4. 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
Criticwire Grade: B+

Why is it a "Must See"? Nothing coming out this December 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, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson and Abigail Breslin). The film has already been making the rounds on the festival circuit, which has made clear it is indeed the epic acting showcase -- or perhaps "acting riot" is a better label -- you'd think it is. 

Watch the trailer below:

5. The Crash Reel (December 13)
Director: Lucy Walker
Distributor: Phase 4
Criticwire Grade: A-

Why is it a "Must See"?  Fresh off of making the Oscar shortlist for best documentary, Lucy Walker's "The Crash Reel" hits theaters this December. The film looks at the life of snowboarder Kevin Pearce before and after he barely survives a crash just before the Vancouver Winter Olympics. He had previously been ranked among the top in the world, with an rivalry with Shaun White (documented in the film through 15 years of footage) that pushed him to the limits that almost killed him. Now he's recovering from his injury and just wants to get on a snowboard again, even though many fear it would kill him. It makes for harrowing stuff.

Check out the trailer below:

6. The Invisible Woman (December 25)

Director: Ralph Fiennes
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Criticwire Grade: B-

Why is it a "Must See"?  Greeted with warms reviews at both the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Ralph Fiennes' sophomore film following "Coriolanus," "The Invisible Woman," sees the thesp once again putting himself center stage, this time as legendary author Charles Dickens. The gamble paid off last time with his stellar debut, and in "The Invisible Woman" he has another winner on his hands. The gorgeous looking film tells the little known story behind Dickens' secret 13-year affair with his mistress, Nelly Ternan (played by "Like Crazy" breakout Felicity Jones in performance that would garner more awards buzz in a less crowded season). Also worth noting: Fiennes reunites on screen with his "English Patient" co-star Kristin Scott Thomas, who stars in the film as Nelly's mother.

Check out the trailer below:

7. Paradise: Hope (December 6)

Director: Ulrich Seidl
Cast: Cast: Melanie Lenz, Verena Lehbauer, Joseph Lorenz, Viviane Bartsch, Michael Thomas, Johanna Schmid
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Criticwire Grade: B+

Why is it a "Must See"?  Concluding a trilogy of sad, lonely women that started with "Paradise: Love" and continued with "Paradise: Faith," Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise: Hope"  focuses on the daughter of the woman from "Paradise: Love," portly teen Melanie (Melanie Lenz), as she enders the rigorous curriculum of a diet camp and falls in love with her much older doctor (Joseph Lorenz). In contrast to the bleakness of the earlier films, this final entry is resolutely sweet, hinting at a certain depravity but never actually going there, resulting in one of the more enjoyable coming of age stories released this year. After the dour experiences of Seidl's earlier films, the entertainment value of "Paradise: Hope" is truly cathartic.

Check out the trailer below: