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Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
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

"Foxcatcher"
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must See:  "Foxcatcher" was a highly anticipated potential fixture in the awards race going on right now for last year's films. But the film was pushed to 2014 at the last minute because director Miller ("Capote," "Moneyball") didn't want to rush things. But considering how crowded the current Oscar race is, maybe it was for the best. And it gives us something to very much look forward to in 2014. Starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, Sienna Miller and Vanessa Redgrave, the film tells the true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers Mark Schultz (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) and their relationship with the eccentric John du Pont (Carell), heir to the du Pont Chemical fortune that led to murder. Written by E. Max Frye and "Capote" scribe Dan Futterman, if it were to so work out roughly a year from now, it would be Bennett Miller's third straight film to receive a best picture nomination.

"Grace of Monaco"
Director: Olivier Dahan
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: March 14

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Harvey Weinsteim bumped the film's release from last December to this March, effectively barring it from this season's awards race, but that alone does not diminish our hope for the biopic. If there was ever an actress born to embody screen legend Grace Kelly, it's Nicole Kidman with her strikingly similar porcelain features and radiant on-screen presence. And director Olivier Dahan proved that he can deliver a ravishing film in the same mold, with his Oscar-winning "La Vie en Rose." Maybe Harvey was simply telling the truth; that it wasn't ready in time. Only time will tell.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel"

"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: March 7

Why It Might Be a Must-See: It’s hard to say Wes Anderson is on a roll since he never really slowed down, but "The Grand Budapest Hotel" looks like another capricious delight from America’s great chronicler of whimsical personalities. Set in the Europe of the 1920’s, the movie features Ralph Fiennes as a noted hotel concierge framed for murder and hiding from the police; meanwhile, Bill Murray naturally finds his way into the story as the manager of a rival hotel. Early buzz and trailers indicate an elegant, snappy comedy, confirming Anderson’s claims that he’s working in the tradition of great screwball director Ernst Lubitsch. While Anderson’s style might be easy to parody and sometimes too precious for its own good, there’s no doubting that he ranks among the more enjoyably inventive entertainers working in film today.

"Grand Piano"
Director: Eugenio Mira
Cast: Elijan Wood, John Cusack
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Release Date: March 7

Why It Might Be a Must See: Eugenio Mira’s wildly entertaining Brian De Palma homage stars Elijah Wood as famous young pianist Tom Selznick thrust into the hardest concert of his career — mainly because an unseen gunman (voiced by John Cusack) forces the musician to play the piece correctly in order to stay alive. While an unsuspecting audience looks on, Tom desperately pounds on one key to the next, while constantly thinking through his scenario: Who is this shadowy puppet master and what does he really want? Once the oddball premise is established, "Grand Piano" is a slick thriller that earns its reputation as a classical music riff on "Speed," with Wood transforming into an unlikely tuxedoed action figure. It’s a ridiculous and outrageously fun alternative to any big scale blockbuster you’ll see this year.

"Happy Christmas" Magnolia

"Happy Christmas"
Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham
Distributor: None of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must-See: After going all star crazy with last summer’s "Drinking Buddies," Joe Swanberg is at it again, employing bankable actors for his latest ensemble comedy, "Happy Christmas." "Buddies" star Anna Kendrick is back, alongside a roster of Swanberg newcomers including Lena Dunham, Mark Webber and Melanie Lynskey. Working with "Beasts of the Southern Wild" cinematographer Ben Richardson (who also shot "Drinking Buddies"), the quintessentially digital-friendly Swanberg made "Happy Christmas" on Super 16mm film, his first production to utilize the medium since film school.

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.