October is just ahead, meaning that the final quarter of the year is underway.  And that can only mean one thing for movie fans: Awards season is finally here!!  That being said, there are a great many films set to be released from now until the very end of the year.  With so much to choose from and so much positive buzz from the Venice International Film Festival, it makes it difficult for moviegoers to choose which films are theater-worthy and which ones are not.  The following is a list of the top five must-see films for this year.  Some are perhaps relatively unknown, and some highly regarded movies coming up will be excluded from this list.  But, the following five are movies that can not and should not be missed.

5) “Stone” directed by John Curran:  Edward Norton plays a convicted arsonist looking to get out of prison on parole.  He uses his wife, played by Milla Jovovich, to try and manipulate his parole officer, portrayed by Robert DeNiro, to secure his release.  Curran and Norton have collaborated before, on “The Painted Veil” which was an elegant film, and although Curran is turning to much grittier subject matter, the trailer already makes the film look to be equally exquisite.  Screenplay writer Angus MacLachlan may only have a small repertoire, but his writing has already been highly regarded, and cinematographer Maryse Alberti is known for a street and real style, having done such films as “The Wrestler” and “Tape.”  This is bound to be a film full of twists and turns, with a realistic style and a great cast.  A film that definitely steps outside of the norm, it’ll certainly be something audiences will be talking about.

4) “Enter the Void” directed by Gaspar Noe: The film is about a young American drug dealer that is shot to death in Tokyo during a transaction.  However, the young man stays on Earth as a ghost to watch over his sister.  Having been described as a psychedelic melodrama, “Enter the Void” is bound to be a journey for the senses.  With a team of 67 visual effects artists, Noe makes the film he has been dreaming to make, and there is already Oscar buzz regarding the visual elements of the film.  Cinematographer Benoit Debie reunites with the director to assist in the vision of the film.  As can be seen in their previous collaborations, the style will most certainly be gritty and thrilling.  Noe is known for making controversial films, and this one will be no different.  Whilst the film has no set MPAA rating yet, it is predicted to be an NC-17 film for the high level of graphic content.  Like he disturbed viewers with “Irreversible,” Gaspar Noe is sure to do it again with “Enter the Void.”  This film is likely to be both memorable and controversial, and thus it should be seen by all cinephiles.

3) “The Debt” directed by John Madden:  This movie is set between two different times, both present and 1965.  In 1965, three Mossad agents are sent to assassinate a Nazi war criminal accused of heinous crimes.  However, over thirty years later, a man surfaces claiming to be that same man.  Thus, the agents must return to their undercover identities to uncover the truth.  Director John Madden is an Academy Award nominated director for his fantastic film “Shakespeare in Love” and has directed a slew of fantastic films.  However, many of his movies have gone under the radar.  It would seem that with “The Debt” he is putting himself back on the Academy’s watch list.  Cinematographer Ben Davis is renowned for his eclectic style, having done whimsical and eccentric films such as “Franklyn” as well as psychological thrill-rides such as “Hannibal Rising.”  Thus, the photographic scope of this movie is bound to be vast and stunning.  The score is being composed by Thomas Newman, who has done the memorable, emotive music for movies like “Revolutionary Road” and “Little Children.”  This film is bound to get under audience’s skin and stick with them.  However, in spite of the toughness of the subject matter, it also will be beautiful to both watch and listen to. 

2) “The King’s Speech” directed by Tom Hooper: This film explores the story of King George VI, portrayed by Colin Firth, and when he takes over the throne.  Bertie, as he is lovingly known, is reluctant to assume leadership, as he is plagued with a terrible stammer in his speech and therefore is considered unfit to be a ruler.  Thus, his wife, played by Helena Bonham Carter, employs an unorthodox speech therapist, played by Geoffery Rush.  Through this working relationship, the King finds not only a friend but his voice.  There has already been a great deal of Oscar buzz surrounding the acting in this film, especially the portrayal of King George VI.  As audiences everywhere recall, Colin Firth was snubbed for last year’s Best Actor win and will hopefully not be ignored again.  Tom Hooper is best known for his acclaimed HBO miniseries “John Adams,” for which he won an Emmy award.  Alexandre Desplat is doing the score, and his bold, dramatic compositions, like in “Birth” and “The Ghost Writer” are bound to only enhance the quality and integrity of the film.  This period-piece will certainly be memorable and is also likely to be a modern-day classic. 

1) “Black Swan” by Darren Aronofsky: This movie is a thriller that explores the life of Nina, a New York City ballerina, played by Natalie Portman, and her rivalry with a fellow troupe member, played by Mila Kunis over who will assume the new prima ballerina position in their company.  The rivalry becomes a twisted friendship that becomes both consuming and psychologically deteriorating for Nina.  Portman and Kunis are supported by a fantastic cast, including Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, and Barbara Hershey.  Director Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to bizarre, psychologically exploratory films.  His repertoire of “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream,” and “The Fountain” have all left fans both disturbed and amazed.  “Black Swan” appears to be on par with the greatness of all of these previous works and is likely to be equally unsettling.  Cinematographer Matthew Libatique pairs with Darren Aronofsky once again, and his unhinged style, as seen in “Requiem for a Dream,” “Gothika,” and “The Number 23” will serve only to enhance the dementia of the movie and keep audiences on the edge of their seats throughout the film. 

There certainly are more films than this that will be shown during the rest of the year that are noteworthy.  However, these five really seem to be the cream of the crop and are cannot miss films!