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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

"Only Lovers Left Alive"
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin
Distributor: None, though that will surely change.
Release Date: Likely to have a Cannes premiere that results in US distribution at some point later this year.
Why Might It Be A Must See: A crypto-vampire love story starring Tilda Swinton and directed by Jim Jarmusch.  That's the only sentence you need. Truly. [Peter Knegt]

"The Place Beyond the Pines" Focus Features
"The Place Beyond the Pines"
Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne.
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: March 29
Why Might It Be A Must See: "The Place Beyond the Pines," Derek Cianfrance's anticipated follow-up to his 2010 indie breakout smash "Blue Valentine," was the hottest buy out of last September's Toronto International Film Festival. The recently released trailer suggests a high-stakes crime drama that delivers an emotional wallop, while still serving the action and intrigue the genre demands. Shrouded in secrecy before its world premiere save for a promotional still and a vague plot synopsis, the drama impressed critics upon its unveiling (Indiewire's Eric Kohn gave it an A-). Reuniting with his "Blue Valentine" director, Gosling plays a stunt-biker who decides to use said skills to rob banks with a partner and provide for his child. Bradley Cooper is said to make good on the exceptional promise he showed in "Silver Linings Playbook" as a cop on Gosling's tail. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Queen of the Desert"
Director: Werner Herzog
Cast: Naomi Watts, Robert Pattinson, Jude Law
Distributor: N/A
Release date: Nothing yet.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Just because he was recently seen onscreen as the villain in "Jack Reacher" doesn't mean Herzog has sold out. Every since "Rescue Dawn," the kooky Bavarian filmmaker has entered a compelling new stage with the narrative side of his filmmaking career, delivering bizarre, discursive dramas (can anyone really explain "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?") with the same loony poetry that often spills out of Herzog's mouth (that iguana bit in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" was something else). Herzog's new movie looks like a consolidation of his life as an adventurous documentarian and oddball fiction work: The movie stars Watts as legendary explorer Gertrude Bell and Pattinson as "Lawrence of Arabia" author T.E. Lawrence. Herzog tends to bring out the maniacal side of his actors, which means this could be a thrill ride in more ways than one. [Eric Kohn]

Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Christoph Waltz and Michael Douglas
Distributor: None yet (supported by Participant Media project)
Release Date: In pre-production.
Why Might It Be a Must See: After stunning audiences in yet another Tarantino flick, Christoph Waltz will become Mikhail Gorbachev to Michael Douglas' Ronald Reagan (!).  The film tracks the 1986 Reykjavik summit that sought to smooth the relationship between the still cold world leaders. [Bryce J. Renninger]

"The Sacrament"
Director: Ti West
Cast: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, Gene Jones, Kate Lyn Sheil
Distributor: N/A
Release date: Nothing yet, but it could wind up at SXSW if finished in time.
Why Might It Be a Must See: With his debut feature "The Roost," Ti West quickly established himself as a promising new filmmaking talent in the horror genre with a style both reverential to intelligent scares of the past and willing to push the genre in inventive new directions. That potential was confirmed with subsequent projects like "The House of the Devil" and "The Innkeepers," but it was "The Roost" that brought West to the attention of torture porn auteur Eli Roth, who championed West to studios. Now the two have teamed up again, with Roth "presenting" West's latest film, the details of which have remained a secret. But West, known for his perfectionist approach, always manages to deliver something worth talking about.

Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans
Distributor: none yet
Release Date: none yet
Why Might It Be a Must See: First off, there’s the reunion of Lawrence and Cooper, who had tremendous chemistry in David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and may very well walk away with awards to show for it in February. Fans will be very eager to see them on screen together again, even if it’s in the vastly different mode of “Serena,” a dark and violent period piece based on the Ron Rash novel about a couple that moves to woodsy North Carolina in 1929 to build a lumber empire and devolves into suspicion, heartbreak and revenge in the process. The Danish Bier has yet to break through with American audiences, but she nabbed the best foreign-language film Oscar in 2010 for “In a Better World.” So the elements of this film — given its period deep-South setting — may feel incongruous, but they’re also what make the prospect intriguing. [Jay A. Fernandez]

Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Distributor: IFC Films
Release Date: none yet, though screening at Sundance Jan. 18 in the Spotlight section
Why Might It Be a Must See: The British Wheatley is quietly becoming one of the most anticipated new voices in low-budget genre filmmaking, with “Down Terrace” and “Kill List” (a big sale at SXSW in 2011) preceding this most recent and blackest of comedies. A Cannes debut in 2012, “Sightseers” follows Lowe and Oram, who also are credited with writing the script, as a couple on a holiday road trip through the countryside that quickly takes a dispiriting turn. The film is apparently just fun as hell, and Wheatley has the aura of someone who will be rising in the industry as soon as Hollywood notices his wicked sense of humor. [Jay A. Fernandez]

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  • 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!
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  • 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.

    This open letter is posted on my web-site www.malibubeachla.com

    Signed Helena Von Weinberg

  • @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.

    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)