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The 8 Indie Films You Must See This October (Which Is Shaping Up To Be One of the Best Months For Film In a Very Long Time)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 1, 2013 at 8:15AM

Today marks the start of what could truly one of the best months for moviegoing... ever? Week after week, some of the best films off this year's film festival circuit --whether Cannes or Toronto or Sundance or Berlin or the ongoing New York Film Festival -- will hit theaters, bringing with them a couple major Oscar contenders and probably half of most 2013 top 10 lists. And it's not just the indies. While we're keeping this list specialty market exclusive, we highly recommend you make this 8 a full 10 via studio releases "Gravity" (out October 4th) and "Captain Phillips" (out October 18th) -- certainly two of the most ambitious, satisfying films to come out of the Hollywood system this year (and the jury's still out on Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" -- out October 25th -- but it could be a studio option well worth your time as well).
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Today marks the start of what could truly one of the best months for moviegoing... ever? Week after week, some of the best films off this year's film festival circuit --whether Cannes or Toronto or Sundance or Berlin or the ongoing New York Film Festival -- will hit theaters, bringing with them a couple major Oscar contenders and probably half of most 2013 top 10 lists. And it's not just the indies. While we're keeping this list specialty market exclusive, we highly recommend you make this 8 a full 10 via studio releases "Gravity" (out October 4th) and "Captain Phillips" (out October 18th)  -- certainly two of the most ambitious, satisfying films to come out of the Hollywood system this year (and the jury's still out on Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" -- out October 25th -- but it could be a studio option well worth your time as well).

In addition to those suggestions -- and as an extension of our recent fall indie preview -- Indiewire is offering the second of four monthly fall "must-see" lists to make cinematic decision-making amidst this alleged month or months as easy as possible. From the Palme d'Or winner to an Oscar frontrunner (or two) to a handful of strong LGBT offerings, here's 8 indies you should see this October.

1. 12 Years a Slave (October 18)
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Criticwire Grade: A-

Why is it a "Must See"?  Steve McQueen's third feature film (and third collaboration with Michael Fassbender) marks his first foray into serious awards contention. "Hunger" made a solid festival run, but couldn't expand past 11 theaters in the States. "Shame" was slapped with the MPAA scarlet letters (NC-17), making it virtually ineligible for awards and actually ineligible to play at many American cinemas. Now, McQueen has a film with a respectable R rating, lots of A-list stars, and a major production company in Brad Pitt's Plan B. Throw in the fact that it came out of Toronto with the People's Choice Award and epic Oscar buzz, and McQueen could be looking at a long-lasting level of exposure -- perhaps all the way through March 2nd (but we're not ready to say that just yet).

Check out the trailer below:



2. Blue is the Warmest Color (October 25)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Cast: Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux
Distributor: Sundance Selects
Criticwire Grade: A

Why is it a "Must See"?  Hitting theaters this month with considerable controversy already under its belt (and, you know, the Palme d'Or) is Abdellatif Kechiche’s epic lesbian love story “Blue Is The Warmest Color.” The film follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a 15 year old who has her life turn inside out when she falls for blue-haired Emma (Léa Seydoux). The film is already infamous for its ten minute explicit sex scene, but there's a lot more to this in-depth character study and deconstruction of an intense relationship. Featuring remarkable performances from its young actresses, “Blue” should definitely be your warmest color come October 25th.

Check out the trailer below:


3. The Square (October 25)
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Distributor: Noujaim Films
Criticwire Grade: A-

Why is it a "Must See"? Opening at New York's Film Forum on October 25th (with our fingers crossed for a significant expansion soon after),  Jehane Noujaim's imperative new film also won the People's Choice Award in Toronto (in the documentary category -- following its Audience Award win in Sundance), as well as raves from critics. Egyptian-American filmmaker Noujaim tells the story of the Egyptian Revolution behind the headlines in the film, which follows a group of Egyptian activists for over two years as they battle leaders and regimes -- risk their lives in the process. It's a timely, intense and extremely important film that is certainly not the easiest film to digest on this list -- but more than earns a spot nonetheless.

Check out the trailer below:

4. All Is Lost (October 18)
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate
Criticwire Grade: A-

Why is it a "Must See"? It's a one man show starring Robert Redford that's already generating Oscar buzz. And J.C. Chandor's follow-up to "Margin Call" couldn't appear more removed from his 2011 feature film debut. While "Margin Call" focused on the stock market crash through lots of insider lingo and back room discussions between an ensemble of thespians, his latest picture features only one man, one boat, and the ocean. It certainly helps that the man is Robert Redford. "All Is Lost" won raves at its Cannes premiere in May, launching Redford into an always crowded Best Actor race. Here's hoping the veteran actor earns a nod (which we are currently pretty sure he will).

Check out the trailer below:


5. Kill Your Darlings (October 16)
Director: John Krokidas
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Criticwire Grade: B

Why is it a "Must See"?  Daniel Radcliffe continues his very best to make us forget all about Harry Potter with a bold turn as beat poet Allen Ginsberg in John Krokidas’s directorial debut “Kill Your Darlings.” The film – which also stars Ben Foster as William Burroughs and Dane DeHann (in a breakout performance) as Lucien Carr – premiered at Sundance earlier this year, where it was made clear to audiences that the film didn’t hold back in regard to exploring the queer identities of many of its characters, particularly Radcliffe’s Ginsberg, who gets some serious man-on-man action.

Check out the trailer below:


6. Escape From Tomorrow (October 11)
Director: Randy Moore
Cast:  Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez
Distributor: Producers Distribution Agency
Criticwire Grade: B

Why is it a "Must See"? "Escape From Tomorrow," the provocative indie shot guerrilla-style at Disney World, landed U.S. distribution via Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), despite many assuming because of its controversial method of shooting it would never hit theaters. But this October the loosely constructed, starkly black-and-white directorial debut of Randy Moore -- which follows a family on their twisted final day of vacation in Disney World -- will do just that. And we promise: You'll want to see how.

Check out the trailer below:

7. Concussion (October 4)

Director: Stacie Passon
Cast: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Jonathan Tchaikovsky, Ben Shenkman, Janel Moloney
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC
Criticwire Grade: A-

Why is it a "Must See"?  The story of a suburban lesbian housewife (an amazing Robin Weigert), “Concussion” is likely to be dubbed “the lesbian hooker movie” (as opposed to "the French lesbian movie that won at Cannes," we suppose).  But it’s much more than that. While indeed Weigert’s character decides to secretly become a prostitute for women behind the back of her wife and kids, the film uses that context to explore a complex woman who implodes amidst the heteronormative lifestyle that crept up on her. Weigert plays Abby, a forty-something lesbian who's married with two kids and lives in the New Jersey suburbia. But after being hit in the head by her son's baseball, Abby begins to unravel and through a series of events finds herself with a new double life: Lesbian housewife by night, high-end lesbian prostitute by day. It's a sexy, uncompromising and unique take on the cinematic mid-life crisis that works in large part because of Weigert's performance. It also very much continues the trend of hot lesbian sex on big screens this month.

Check out the (Red Band) trailer below:


8. In The Name Of (October 30)
Director:  Malgorzata Szumowska
Cast: Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Lukasz Simlat
Distributor: Film Movement
Criticwire Grade: C+

Why is it a "Must See"? Winner of the Teddy Award for best LGBT narrative film at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival (did we also mention this is a very gay month for movies?), Malgorzata Szumowksa’s Polish drama “In the Name Of” sensitivity approaches the central character of a gay priest. Father Adam (Andrzej Chyra, in a rather mesmerizing performance) is the pastor of a tiny parish in the middle of the Polish countryside. As drama begins to surround Father Adam, “In The Name Of…”  develops into a thoughtful, distinctive portrait of a truly devout man struggling to come to terms with himself (notably after developing a relationship with a Jesus lookalike youth at the center for difficult boys he devotes time to). And though the film is largely a serious affair, look out for the film’s doozy of a sole comic scene, in which Adam gets ridiculously drunk and dances with a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI.  

Check out the trailer below:


This article is related to: Lists, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Blue is the Warmest Color , Concussion, All Is Lost, Kill Your Darlings





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