feature film (and third collaboration with Michael Fassbender) marks his first foray into serious awards contention. "Hunger" made a solid festival run, but couldn't expand past 11 theaters in the States. "Shame" was slapped with the MPAA scarlet letters (NC-17), making it virtually ineligible for awards and actually ineligible to play at many American cinemas. Now, McQueen has a film with a respectable R rating, lots of A-list stars, and a major production company in Brad Pitt's Plan B. Throw in a surprising inclusion at TIFF as well as an October 18 release date, and McQueen could be looking at a long-lasting level of exposure -- perhaps through February.

Check out the trailer below:

After Tiller
(September 20)
Director: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson
Distributor: Oscilloscope
Why is it a "Must See"? One of the best documentaries to come out of the Sundance Film Festival this year, the very timely "After Tiller" refers to George Tiller, a doctor who performed late-term abortions and was murdered in 2009. The film follows the only four remaining doctors in the United States that perform late-term abortions in the wake of Tiller's death. Incredibly moving and powerful, it marks an impressive feature film debut from Shane and Wilson, and should pretty much be required viewing for anyone on either side of the abortion debate.

Watch the trailer below:

All Is Lost

(October 18)
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Why is it a "Must See"? It's a one man show starring Robert Redford that's already generating Oscar buzz. Enough said. J.C. Chandor's follow-up to "Margin Call" couldn't appear more removed from his 2011 feature film debut. While "Margin Call" focused on the stock market crash through lots of insider lingo and back room discussions between an ensemble of thespians, his latest picture features only one man, one boat, and the ocean. It certainly helps that the man is Robert Redford. "All Is Lost" won raves at its Cannes premiere in May, launching Redford into an always crowded Best Actor race. Here's hoping the veteran actor earns a nod.

Check out the trailer below:

The Armstrong Lie (November 8)
Director: Alex Gibney
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Why is it a "Must See"? The James Franco of documentary film, Alex Gibney offers up his second film of 2013 (after "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks") with "The Armstrong Lie," a take on cycling star Lance Armstrong. And as the title suggests, it's not exactly a positive one.  Said to have begun as the chronicle of a comeback, Gibney's latest became an examination into the anatomy of a lie when Armstrong was caught doping last year. This film is said to offer considerable access to Armstrong's former teammates, doctors, and professionals, many of whom have never before spoken to the media about Armstrong and his bombshell doping admission – as well as unprecedented access to Armstrong himself. 

"The Armstrong Lie" has yet to release a trailer.

As I Lay Dying (September 27)
Director: James Franco
Cast: James Franco, Danny McBride, Tim Blake Nelson, Beth Grant

Why is it a "Must See"? Speaking of James Franco, he has taken on William Faulkner's complicated modernist classic "As I Lay Dying," about the Bundren family on a dangerous pilgrimage to bury their matron. Franco has cast himself as the lead, and he certainly looks the part (scruffy beard, sweat-soaked shirt, rugged Southern charm). But everyone is talking about his usage of split screen, employed to evoke Faulkner's surreal and complex story, which is narrated by every member of the family in turn, including the dead mother speaking from the coffin.

Check out the trailer below:

August Osage County (December 25)
Director: John Wells
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch,  Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Why is it a "Must See"? Nothing coming out this fall screams Oscar quite like "August: Osage County." Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts (who wrote the screenplay as well), the film stars none other than Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts as an extremely dysfunctional mother and daughter (alongside Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulrney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson and Abigail Breslin). The Weinstein Company is debuting it in Toronto in a few weeks, but we'll have to wait until Christmas Day to see what Streep, Roberts and company have in store for us.

Check out the trailer below: