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by Indiewire
January 4, 2013 1:21 PM
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The 50 Indie Films We Want To See In 2013

"Before Midnight"
"Before Midnight"
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Distributor: None, but that will change very soon. (Note: This is corrected from original listing of "Warner Brothers").
Release Date: Premiering at Sundance this month, no theatrical date has been set (but if they're smart whoever picks it up will have it out for Summer).
Why Might It Be a Must See: This might just be the must see, as far as I'm concerned. The second sequel to Richard Linklater's beloved 1995 "Before Sunrise" (and first to his perhaps even more beloved 2004 film "Before Sunset"), "Before Midnight" reunites us with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) almost two decades after they met on a train bound for Vienna. Now in their early forties, "Midnight" finds them reuniting in Greece and likely facing a time contraint related to 12am, though not much is officially known. Frankly, the less known the better as we enter the third chapter of one of the great love stories of American indie cinema. [Peter Knegt]

"Beneath"
Director: Larry Fessenden
Cast: Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, Chris Conroy
Distributor: Chiller
Release date: None yet, but it could find a way into SXSW's midnight lineup. The Chiller network has already lined up a deal to broadcast the movie.
Why It Might Be a Must-See: Seven years have passed since indie horror guru Fessenden's last feature, the global warming cautionary tale "The Last Winter," which itself arrived five years after Fessenden's "Wendigo." The director likes to take his time on projects while fostering a new generation of filmmakers inclined toward spooky narratives, like Ti West. But Fessenden, an outspoken environmentalist, is also guided by activist impulses, which makes the various monsters populating his movies into potent symbols. "Beneath" follows a group of high school seniors stuck on a rowboat and attacked by man-eating fish, which sounds like the cheesy backbone for anyone but Fessenden, whose track record suggests he can deliver something alternately spooky and insightful. [Eric Kohn]

"The Bling Ring"
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Leslie Mann, Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga
Distributor: None yet, but expect that to change shortly.
Release Date: Likely sometime this summer should it find a distributor. It's rumored to open in France during June via Pathe.
Why Might It Be A Must See: Following her Venice award-winning quiet character study "Somewhere," Sofia Coppola is back with "The Bling Ring," a film that on paper seems like fresh ground for the Oscar-winner. While still centered on the wealthy class like "Lost in Translation," "Marie Antoinette" and "Somewhere," "The Bling Ring" is essentially a crime caper, a genre Coppola has never mined before. The film is based on the true story of a group of rich Californian teens who decided to start a heist gang and begin robbing celebrity's houses (including those of Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox). Lohan doesn't star, but Emma Watson does, along with Leslie Mann in a project that's has nothing to do with Judd Apatow. [Nigel M. Smith]

"The Butler"
Director: Lee Daniels
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Robin Williams, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Forest Whitaker, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jesse Williams, Melissa Leo, Mariah Carrey and Oprah Winfrey
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date:  Likely sometime in the fall to capitalize on awards season.
Why Might It Be A Must See: That cast. There's no film coming out in 2013 with a cast as esteemed and massive as the crop that appears in Lee Daniels' follow-up to his supremely divisive "The Paperboy." Inspired by Wil Haygood's Washington Post article about a black man who served as White House butler to eight presidents over three decades, "The Butler" boasts a script by Daniels and Emmy-winner Danny Strong ("Game Change"), and has Harvey Weinstein backing it as a hopeful awards contender. While "The Paperboy" failed to crossover in the way his Oscar-winning "Precious" did, there's still no denying the producer-turned-filmmaker is one of the best in the business when it comes to eliciting unexpected performances from his actors -- Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy," Mariah Carey" in "Precious" and Helen Mirren in "Shadowboxer" are all testaments to that. With "The Butler"'s exceptional cast, chances are there will be more than a few worth singling out. [Nigel M. Smith]

"C.O.G."
Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Cast: Jonathan Groff, Corey Stoll, Casey Wilson, Troian Bellisario, Denis O'Hare
Distributor: None as of yet.
Release Date: Premiering in competiiton at Sundance. Word on distribution and release date should follow soon after.
Why Might It Be a Must See:  For the first time ever, a David Sedaris story will become a movie! "C.O.G." -- a short story from Sedaris' best-selling 1997 essay collection Naked -- will begin production in October from writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who won the "Someone To Watch" Indie Spirit Award for his 2009 directorial debut "Easier Than Practice." The story is based on Sedaris' experiences in his late 20s when he went to go work as an apple picker in the orchards of Oregon. Once there he found himself at odds with the locals and the religious right... It's a great story, and hopefully a great movie that kicks off more in the way of Sedaris adaptation. [Peter Knegt]

"The Canyons"
"The Canyons"
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Gus Van Sant, Nolan Gerard Funk and James Deen.
Distributor: None yet.
Release Date: Not yet announced.
Why Might It Be A Must See: Lindsay Lohan and porn sensation James Deen band together to star in this trashy modern-day noir scripted by literary bad boy Bret Easton Ellis and directed by Paul Schrader in “Auto Focus”-“American Gigolo” mode. With this pedigree, "The Canyons" has a delicious recipe for a real good kind of bad (the lurid and pulpy trailers sure indicate that that's the case). Shot for cheap last summer in Los Angeles, the thriller documents five twenty-something's quest for power, love, sex and success modern day Hollywood. Whether is has the makings of something incisive remains to be seen. With Ellis and Schrader behind it, signs point to yes. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Dallas Buyers Club"
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts
Distributor: None as of yet.
Release Date: Look for it to be a world premiere at a major festival (Cannes seems iffy, but surely Toronto if not). If reviews are strong, it should be released for Oscar consideration by end of year.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Considering how few major American narrative films have tackled HIV/AIDS history -- especially in the past decade or so -- it's definitely a bit unnerving on the surface to see one finally arrive that tackles the epidemic, by from the real life perspective of a womanizing, homophobic man who, in 1986 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS. The real-life story sees him come to terms with his homophobia through his experiences smuggling alternative medicine with an HIV positive transexual woman (played by Jared Leto). Which could prove a bit trying if it overdoes a tolerance theme. But the director (Quebec's Jean-Marc Vallée, who made "C.R.A.Z.Y."), and the cast (Matthew McConaughey plays the lead) are promising enough to let us have hope this doesn't turn into a "Philadelphia" for the 2010s. [Peter Knegt]

"Devil’s Knot"
Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Elias Koteas, Stephen Moyer, Alessandro Nivola
Distributor: none yet
Release Date: none yet, though an acquisition in the first half of the year would give it time for a late Fall awards run
Why Might It Be a Must See: Egoyan is a versatile filmmaker whose canted storytelling techniques often bring an extra element to his typically dark stories of flawed people wrestling with their own morality. The infamous case of the West Memphis Three provides fascinatingly rich material for his kind of cinematic dissection. While they’ve been well covered in four documentaries, this is the first time that the horrifying murders and their effect on the community will be tackled in a fiction format. That the ongoing real-life story continues to provide twists and surprises gives Egoyan’s film a timeliness that should increase its appeal with moviegoers. [Jay A. Fernandez]

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24 Comments

  • Bobby Washington | April 15, 2013 2:10 AMReply

    Hot New Indie Film "STEEL CHAMBER" (Suspense/Thriller) You Can Play A Major Role In Its Success!
    Watch Trailer: http://tinyurl.com/SteelChamberMovie
    Get Behind This Indie Film!

  • Mark Jenson | March 23, 2013 11:32 PMReply

    Why don't they have Pursuit: The Series up?! In my opinion that is one of the most promising indie projects. Please help bring it to indiewire's attention.

  • CC | March 13, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    So, where is FREE RIDE, with Anna Pacquin filmed in 2011 in Florida?

  • Mary Strickland | January 13, 2013 1:41 PMReply

    Sorry the correct website for Limbus is www.Limbusmovie.com

  • Mary Strickland | January 13, 2013 1:37 PMReply

    What about 'Limbus"??// www.limbus.com

  • Chelsea Taylor | January 5, 2013 1:17 PMReply

    What about Computer Chess or Melt The Wings? Think outside the box for a second

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  • Ice Age | January 4, 2013 8:13 PMReply

    How come you left out Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer?

  • Jen | January 4, 2013 7:45 PMReply

    I'm surprised JGL's Don Jon's Addiction didn't make it on such a long list.

  • makinstatements | January 4, 2013 6:57 PMReply

    It's really sad that "independent film" has become nothing more than a marketing term. Even "indiewire" is listing movies financed or distributed entirely or in part by studios as "independent. What are all the rest of us - actual "independent filmmakers" - supposed to do now? We need a new term, new film festivals and new distributors.

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  • Doug | January 4, 2013 5:37 PMReply

    Pretty sure "THE PROJECTIONIST" should have made this list if Untitled David O. Russell movies made for $25mil are considered "indie"

  • nikki | January 4, 2013 5:37 PMReply

    The Rover anybody? I liked David Michôd's Animal Kingdom, so I'm looking forward to his next one The Rover with Guy Pierce and Rob Pattinson, which plays in the outback of Australia.

  • Kanerwa | January 6, 2013 2:08 PM

    I'm waiting for The Rover:)

  • Helena Von Weinberg | January 4, 2013 4:00 PMReply

    This is an open letter to Keri Putnam and Jill Miller and is also a petition directed to the Board of Directors at the Sundance Film Institute to discharge both Keri Putnam and Jill Miller of their positions at the Sundance Institute. Both Keri Putnam and Jill Miller have refused to acknowledge the inappropriate conduct of the head of the programming departments, John Cooper whose lack of professional judgement, courtesy, and general management capabilities is appalling; furthermore, I intend to expostulate the current matter until I nullify Sundance Institutes mandatory submission process and it ceases to accept fees from filmmakers who it has been bamboozling from its monotonous antiquated pretenses.


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  • @Nigel | January 4, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    FRANCES HA is not included.

  • @RichardJohnCEO | January 4, 2013 2:03 PMReply

    Pretty huge list Indiewire. Looking forward to seeing most of these films if not all of them for sure though.

    Richard John @ Rymatica

  • Marie-Pier | January 4, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    I don't know if I missed it, but if not ''The East'' by Zal Batmanglij should be there.

  • Thor | January 4, 2013 2:00 PMReply

    Tracy Letts is a man, by the way. Also wrote Killer Joe.

  • randy | January 4, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    this list is way too long, we all know there can't be 50 good films in a year. I wish some day, Indie wire had more demanding tastes...

  • XXXX | January 4, 2013 1:49 PMReply

    What about these?

    - Lowlife by James Gray
    - Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach
    - Mood Indigo by Michel Gondry
    - Her by Spike Jonze
    - Magic Magic by Sebastian Silva
    - The Look of Love by Michael Winterbottom
    - Computer Chess by Andrew Bujalski
    - Wrong Cops by Quentin Dupieux
    - Much Ado About Nothing by Joss Whedon
    - Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine
    - The Double by Richard Ayoade
    - Blood Ties by Guillaume Canet
    - The Two Faces of January by Hossein Amini
    - Can a Song Save Your Life? by John Carney
    - Don Jon`s Addiction by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    - Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer
    - Prince Avalanche by David Gordon Green

  • XXXX | January 4, 2013 4:15 PM

    @Nigel M. Smith
    Yes it is. I didn't notice it, sorry.

    @randy
    Lowlife is not $20M+.

    If Warm Bodies and Admission count as indies, I don't see why these two don't. Anyway, there's no strict definition of an indie movie.

  • Nigel M. Smith | January 4, 2013 2:05 PM

    FRANCES HA is included.

  • randy | January 4, 2013 2:00 PM

    since when over 20 millions pictures are independent? (i.e. blood ties, low life)