×
Back to IndieWire

29 Indie Gems and Festival Favorites to See This Season, From ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ to ‘Suspiria’

Plus: new films from Lowery, Kusama, Heller, Pawlikowski, Kore-eda, Reitman, McQueen, and many more.

“Fahrenheit 11/9” (September 21)

“Fahrenheit 11/9”

Dog Eat Dog Films

You may consider it a failure on Michael Moore’s part that he seemed less angry, less relevant, in those blissful years between George W. Bush and Donald Trump, but maybe the failure wasn’t his. Liberals have never embraced their controversial firebrands the way conservatives do, so when Moore predicted that Trump could and would win the 2016 election, few heeded his warning. Now, two years into the alternate reality that is life post–November 8, 2016, Moore is back with “Fahrenheit 11/9” — an inversion of his most famous film whose title draws from the fact that said election was technically called in the early hours of November 9. Moore’s track record on these things isn’t great — Bush got re-elected shortly after “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and “Michael Moore in TrumpLand” didn’t do much to help Hillary — but we could all use a little righteous indignation as the midterms approach. —MN

“The Old Man & the Gun” (September 28)

"Old Man and the Gun"

“The Old Man & the Gun”

Fox Searchlight

Robert Redford, at 81, returns to the genre that made his career — romantic outlaw drama — think “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting.” Based on real-life criminal Forrest Tucker, this old man is juggling two loves, robbing banks and a beautiful woman (Sissy Spacek). He’s a 17-time bank robber who has escaped from prison 17 times too. He could go back in the slammer if the determined detective on his trail (Casey Affleck) catches him. Affleck is back for his third go-round with David Lowery, while Redford starred in the filmmaker’s “Pete’s Dragon.” Redford has declared that this could be his final screen performance. (We shall see.) Fox Searchlight took the film off the market when it was in prep. —AT

“Apostle” (October 12)

Gareth Evans might be best known for “The Raid” and “The Raid 2,” but horror fans have long praised “Safe Haven,” his segment from “V/H/S/2,” which explored a terrifying Indonesian cult. With Netflix’s “The Apostle,” Evans teams up with Dan Stevens, who stars as Thomas Richardson, a man who heads to a remote island to rescue his sister from a mysterious Victorian-era cult, led by Michael Sheen’s Prophet Malcolm. “Apostle” seems poised to expand on Evans’ wonderfully creepy “Safe Haven,” and give horror fans another chilling cult to be fascinated and terrified by. —JR

“Wildlife” (October 19)

"Wildlife"

“Wildlife”

IFC Films

Adapted from Richard Ford’s 1990 novel of the same name, Paul Dano’s directorial debut is a tender, gorgeous, and exquisitely understated drama about a family that loses its faith in itself. Set in an idyllic Montana town circa the early 1960s, and told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy whose world is falling apart, “Wildlife” tells the all-American survival story of a rudderless man (Jake Gyllenhaal) leaving his distressed young wife (Carey Mulligan) to fend for herself. Working from the spare and beautifully observed script he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan — and directing with all the confidence you might expect from someone who’s spent the last two decades living the best film school imaginable — Dano crafts an unsparing drama that’s harsh and humane in equal measure. Mulligan is particularly brilliant; supported by a script that understands her character’s challenges and approaches them with rare empathy, her frayed performance resolves into a sad and immensely affecting portrait of reinvention. —DE

“Mid90s” (October 19)

"Mid90s"

“Mid90s”

A24/YouTube

The directorial debut of none other than Jonah Hill, who also wrote the script, “Mid90s” is a coming-of-age film for older millennials can enjoy. The movie follows Stevie (“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” star Sunny Suljic), a 13-year-old boy in 1990s-era Los Angeles. Stevie spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new older friends he meets while skateboarding. Oscar-nominee Lucas Hedges plays against type as his emotionally and physically abusive older brother, and Katherine Waterston (“Inherent Vice”) stars as the boys’ mother. The film is backed by A24, which had a very successful summer with Sundance hits “Eighth Grade” and “Hereditary.” —JD

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (October 19)

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” helmer Marielle Heller snagged a slew of potential projects after her 2015 breakout starring Bel Powley, but she’s finally back in theaters this fall thanks to a long-gestating film that speaks to her fascinating with wild true stories and asks one big question: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” And what a movie to remind people how talented Heller is, thanks to a notoriously nutty story and the canny casting of Melissa McCarthy in a role that demands drama. Based on Lee Israel’s autobiography of the same name — and with a Nicole Holofcener script to boot — the film unspools the crazy story of Israel (McCarthy), once a lauded celeb biographer who turned to fraud and plagiarism when her coffers dried up. And it wasn’t just stories or books she faked, but letters from famous people, which she then sold to unsuspecting buyers (and when she couldn’t fake a good letter, she’d steal and sell a real one). It’s a story screaming for a movie from someone like Heller, who knows how to blend honesty with empathy at every turn. —KE

“Burning” (October 26)

“Burning”

Fantastic Fest

Eight years had passed since Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong brought another movie to Cannes. Lee, a precise filmmaker whose patient character studies are among some of the richest in world cinema today, doesn’t need to rush. Of course it was worth the wait: Combining forces with Haruki Murakami by adapting his short story “Barn Burning,” Lee develops a haunting, beautiful tone poem about working class frustrations, based around the experiences of frustrated wannabe writer Lee (a superb, understated Ah-in Yoo) who thinks he’s found an escape from his loneliness when he encounters Haimi (energetic newcomer Jean Jong Seo), a lively woman from his past with whom he sees romantic possibilities. That situation gets complicated by the arrival of Ben (Steven Yeung), a wealthy and assertive stranger with an American name who represents everything Lee wants in life. The filmmaker develops a fascinating, allegorical mystery around these circumstances as the drama builds to a shocking confrontation that asks as many questions as it answers. “Burning” is at once a social parable for lower class struggles and an intimate portrait of struggling for companionship and assertiveness in an indifferent world. That’s typical Lee Chang-dong territory, and it’s a thrill to have him back. —EK

“Suspiria” (November 2)

“Suspiria”

Amazon

The idea of Luca Guadagnino making a giallo movie is plenty exciting in and of itself, as the “I Am Love” and “Call Me by Your Name” director has shown a rare gift for telling stories that thrive on opulent designs and bodily desires — it’s easy to imagine him taking the sensual pleasure he derives from those elements, and twisting it into something more sinister. But Guadagnino isn’t simply making a giallo movie, he’s remaking what might be the most beloved giallo movie of all time: Dario Argento’s “Suspiria.” And he’s doing it at the height of his powers, with a ridiculous cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Sylvie Testud, Chloë Grace Moretz, and original heroine Jessica Harper. And while certain elements of the original — a waking nightmare about an American student who enrolls in a ballet school run by a coven of evil witches — are impossible to improve upon, Guadagnino has come up with some tantalizing solves. Can’t repurpose Goblin’s immortal prog rock score? No problem: Just get Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke to write his first original motion picture soundtrack. What more could you possibly need to know? —DE

“The Front Runner” (November 7)

Set in the halcyon days of 1988, Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner” tells of a long-ago time when having an extramarital affair was enough to derail someone’s presidential aspirations. Hugh Jackman stars as ill-fated Democratic candidate Gary Hart, with Vera Farmiga playing his scorned wife; Sara Paxton is Donna Rice, the other woman in question. Reitman’s second movie this year (remember “Tully”?) is based on Matt Bai’s book “All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid” and is set to premiere in Toronto before its theatrical release. It sounds like a good enough time at the movies but, like much else these days, will likely make living through the current political moment even more maddening. -MN

“Outlaw King” (November 9)

On paper, this Netflix-produced period drama sounds like a “Braveheart” rip-off, with Chris Pine playing the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce, as he tries to regain Scotland after the King of England declares him an outlaw. But the movie’s directed by David Mackenzie, who crafted first-rate suspense out of a familiar heist scenario with “Hell or High Water” while giving Pine his best role to date (and its recently-announced TIFF opening berth isn’t anything to sniff at). The British production reportedly takes place as Robert the Bruce faces a surprise attack, and contains enough action to give this ancient tale a renewed immediacy. If anyone can pull that off, Mackenzie’s the safest best. —EK

“Peterloo” (November 9)

“Peterloo”

Amazon Studios

Mike Leigh’s historical epics are gorgeous in their specific period details (see “Topsy Turvy” and “Mr. Turner,” both of which landed multiple craft Oscar nominations), which makes his return to the genre with “Peterloo” especially exciting. Lee winds the clock back to August 1819 to tell the true story of the Peterloo massacre, in which 15 people were killed and 700 wounded during a voting reform rally in St Peter’s Fields. Leigh has a gift of bringing an emotional character focus to the most expansive stories, which means he should do wonders with a historical event as ambitions as Peterloo. —ZS

This article continues on the next page.

Popular on IndieWire

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged


Newswire