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The 50 Indie Films Indiewire Wants to See in 2014

By Paula Bernstein, Peter Knegt, Eric Kohn, Nigel M. Smith and Alison Willmore | Indiewire January 9, 2014 at 12:44PM

Indiewire looks to the upcoming year with anticipated new movies from Wes Anderson, Joe Swanberg, Richard Linklater, Woody Allen and more.
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An animated Rob Wright in "The Congress."
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

"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.

This article is related to: Most Anticipated 2014, Sundance 2014, Movie Lists, Lists, News, Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival