Some films we want 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.