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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

"The Immigrant"
Director: James Gray
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Labeled "the most divisive film in last year's Cannes competition" by Indiewire's Eric Kohn, James Gray's Marion Cotillard-starring period drama "The Immigrant" was among one of the most anticipated and ultimately debated films to play at the event. Beloved by many for what Kohn described as its "classical virtues" and derided by some who found the pacing too deliberate and the protagonist too opaque, "The Immigrant" was dropped by its original distributor The Weinstein Company, only to be picked up by its RADiUS label. The 1920s set drama stars Cotillard as Ewa, a Polish woman with a mysterious past who immigrates to New York in the hope of a better life for her and her sister. When her sibling is detained by authorities and confined after she shows signs of illness, Ewa meets a seedy show runner (Gray frequent collaborator Joaquin Phoenix), who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. With the money earned, Ewa hopes to free her sister and be reunited.

"I Origins"
Director: Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, Michael Pitt, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Archie Panjabi, Steven Yeun
Distributor: None as of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Mike Cahill's debut feature, the sci-fi "Another Earth" won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance ’11, and "I Origins" has already received the Sundance stamp of approval. Not only will it premiere at the upcoming fest, but the film also was the first-ever recipient of the Dolby Family Sound Fellowship. Cahill wrote, directed, produced and edited the film about a molecular biologist and his lab partner who discover evidence that could have dramatic implications for society. We're expecting some stunning visuals and impressive sound design.

"Laggies"

"Laggies"
Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Moretz, Mark Webber
Distributor: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must-See: A new movie from "Humpday" filmmaker Lynn Shelton is always a welcome prospect, and "Laggies" finds the director working with her highest profile cast yet as well as making her first film penned by another screenwriter -- Andrea Seigel in her screenplay debut. Keira Knightley stars as a woman who, after her boyfriend (Mark Webber) proposes, lies about going on a business trip in order to spend time with her new teenage friend (Chloë Grace Moretz). Shelton's always been good about belated coming of age stories -- it should be fun to see how the often very grown up Knightley.

"Le Week-end"
Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum
Distributor: Music Box Films
Release Date: March 14

Why It Might Be a Must See: Last year’s "Before Midnight" ended with its feuding lovers imagining what it might be like to grow old together. While it involves a different set of characters, Roger Michell’s "Le Week-end" may answer that question anyway, as it involves a near-geriatric British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) wandering Paris on a vacation gone awry while going for the jugular in their arguments over the proper direction for their remaining lives. Michell's tender comedy-drama — written by "My Beautiful Laundrette" scribe Hanif Kureishi — gets under your skin with darkly amusing exchanges between the couple that marry the humor with a philosophical sadness and vice versa. Also featuring a naturally hilarious appearance by Jeff Goldblum as the Broadbent character’s more successful former colleague, "Le Week-end" is both a somber existential medication and a cynical rant, yet maintains a sense of levity as its stars gradually shed their problems and rediscover the romanticism that drew them together in the first place.

"Life Itself"
Director: Steve James
Cast: Roger Ebert, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese
Distributor: None as of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival and simultaneous live stream available to the film's Indieigogo backers

Why It Might Be a Must-See: It's the first-ever feature-length documentary on the life of Roger Ebert, which is enough of a reason for us to see it. But the fact that it's directed by Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and features interviews with filmmakers such as Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay and Martin Scorsese (who is one o the film's executive producers), elevates the film to must-see status. No doubt, it will cover Ebert's early days at the University of Illinois to his move to Chicago where he became the first critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, and then to his time on television where he became a household name alongside Gene Siskel. But we're most excited to see the way the film handles Ebert's "third act," when he overcome disabilities and became an important voice on social media, not to mention his ongoing love affair with his wife, Chaz Ebert.

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.