Side Effects Rooney Mara

So while it's true that February isn't exactly the prime month for quality independent filmmaking to find release (and many of us are still catching up on the plethora of such that was released toward the end of last year), the month ahead most definitely has a few high quality options, two of them Oscar nominees finally making their way to theaters.

From Steven Soderbergh to William Shakespeare, check out Indiewire's picks for February's 5 best options, and then head over to the full month's calendar, as there are many worthy films (including studio offerings) that didn't end up making this list.

1. Side Effects (February 8)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum
Distributor: Open Road
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must Sees"? While somewhat questionable in its "indie" designation here, it was too hard to deny Steven Soderbergh's allegedly final theatrically released film the top spot here. Written by Scott Z. Burns (who also wrote Soderbergh films "Contagion" and "The Informant!"), the well-reviewed film follows a New York couple (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum, in his third straight Soderbergh film) whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by her psychiatrist (Jude Law) -- intended to treat anxiety -- has unexpected side effects. Whether or not this actually ends up being Soderbergh's final feature film (though there's definitely still HBO's Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra," airing later this year), "Side Effects" should prove one of February's few cinematic highlights (and it's the only film on this list guaranteed a wide release because it's getting one right of the bat -- hence the not-so-indie aspect).

Check out the trailer below:

2. No (February 15)

Director: Pablo Larraín
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Luis Gnecco
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Current Criticwire average: A- (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must Sees"? Chile managed its very first Oscar nomination for best foreign language film with Pablo Larraín's "No," which has been winning raves on the film festival circuit since it debuted in Cannes last May.  "For his third and most accomplished work," Eric Kohn wrote in his Cannes review, "Larraín has traded the allegorical track for the real thing, delivering a lively, mesmerizing drama about a national call to action during the 1988 referendum on Pinochet's presidency. With a full-bodied turn by Gael Garcia Bernal as its anchor, 'No broadens Larraín's range by replicating historical events in engrossing detail."

Check out the trailer below: