4. "Lincoln" (Nov. 16)
The trailer for "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's latest film, hasn't hit the Internet yet, but the poster alone is causing a stir (as are reports that everyone on set referred to Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Abe, as "Mr. President"). Spielberg often overreaches, especially with such historical dramas as "Amistad." He swings big, though, and when he connects, it's something special.
5. "Butter" (Oct. 5)
"Butter" is one of those "it's about WHAT?" films. In this case, the "WHAT?" is competitive butter-sculpting and what happens when a red-white-and-blue-bleeding Jennifer Garner goes up against a child prodigy. Garner is eminently likable and underrated when it comes to comedy, and a supporting cast that includes Hugh Jackman and "Modern Family's" Ty Burrell suggests a strong showing for this little indie.
6. "Anna Karenina" (Nov. 16)
"Anna Karenina" was adapted by Tom Stoppard and helmed by Joe Wright, who also directed Keira Knightley in 2007's "Atonement." Knightley's performance in 2008's little-seen "The Duchess" tells me she's best in roles that require her to wear corsets and great hats. This adaptation of the Russian novel has both.
7. "The Waiting Room" (Nov. 30)
Filmmaker Peter Nicks captured the goings-on at the ER in Oakland, Calif.'s Highland Hospital, a public facility that is the community's safety net when it comes to medical care. Highland's staff struggles to balance emergencies with those patients who go to the ER because they have no other means of seeing a doctor.
8. "Life of Pi" (Nov. 21)
Full disclosure: I cannot get through "Life of Pi," the 2001 Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel. I've tried three times and have always been out before page 80. No matter: Director Ang Lee's films are some of the most visually interesting out there, and he shot the "Pi" adaptation in 3-D. Moving 3-D from the multiplex to the art house is an admirable challenge to accept.