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

An animated Rob Wright in "The Congress."

"Boyhood"
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
Distributor: None as of yet, but after a festival debut that should change quickly.
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must See: Richard Linklater's "Before" trilogy has enthralled audiences for almost two decades, but it's not the only time-based narrative that the ambitious filmmaker has been guiding along. For years known only as "Linklater's 12 Year Project," the nearly completed "Boyhood" is said to have begun production in Houston in the summer of 2002 and reportedly completed shooting in late 2013. The central drama involves a divorced couple (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) and their impact on their son (Ellar Salmon) as he grows from childhood to his teen years. The experimental production has largely been shrouded in secrecy as Linklater has returned to it each summer, but one can imagine based on the director's recent work that a thoughtful and tremulously innovative analysis of human development is in store.

"Carol"
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must See: The involvement of Todd Haynes or Cate Blanchett in anything warrants a must-see status, but for them to come together again 8 years after "I'm Not There" for a 1950s set lesbian drama co-starring Rooney Mara as Blanchett's love interest!? It's almost too much for us to handle. Based on the 1952 novel "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith (whose books "Strangers on a Train" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" also resulted in fantastic queer-interest films -- the latter notably also starring Cate Blanchett), the film follows Therese (Mara), a young New York department store clerk who falls for Carol (Blanchett), an older, married woman. The film is set to shoot in Spring, so it's possible we won't actually see it until 2014. But here's hoping for a Christmas "Carol" care of Haynes and Blanchett.

"The Congress"
Director: Ari Folman
Cast: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm
Distributor: Drafthouse Films
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must-See:  Among the most divisive titles to play at Cannes (our own Eric Kohn was a fan, The Playlist was not), "The Congress," loosely based on Stanislaw Lem's science-fiction novel "The Futurological Congress," takes a meta "Being John Malkovich" approach by featuring Robin Wright as a fictional version of herself, who at the outset is struggling as an actress in an industry that values youth over experience. At the behest of her agent (Harvey Keitel), Wright agrees to partake in a revolutionary experiment to create a digital replica of herself (albeit a younger one) to take over her career. The catch? The real Wright can never act again.

"Dear White People"
Director: Justin Simien
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Dennis Haysbert, Tyler James Williams
Distributor: None as of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must-See: We've got a special interest in "Dear White People," which was Indiewire and Tribeca Film Institute's first-ever Project of the Year. First-time writer/director Justin Simien's semi-autobiographical film centers on four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over an "African American" themed party thrown by white students. We're hoping for a smart satire that explores racial identity. Although he's likely to be compared to another African-American Sundance-approved filmmaker, Simien told Indiewire, "I'm not the next Spike Lee. I'm the first me."

"Dinosaur 13"
Director: Todd Douglas Miller
Distributor: None as of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must See: This opening night selection for the Sundance Film Festival contains the irresistible qualities of being a non-fiction thriller about dinosaurs. More specifically, Todd Miller’s look at the 1990 discovery of the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton suggests an element of intrigue that could be applied to all history no matter how distant. In the aftermath of the excavation, the skeleton becomes the center of a battle between the FBI and the National Guard, self-righteous museums and passionate Native American tribes. If documentary can bring this war to life with the same excitement and danger that the story entails, it may very well rank among one of the more enticing stories of the year. More than anything else, "Dinosaur 13" looks well-poised to tap into the massive reverberations of far-flung history in the present moment.

29 Comments

  • 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

    THE IMITATION GAME

  • 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)
    2-Birdman
    3-Jamie Marks Is Dead(with Liv Tyler, Judy Greer & Cameron Monaghan)
    4-Tusk
    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
    8-Nymphomaniac
    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)
    17-Foxcatcher
    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

    NEWYORKER

    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.