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The 10 Indie Films You Must See This November

The 10 Indie Films You Must See This November

November is here and as dreary as that might sound weatherwise, it’s also about to offer quite the selection to filmgoers with more than 30 films on Indiewire’s November calendar.

As an extension of our fall movie preview, Indiewire is offering the third of four monthly fall “must-see” lists to help make your cinematic decision-making over the next 30 days as easy as possible. 

From Leo Tolstoy and Monty Python to a Danish king and a man willling to find the silver linings of a hard life, check out Indiewire’s picks for Novembers 10 best options, and then head over to the full November calendar, as there are many worthy films that didn’t end up making this list.

1. Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)

Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Current Criticwire average: A- (see all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? What was once the Weinstein Company’s other big film this fall looks like it might end up trumping “Django” and “The Master” as the distributor’s biggest Oscar weapon.  Winning audience award after audience award on the film festival circuit, “Silver Linings Playbook” is aiming to win over general audiences this Thanksgiving. Based on Matthew Quick’s darkly comedic novel, the David O. Russell-directed film stars Bradley Cooper in his best performance ever (though is that really saying much?) as a man who moves back in with his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) after being released from a mental institution. But the film’s main attraction — and the frontrunner for the best actress race — is Jennifer Lawrence as a woman with some mental problems of her own. Lawrence steals every second of screentime she has, and she alone warrants your filmgoing attention come November 21st.

Watch the trailer below:

2. Rust and Bone (November 16)

Director: Jacques Audiard
Casts: Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts
Distributors: Sony Pictures Classics
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? Jacques Audiard follows up his acclaimed “A Prophet” with “Rust and Bone,” a film that has impressed many since debuting in Cannes earlier this year. Not the easiest film to explain in a few sentences, “Bone” essentially follows an unemployed man (Matthias Schoenaerts) who falls in love with a killer whale trainer (Marion Cotillard, who like Jennifer Lawrence is a big contender for a best actress nom here) who loses her legs in an accident. Based on Craig Davidson’s short story collection, the film is — like another French-language import coming our way soon (Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” out in December), a complex and challenging love story. If that doesn’t exactly sell you, how about this: It features the best use of Katy Perry in a movie ever.

Watch the trailer below:

3. Hitchcock (November 23)

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johannson, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Danny Huston
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Current Criticwire average: N/A (but check back)

Why is it a “Must See”? A last minute addition to this year’s release calendar, “Hitchcock” adapts Stephen Rebello’s non-fiction book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho,'” stars a very juicy cast in Anthony Hopkins (as Alfred Hitchcock), Helen Mirren (as his wife, Alma Reville), Scarlett Johannson (as Janet Leigh), James D’Arcy (as Anthony Perkins), Jessica Biel (as Vera Miles), and many others. Fox Searchlight definitely seems to think it has something special, rushing it to theaters (it was shot this spring) in a clear bid to join this year’s Oscar race. Even if that isn’t the end result, it sure looks like a fun time:

4. The Central Park Five (November 23)

Director: Ken Burns, David McMahon
Distributor: Sundance Selects
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? Already one of the most talked about docs of the year on the festival circuit (it premiered in Cannes), Ken Burns and David McMahon’s “The Central Park Five” is hitting theaters this month and it’s most definitely a must see.  The film tells the horrifying story of five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. After spending between 6 and 13 years in prison, a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, leading to their convictions being overturned.

Check out the trailer below.

5. Anna Karenina (November 16)

Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams, Holliday Grainger
Distributor: Focus Features
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Are They “Must Sees”? A literary classic gets a brand new cinematic take thanks to Joe Wright and an all-star cast. Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” (last adapted in 1997 by Bernard Rose) comes to life again via a re-teaming of Wright and Keira Knightley (their third film together). The film has had generally muted buzz since screening at the Toronto Film Festival, but it was indeed warmly received there overall, with many suggesting Oscar possibilties for Knightley (and raving about the film’s design). The fact that the film didn’t do so well in its native UK when it was released there in September doesn’t help things, but a strong reception stateside could change that.

Check out the trailer below:

6. A Royal Affair (November 9)

Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Cast:  Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Følsgaard
Distributor: Magnolia
Current Criticwire average: B (see all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? The Danish entry in this year’s Oscar race, “A Royal Affair” stars great Dane Mads Mikkelsen as an 18th century royal physician who romances the queen while tending to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Følsgaard ). The film premiered to strong reviews at the Berlinale earlier this year, with Mikkel Følsgaard winning the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg winning screenplay honors at the fest.

Check out the trailer below:

7. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House of God (November 16)

Director: Alex Gibney
Distributor: HBO Documentary FIlms
Current Criticwire average: B+ (See all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? Tireless doc filmmaker Alex Gibney (“Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” “Taxi To The Dark Side,” “Enron”) takes on the abuse of power in the Catholic Church in his latest film. He discovers a cover-up that goes all the way to the highest office of the Vatican. A definite must see doc.

Check out the trailer below:

8. A Liar’s Autobiography (November 9)

Director: Bill Jones
Cast: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
Distributor: IFC Films
Current Criticwire average: C+ (See all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? “Monty Python” cast members John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam pay tribute to their late colleague Graham Chapman in this 3-D animated (and not entirely truthful) account of his life story. Directors Bill Jones (Terry Jones’ son), Ben Timlett and Jeff Simpson have utilized Chapman’s own voice (from a recording of him reading the book the film is based on) as well as his former “Python” co-stars. They also used 14 different animation studios for various chapters of the story, making this “Untrue Story” a unique display of animation’s many potential forms!

Check out the trailer below:

9. Killing Them Softly (November 30)

Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Current Criticwire average: B (See all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? Brad Pitt reteams with his “Assassination of Jesse James” director Andrew Dominik for the film formerly known as “Cogan’s Trade,” “Killing Them Softly.” Adapted from George V. Higgins’ novel and set in New Orleans, the film follows professional enforcer Jackie Cogan (Pitt), who investigates a heist that goes down during a high stakes, mob-related poker game. The film got decent reviews out of Cannes (especially for scene-stealer James Gandolfini).

Check out the trailer below:

10. Starlet (November 9)

Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Karren Karagulian
Distributor: Music Box Films
Current Criticwire average: B- (see all grades)

Why is it a “Must See”? Sean Baker follows up his film festival hit “Prince of Broadway” with “Starlet,” which premiered at SXSW earlier this year. The cross-generational story follows 21 year-old aspiring actress Jane (Dree Hemingway) and elderly widow Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women who form a complicated and unlikely relationship. Naturalistic in the same vein as “Broadway,” the film continues to suggest Baker as a young American filmmaker to watch.

Check out the trailer below:

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