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by Paula Bernstein, Peter Knegt, Eric Kohn, Nigel M. Smith and Alison Willmore
January 9, 2014 12:44 PM
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The 50 Indie Films Indiewire Wants to See in 2014

Some films we want to see in 2014

With the avalanche of 2013 Top Ten lists petering out and the Sundance Film Festival a mere week away from introducing what could be this year's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" or "Fruitvale Sation," it's time to stop reflecting on the past year's cinema and start getting excited about this one's. Because if the 50 films most anticipated by Indiewire's editors listed below are any indication, it looks like a very promising year ahead.

Here are 50 indies, in alphabetical order, likely to be released in 2014 that Indiewire's staff are most excited to see:

"Animal Rescue"
Director: Michael R. Roskam
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Oscar-nominated "Bullhead" director Michael R. Roskam makes his English-language debut with "Animal Rescue," a crime drama that features James Gandolfini in his final on-screen performance. Based on a short story by Dennis Lehane ("Gone Baby Gone"), the film follows a New York bartender (Tom Hardy), caught in the middle of a bloody heist, who rescues a puppy only to become the target of the pooch's crazy owner. Noomi Rapace co-stars.

"Big Bad Wolves"
Director: Navot Papushado, Aharon Kettles
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Release Date: January 17

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Quentin Tarantino has already dubbed this Israeli revenge thriller "the best film of the year," so, of course, we're intrigued. Writers-directors Papushado and Keshales previously teamed up on the Israeli horror film, "Rabies" and in "Big Bad Wolves" they deal with similarly dark material --the story involves a police detective who tortures a man suspected of being a child killer. Sounds bleak, but word is that it's also funny -- in a twisted Tarantino sort of way.

"Big Eyes"
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must See: Tim Burton has gotten a lot of flack as of late thanks to big budget, critically panned films like "Alice in Wonderland" and "Dark Shadows." But he's making a return to fantasy-free, low-budget fare with in 2014 -- really for the first time since 1994's "Ed Wood" (which is perhaps his most critically acclaimed film). With a script from "Wood" screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, "Big Eyes" takes on the true story of husband and wife artists Walter and Margaret Keane (Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams), the former of whom rose to fame in 1950s for his paintings of big-eyed kids. But a heated divorce later saw Margaret accuse Walter of stealing credit for those paintings, and all hell breaks loose. With a supporting cast including Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston and Jason Schwartzman, the film marks an extraordinarily promising career move for Burton. Here's hoping it makes us completely forget about "Dark Shadows" and anticipate a whole new era of work from Burton.

Director: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
Cast: Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Keaton
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, the filmmaker behind such depressing epic dramas as "Amores Perros," "21 Grams" and "Babel" breaks new ground with his latest, the ensemble comedy "Birdman." Michael Keaton stars in the film as an actor best known for playing an iconic superhero in movies (great casting) who attempts to mount a Broadway play. His bid to gain industry respect is thwarted when he begins to butt heads with the lead actor of the play. Emma Stone, Naoimi Watts, Edward Norton and Andrea Riseborough all co-star.

"The Boxtrolls"
Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Cast: Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: September 26

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Laika, the Portland-based stop-motion outfit that brought you "Coraline" and "ParaNorman" are back this fall with another animated family film sure to impress, "The Boxtrolls." The film, featuring the voices of Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg and Toni Collette, is based on the book "Here Be Monsters!," and centers on a young orphan boy raised by trolls who has to save his clan when an evil exterminator threatens his brood. The trailer for the film, which has been playing before "Frozen" in theaters, hints at a lovingly animated tale in the ghoulish vein of Laika's two predecessors.

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  • Anish Panicker | April 20, 2014 4:01 AMReply

    Nice list of movies, definitely all deserves their places.. I am looking forward to 'The Raid 2 - Berandal', which I think haven't released in India.

  • Lesley | March 28, 2014 1:03 PMReply

    I know this is an old article but LORD where are the editors at Indiewire? SO many grammatical errors, misspellings, half-sentences, etc. Some of the photos are captioned and some are not. Did anyone read this before it was posted? I find so many errors in Indiewire articles these days.

    Also, I agree with the people saying that these films do not reflect true 'indies.' It's essentially a list of the biggest-name films that played at Sundance this year. There were some truly beautiful actual INDIE films that played the fest this year, but they're nowhere to be found in a list dominated by Keira Knightley, Wes Anderson, and the like.

  • FESTIVAL GOER | February 19, 2014 7:41 AMReply

    Sand Castles should be on this list.

  • Ray | February 18, 2014 7:50 PMReply

    These are not indie by any stretch.

  • Joe H. | February 18, 2014 2:43 PMReply

    Where's Under the Skin??? Did I miss something??

  • Nic | February 18, 2014 10:43 AMReply

    You have to laugh, and read no further, when the first film featured on your 50 'Indie' films is from Fox Searchlight!!

  • John | January 29, 2014 11:18 AMReply

    "Red State" was neither a critical nor a commercial failure. Certainly not the latter. A divisive film yes, which is to be expected from a divisive filmmaker, but in no sense was it a failure commercially, they four walled the f*ck out of the little picture and were out of the red in a matter of weeks. Do your goddamn research.

  • Bern | January 12, 2014 1:26 AMReply

    It's "Gonzalez", not "Gonzales"

  • Brian | January 11, 2014 12:47 PMReply

    Why Don't You Play in Hell - It won the Midnight Madness prize at Toronto. R100 No GENRE FILMS AT ALL. BORGMAN?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  • Um | January 12, 2014 12:48 PM

    Grand Piano -- genre film. Just sayin'.

  • Randy The Ram | January 10, 2014 4:39 PMReply

    whatever happened to the MONA LISA remake ?

    mickey rourke and eva green

    http://www.youtube dot com/watch?v=4bRJ0yyVb_o

  • james | January 10, 2014 10:45 AMReply

    Agree with several of the above posters... WE NEED A NEW TERM for truly "Indie" films. There was a time when Sundance and "Indie" meant something.

    Now it's been co-opted as a marketing term for anything "edgy."

    But more importantly - people need to open their eyes to the fact that "Indies" have become Hollywoods equivalent to shipping manufacturing jobs overseas. Studios once took risks on interesting films, now they ship those same scripts off to producers (often with a loose promise of some minor financing or distribution help) who can make them for 10% of what the studio could make them for. Then they buy them on the other end at a deep discount.

    Fox can't ask the Key Set PA to work for tuppence and sleep on someone's couch but I (as an "Indie" Producer) can and in the long run it saves Fox a ton.

    Not only all of this - but REAL "Indies" need to have the spotlight back. They're dying on the vine without the attention they once had. Remember Indiewire??? You used to cover them back in the day.

  • Long Distance | January 11, 2014 2:34 PM

    This could not be more accurate. Great post James! There needs to be a new category to differentiate.

  • Derek | January 10, 2014 7:19 AMReply

    I hate spelling words wrong - "film" is films

  • Derek | January 10, 2014 7:17 AMReply

    You forgot Wedding Palace. Now there are a gang of films on here that I want to see, some I've seen, but you left this indie romantic comedy off the list, maybe you didn't know about it. But that's cool, we can't know about everything, like I didn't know about many of the film on this list that I will now see. But here's Wedding Palace, a film I co-produced & edited:

    Official Movie Trailer: http://youtu.be/F-m4OaIGmuM
    Watch the Movie: iTunes US - http://bit.ly/1cO25Sa
    iTunes Canada - http://bit.ly/1ddQfqE

  • JonOhm | January 10, 2014 6:19 AMReply

    1. Coherence: http://youtu.be/VWY2KHReyRE
    2. LFO: http://youtu.be/dWAB-oZRJK8
    3. R100: http://youtu.be/jLMWi2udXGY
    4. Proxy: http://youtu.be/BcvPmieIUNk
    5. OXV: The Manual: http://youtu.be/NPNf3pP1ATc

  • Bam | January 10, 2014 2:36 AMReply


  • NewYorker | January 9, 2014 9:54 PMReply

    20 indie films im looking forward to see in 2014 are
    1-The Cobbler(with Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman & Melonie Diaz)
    3-Jamie Marks Is Dead(with Liv Tyler, Judy Greer & Cameron Monaghan)
    5-The Voices(with Ryan Reynolds & Anna Kendricks)
    6-Men, Women and children(with Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson & J.K. Simmons)
    7-Grand Budapest Hotel
    9-Back In The Day(with Michael Rosenbaum & Nick Swardson)
    10-Grace Of Monaco
    11-Veronica Mars
    12-Imagine(a film with Al Pacino, Jennifer Garner & Josh Peck)
    13-Devil's Knot(with Colin Firth & Reese Witherspoon)
    14-The Angriest Man in Brooklyn(with Mila Kunis, Robin Williams & James Earl Jones)
    15-White Bird In a Blizzard
    16-Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2(the sequel to SLC Punk)
    18-St. Vincent(with Bill Murray & Melissa McCarthy)
    19-Life After Beth(with Aubrey Plaza, Dane Dehaan & John C. Reilly)
    20-Welcome To Me(with Kristen Wiig & Wil Ferrel)

  • Mr Blonde | January 10, 2014 4:42 PM


    10-grace of Monaco

    some bad news buddy :(

    http://www.hollywoodreporter dot com/news/grace-monaco-director-bashes-harvey-649447

  • Ronnie D. | January 9, 2014 4:56 PMReply

    Oh, saw The Congress, and it was absolutely fantastic and entirely captivating throughout.

  • Ronnie D. | January 9, 2014 4:51 PMReply

    Indiewire, please define "indie". How is a film released by the Weinstein Brothers and directed by well established director Tim Burton considered an indie film?

  • James McD | January 9, 2014 5:07 PM

    Big Eyes is being made for just $10 million. It might be a "big indie," but it still qualifies.

  • 1974 | January 9, 2014 2:02 PMReply

    hmmm, how about Miss Julie? You have little faith in it?

  • Marian | February 19, 2014 2:38 AM

    Yes! I want to see Liv Ullman's Miss Julie! And Ana Lily Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. And Sophie Hyde's 52 Tuesdays. etc. etc. I'm *shocked* that there are so few (three? four?) women-directed films on your list when even I know of these good ones. Please find more. And I WISH I had the option to see your lists on a single page...

  • guest1490 | January 9, 2014 7:57 PM

    Yes!! What about Miss Julie? it's directed by Liv Ullmann and it has Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton playing the main roles, it's a definitely a must see in 2014!

  • Iz | January 9, 2014 1:42 PMReply

    Far From the Madding Crowd is at Fox Searchlight

  • Nenrota | January 9, 2014 1:29 PMReply

    Whatever happened to Inherent Vice, I wonder.

  • Nenrota | January 9, 2014 1:51 PM

    Then I guess the definition of indie is open to debate when you have works released by companies such as Focus Features, TWC etc, which IMHO qualify as studios.

  • Nigel | January 9, 2014 1:36 PM

    A studio release (Warner Bros.). This is a list of the 50 indies.