By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 1, 2012 at 10:43AM
Goodbye, Oscars. After two months of specialty releases largely centered around awards season, March marks something of a return to normalcy -- an impressive array of films to suit pretty much any moviegoer, including esteemed foreign releases, controversial documentaries and promising U.S. indie comedies.
So from the Dardenne brothers to the Duplass brothers, check out Indiewire‘s picks for the eight best options, and then check out the full calendar; there’s many worthy films that didn’t make this list.
1. The Kid With a Bike (March 16, Sundance Selects)
Why Is It a "Must See"? The Dardenne Brothers ("Rosetta," "L'Enfant") return with this acclaimed French-language drama about an 11-year-old boy who turns to a stranger (Cécile de France) after his father has abandoned him. Winner of the Grand Prix (the runner-up prize to the Palme d'Or) at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, it's one of the most anticipated films still left to be released Stateside from that fest, and is surely on top of any cinephile's March "to see" list. Read Indiewire's review of "Bike" here.
What Do Critics Think? "The Kid With a Bike" has a B+ average on its Criticwire page.
2. Natural Selection (March 16, The Cinema Guild)
Why Is It a "Must See"? Robbie Pickering's directorial debut is coming to US theaters a year after winning both jury and audience awards for best narrative feature at SXSW. It follows a barren Christian housewife (Rachael Harris, in a stunning performance that already earned her a Spirit Award nomination) who leads a sheltered existence in suburban Texas. But everything changes when she discovers that her dying husband, Abe, has a 23-year-old illegitimate son named Raymond living in Florida. Check out Indiewire's review of the film here.
What Do Critics Think? "Natural Selection" has a A- average on its Criticwire page.
3. Friends With Kids (March 9, Roadside Attractions)
Why Is It a "Must See"? Teaming essentially half of the cast of "Bridesmaids" (Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Jon Hamm) with the likes of Adam Scott, Megan Fox and Edward Burns, "Friends With Kids" has perhaps the greatest breakout potential of any March indie. Written, directed and starring Jennifer Westfeldt (Hamm's longtime partner), the film follows two best friends (Westfeldt and Adam Scott) who decide to have a child together outside of a romantic relationship. Chaos, as one would expect, ensues. Read Indiewire's review of "Kids" here.
What Do Critics Think? "Friends With Kids" has a B average on its Criticwire page.
4. Bully (March 30, The Weinstein Company)
Why Is It a "Must See"? Amidst the considerable controversy surrounding its "R" rating from the MPAA, The Weinstein Company will be releasing "Bully" in theaters one rating or another come March. Lee Hirsch's doc follows disquieting day-to-day lives of five bullied kids and their families over the course of a school year. Powerful and moving, it's a must see to bring perspective to kids and adults alike (whether they've been affected by bullying or not). Check out an interview with director Hirsch here.
What Do Critics Think? "Bully" has a B+ average on its Criticwire page.
5. Jeff, Who Lives at Home (March 16, Paramount Vantage)
Why Is It a "Must See"? Jay and Mark Duplass follow up their well-recieved "Cyrus" with a second foray into more polished filmmaking, "Jeff, Who Lives at Home." Starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms as two brothers -- one of which still lives with their widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) -- the largely improvised comedy-drama hybrid quietly debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year to strong reviews. Eric Kohn's review called it "another fascinating, occasionally transcendent example of the Duplass' unique ability to infiltrate Hollywood cinema with their brand of filmmaking techniques."
What Do Critics Think? "Jeff" has a B+ average on its Criticwire page.
6. The Deep Blue Sea (March 23, Music Box)
Why Is It a "Must See"? For his first narrative film since 2000's widely acclaimed "The House of Mirth," British filmmaker Terence Davies has adapted Terence Rattigan's 1952 play about the wife of a Judge who engages in an affair with an RAF pilot. Starring Rachel Weisz (as the noted wife) in a performance that earned her huge raves when the film debuted on the festival circuit last year, "The Deep Blue Sea" is sure to find more fans upon its theatrical release. Back at the Toronto Film Festival, The Playlist called it "a beautiful, woozy and heartbreaking tale of intense passion."
What Do Critics Think? "Deep Blue Sea" has a B+ average on its Criticwire page.
7. Footnote (March 16, Sony Pictures Classics)
Why Is It a "Must See"? Coming off a nomination for best foreign language film at this year's Academy Awards (where it lost to fellow Sony Classics release "A Separation"), Joseph Cedar's Israeli import "Footnote" hits US theaters this March. The film revolves around the power struggle between a father and son who are both teaching at the Talmud department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to the Oscar nom, it won best screenplay at Cannes last year, where Indiewire gave it a very warm review.
What Do Critics Think? "Footnote" has a B average on its Criticwire page.
8. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (March 9, Adopt Films)
Why Is It a "Must See"? An intensely affecting portrait of the relationship between Genesis P-Orridge, one of the most influential figures in underground industrial music, and his collaborator and muse, the late Lady Jaye, "The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye" is hitting theaters just over a year after it won the Teddy Award for best documentary at the 2011 Berlinale. The film centers around the sexual transformations the noted pair underwent for their 'Pandrogyne' project (in which they underwent surgeries to more closely resemble each other). Check out Indiewire's interview with the film's director Marie Losier here.
What Do Critics Think? "Genesis and Lady Jaye" has a B+ average on its Criticwire page.