It always happens too quickly. One moment we're munching on popcorn and sucking noisily on sodas while CG humanoid turtles fight onscreen. The next moment half of us are donning our top hats and monocles and swanning off to film festivals to harrumph about the latest obscure Euro arthouse sensation, and the other half are settling in for a long few months of sorting out obvious Oscar bait from the films that may actually bait Oscar. The gear change from Summer Tentpole period to Fall Festival/Awards Season is a pretty dramatic one, so we've prepared a little survival kit.
Of the many releases between now and the end of the year, the following twenty are our hot tips. In some cases we really know what we're talking about, because we've already seen the film in question at an earlier festival, but in most we're going on a combination of gut instinct, advance buzz, prior form of the key players and scientific criteria like "how much we like the trailers" and "whether the poster sucks."