Sundance Review | A Cult and A Time Traveler in NEXT Entry "The Sound of My Voice"
Fox Searchlight "Sound of My Voice"

The winter's post-Oscar doldrums are gone and the Spring specialty film release calendar is abuzz with an eclectic mix of films American and international, narrative and documentary, dramatic and comic. Before the summer season ups the ante, it's an excellent opportunity to check out a batch of smaller (even in terms of indie) films that certainly warrant your attention.

Whether it's Bob Marley, the Pope, Brit Marling or Whit Stilman, check out Indiewire‘s picks for the eight best options, and then check out the full calendar; there’s many worthy films that didn’t make this list.

1. Sound of My Voice

Why Is It a "Must See"? One of the last 2011 Sundance Film Festival acquisitions to get a theatrical release, Zal Batmanglij's "Sound of My Voice" is also one of the most acclaimed. It follows a journalist (Christopher Denham) and his girlfriend (Nicole Vicius), who get pulled in while they investigate a cult whose leader (rising star Brit Marling, who co-wrote the screenplay with Batmanglij) claims to be from the future. A multi-layered look at human nature, the film topped Indiewire's mid-year poll of the best films so far in 2011, and is likely to end up on a few top 10 lists come December as well. (April 27; Fox Searchlight)

What Do Critics Think?  "Sound of My Voice" has a  A- average on its Criticwire page.

2. Damsels in Distress

Why Is It a "Must See"?  Whit Stillman's first film since 1998's "The Last Days at Disco," "Damsels in Distress" debuted to warm reviews when it closed the Venice Film Festival last year. The film follows a trio of girls (including Greta Gerwig) who set out to alter the male-dominated environment of a newly co-ed East Coast university. Clever and quirky, "Damsels" is unlikely to disappoint fans of Stillman's earlier work or those being introduced to him now. (April 6; Sony Pictures Classics)

What Do Critics Think?  "Damsels in Distress" has a B average on its Criticwire page.