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The 10 Indie Films You Must See This October

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 1, 2012 at 11:06AM

October is about to offer quite the selection with more than 30 films on Indiewire's October calendar.
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The Sessions John Hawkes

October is about to offer quite the selection with more than 30 films on Indiewire's October calendar.

As an extension of our recent fall movie preview, Indiewire is offering the second of four monthly fall "must-see" lists to make cinematic decision-making over the next 31 days as easy as possible. 

From Charlotte Bronte and Zac Efron to a sex surrogate and a truly terrifying VHS tape, check out Indiewire's picks for October's 10 best options, and then check out the full October calendar, as there are many worthy films that didn't end up making this list.

1. The Sessions (October 19)

Director: Ben Lewin
Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Why is it a "Must See"? The film formerly known as "The Surrogate" is the second half of Fox Searchlight's impressive duo of Sundance pickups (the first being summer release "Beasts of the Southern Wild," which has clearly worked out for them).

The newly named "Sessions" comes out this month, offering audiences the real-ife story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a poet and journalist with an iron lung who contacts a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity. Remarkably heartfelt and built to please crowds (it won the audience award at Sundance), Oscar noms for Hawkes, Hunt and William H. Macy (as O'Brien's priest) are surely -- and reasonably -- on Fox Searchlight's mind.

WATCH: Here's the Oscar-winning short about Mark O'Brien, "Breathing Lessons" 

READ MORE: 'The Surrogate' Turns Sex Therapy Into a Bittersweet Showcase for Helen Hunt and John Hawkes

2. Seven Psychopaths (October 12)

Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Waits, Kevin Corrigan
Distributor: CBS Films

Why is it a "Must See"? "One Shih Tzu.. Seven Psychopaths." That's the tagline for Martin McDonagh's follow-up to "In Bruges," a black comedy coming  out of Toronto with rave reviews (and the audience award for the festival's "Midnight Madness" section). McDonagh's "Bruges" star Colin Farrell headlines as a struggling screenwriter who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends (Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken) kidnap a beloved Shih Tzu belonging to an insane gangster (Woody Harrelson).

Check out the trailer below:

3. V/H/S (October 5)

Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence
Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil
Distributor: Magnolia Films

Why is it a "Must See"? Forget "Paranormal Activity 4." The season's most worthwhile horror film is this POV, found footage flick from the perspective of some of America's top genre filmmakers.

Collectively directed by David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West and the online filmmaking collective known as Radio Silence, the anthology film follows a group of misfits hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, until, of course, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.

READ MORE: SUNDANCE REVIEW: "V/H/S" Breathes New Life (And Death) Into Found-Footage Horror

Check out the red band trailer below:

4. Holy Motors (October 17)

Director: Leos Carax
Cast: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue
Distributor: Indomina

Why is it a "Must See"? One of -- if not the -- most discussed films of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Leos Carax's "Holy Motors" was deemed "balls-to-the-wall crazy" in an Indiewire review that also called it "beautiful and unbelievably strange." Following a man (Denis Lavant) who travels between multiple parallel lives, it's definitely the fall's trippiest option (and the only one featuring Kylie Minogue!).

Check out the trailer below:

5. Wuthering Heights (October 5)

Director: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Oliver Milburn, Nicola Burley, James Howson, Paul Hilton
Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Why Are They "Must Sees"? A literary classic from the mid-1800s is getting a brand new cinematic take (a month before another -- Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" -- does the same) with Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights."  Charlotte Bronte's 1847 novel gets a new look via Arnold and a cast of mostly unknowns (it most recently adapted prior as a miniseries starring Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley in 2009). A departure from the contemporary social realism of Arnold's acclaimed "Fish Tank," this gorgeous film (it deservedly won best cinematography at last year's Venice Film Festival) marks an ambitious new step in the director's career.

Check out the trailer below:

6. The House I Live In (October 5)

Director: Eugene Jarecki
Distributor: Abramorama/SnagFilms

Why is it a "Must See"? A strong possibility for the best feature documentary Oscar, Eugene Jarecki's doc (which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance) takes on the remarkable failure that is the American war on drugs. In the past 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer, and destroyed impoverished communities. Yet drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever. Jarecki tries to figure out where it went wrong, and what can still be done.

7. Smashed (October 12)

Director: James Ponsoldt
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Why is it a "Must See"? Earning raves out of the Sundance Film Festival for Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performance as half of an alcoholic couple who decides to get sober ("Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul plays the other half), this is a dark horse contender for a best actress Oscar nomination.

Check out the film's trailer below:

8. Middle of Nowhere (October 12)

Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley
Distributor: AFFRM/Participant

Why is it a "Must See"?  Winner of the best director prize at Sundance, Ava DuVernay's film follows a woman (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity when her husband is incarcerated. Being released theatrically by African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, it marks a sadly rare option starring and directed by African-American women.

Check out the film's trailer below.

9. The Loneliest Planet (October 26)

Director: Julia Loktev
Cast: Hani Furstenberg, Gael García Bernal and Bidzina Gujabidze
Distributor: Sundance Selects

Why is it a "Must See"? Julia Loktev's  "The Loneliest Planet" follows a spirited young couple (Gael Garcia Bernal  and Hani Furstenberg) as they backpack across the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia a few months ahead of their American wedding.  A quietly powerful film from an up-and-coming filmmaker, Indiewire reviewed the film very positively over a year ago when it premiered in Locarno. "Broadening her storytelling canvas, Loktev displays a strong narrative kinship with Kelly Reichardt," it said. "Savants of slow cinema, these filmmakers relish the challenge of allowing evocative stories to emerge from their environments in an organic fashion. It's not just meant as a stamina test; they create the palpable, occasionally haunting sense that while life may amble along, it always has a destination."

Check out the film's trailer below.

10. The Paperboy (October 5)

Director: Lee Daniels
Cast: Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey
Distributor: Millennium Films

Why is it a "Must See"? For his first film since 2009's "Precious,"  Lee Daniels is taking on "The Paperboy," a fiercely campy crime drama set in the late 1960s. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron, the film had a drastically divisive response when it debuted at Cannes earlier this year. But whatever end of the "Paperboy" spectrum you end up on (though most so far are on the negative end), if a film devoting a sizeable amount of screentime to Zac Efron in only white (often rain soaked) briefs, you won't be disappointed either way.

Check out the film's trailer (which gives you a preview of the noted screentime):

This article is related to: The Surrogate, V/H/S, The Paperboy, Wuthering Heights, Seven Psychopaths