9 Fall Sleepers to Watch For

[caption id="attachment_5633" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Focus"]It's Kind of a Funny Story[/caption]

You know about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." You know about Shia LaBeouf and the "Wall Street" sequel, Robert Rodriguez's "Machete" and the Facebook movie (aka "The Social Network").

But now, NextMovie drops a dime on nine fall flicks that may be flying under the radar, but which we predict will stir up a nice respectable buzz when they hit theaters. The list includes Oscar winners, a Sexiest Man Alive, life-changing documentaries, book and play adaptations, a remake, a vampire tween and that modern day Renaissance man, James Franco.

Checklist complete.

The American

Release Date: Sept. 1

Starring: George Clooney, Bruce Altman, Thekla Reuten

FTW: Clooney takes another step forward in his Clint Eastwood-ish career with this thriller, about a loner American assassin who, escaping some killers on his trail, hides out in the Italian countryside, where he falls in love, makes a friend and -- ladies -- pops off his shirt. Which brings us back to the Eastwood thang; like his fellow Oscar winner, Clooney is only getting better with age, from the fact that he's mixing it up with his darkest role ever to the fact that the two-time People magazine Sexiest Man Alive is, yes, sexier than ever.

Never Let Me Go

[caption id="attachment_5836" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Focus"]Never Let Me Go[/caption]

Release Date: Sept. 15

Starring: Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling

FTW: Haunting is the only word that truly sums up "Never Let Me Go," the Mark Romanek-directed drama about a trio of British boarding school friends (Mulligan, Knightley and future "Spider-Man" Garfield) who grow up happily unaware of their pre-determined purposes in life. No worries... if you haven't read the Kazuo Ishiguro novel upon which the flick is based, we're not spoiling just what those dark purposes are. Suffice it to say, it's a twist that will definitely have moviegoers talking.

Jack Goes Boating

Release Date: Sept. 17

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, Daphne Rubin-Vega, John Ortiz

FTW: As if the fact that it's Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut weren't reason enough to get the movie an automatic spot on your must-see list, "Jack Goes Boating" also features another endearing performance from the Oscar winner. Hoffman is Jack, a New York City limo driver whose pal Clyde (John Ortiz) sets him up with Connie (Amy Ryan). While Connie inspires Jack to try new things and consider a commitment, Clyde and wife Lucy's (Daphne Rubin-Vega) marriage unravels, providing a yin and yang viewpoint of relationships.


Release Date: Sept. 17

Directors: Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost

FTW: Warning: Avoid spoilers at all cost, because there's at least one doozy of a twist that unfolds in this Sundance documentary, one of the most buzzed about docs at this year's festival. The basic story: New York photographer Nev begins receiving paintings from an online fan, and via Facebook and YouTube, that leads to a special relationship. Is the fan real? Is the relationship real? Is the movie real, or is the whole thing an elaborate ruse that's made possible with some clever use of social media?  That's what everyone will be talking about after seeing the movie, which proves ultimately to be both heartwarming and heartbreaking.


[caption id="attachment_5559" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Lionsgate"]Buried[/caption]

Release Date: Sept. 24

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis, Stephen Tobolowsky

FTW: It's a classic plot device: Someone gets buried alive. In this Sundance thriller, it's Reynolds as Paul, a U.S. contractor in Iraq who, after being attacked, wakes up to find himself buried in a coffin, with only a lighter and his cell phone. He furiously begins making calls to try to get help, but as he grows ever more claustrophobic, and his cell battery grows ever more dead, he finds out he's a pawn in a scheme that may be even wider-reaching than he could imagine. Funny guy Reynolds wins big points for his dramatic chops in the movie, and newbie director Rodrigo Corts proves he's one to watch; if this is what he can make with $2 million and less than three weeks of filming, someone give this guy a nine-figure budget.

Waiting for Superman

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Release Date: Sept. 24

FTW: The stream of dismal stories about the U.S. public school system is so never-ending that the topic has become one of those things everyone talks about, but few people actually take action to do something about. Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth" documentarian Davis Guggenheim hopes to change all that by introducing viewers to five real-world families who've pinned their hopes for their children's futures on a public lottery, one that determines which kids get a spot at a prestigious Baltimore boarding school that is literally life-changing for those who get admitted. The film's official Website will lead inspired moviegoers to DonorsChoose.org, which allows them to earn a $5 donation to the school of their choice if they pledge to see the movie.

Let Me In

Release Date: Oct. 1

Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins

FTW: A remake that was originally lambasted by rabid fans of the 2008 Swedish cult film "Let the Right One In," "Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves' Americanization of the hushed vamp tale has seem to won over most critics with good early word-of-mouth. It's a far darker, far bloodier vampire tale than say, the "Twilight" flicks, or "The Vampire Diaries" -- think more of an arthouse "True Blood" -- as it unfolds the story of bullied pre-teen Owen ("The Road's" Kodi Smit-McPhee), whose loneliness is squashed when he meets his mysterious new 12-year-old neighbor, Abby ("Kick-Ass" star Chloe Moretz). But this isn't "My Girl"; remember, scary, darker, bloodier... loneliness isn't the only thing that gets squashed.

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Lauren Graham

Release Date: Oct. 8

FTW: Four words: Zach Galifianakis, psych ward. This dramedy, adapted from Ned Vizzin's autobiographical novel of the same name by "Half Nelson" filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, finds some of our favorite TV stars -- "Bored to Death's" Galifianakis, "Gilmore Girls" mom Lauren Graham, "Lost's" Jeremy Davies and "United States of Tara" scene stealer Keir Gilchrist -- rallying around Gilchrist's Craig, a depressed teen who checks himself into the aforementioned psych ward. "Funny" also features Jim Gaffigan as Craig's dad, and Emma Roberts as a fellow psych ward-er he crushes on, and if that gives you a younger, hipper "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" vibe, go with it.

127 Hours

[caption id="attachment_5561" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Fox Searchlight"]127 Hours[/caption]

Release Date: Nov. 5

Starring: James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara

FTW: Is there anything Franco can't do? Movie star, soap opera actor, writer, artist, documentary filmmaker, Columbia grad student, Yale Ph.D student and now, adventurous self-amputator? Well, he's playing that last one on the big screen, anyway, as the star of "127 Hours," Danny Boyle's follow-up to his Oscar-winning direction of "Slumdog Millionaire." "Hours" tells the fact-based story of Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who had to saw off his own arm with a dull knife when it became trapped under a boulder. The depiction of Ralston's self-surgery (after being trapped for the titular number of hours) is not for the weak-stomached, but we double dog dare you not to be inspired by his will to survive.