2013 was an overwhelming year for independent cinema with various film festivals producing award winning future classics. As the top ten lists begin to halt we look forward to 2014 for another year of screen artistry; cinema doesn’t take a break. This list is not concerned with what major studios in Hollywood are churning out but instead interests itself with films that have now procured the appellation “Indie”.
A contention with the word “Indie” exists as the word appears to have lost it’s original meaning as ‘low budget’, ‘amateur’ or simply ‘independent of a larger organization’. The word has now acquired, thanks to the help of the ‘Sundance scene’, a second interpretation that now characterizes a film as ‘Edgy’ or ‘hip’.
Saying that, not all these films are low budget or independent in the old sense but still illustrate “Indie” filmmaking at its finest according to reviews so far. This list is a collection of 27 upcoming Indie films and by no means covers the spectrum of all the great movies being released this year, simply 27 of them.
27. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Watch Trailer)
Shown in the “Next” program of the Sundance Film Festival, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night has been celebrated as “The first Iranian Vampire Western”. Initial reviews liken it to Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan depictions of a bored youth culture and also borrows the expressionist black and white rendering. Produced by Elijah Wood, this hybrid horror looks like an interesting addition for Iranian New Wave filmmaking.
26. Life Itself
‘Hoop Dreams’ Director Steve James and executive producer Martin Scorsese deliver us this documentary on the late, great Roger Ebert. Film fans know Ebert as the prolific movie reviewer who had an idiosyncratic way of looking at cinema. Fresh from the Sundance Film Festival and without a distributor as of yet, Life Itself is a promising look into the life of a man that deserves to be seen on the same screen he committed his own life too.
25. The Sacrament
Writer and Director of the stylish ‘House Of The Devil’, troubadour Ti West gives us this found footage Horror Thriller based on the real events of the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. West had recently been dabbling in horror anthologies such as ‘V/H/S’ and ‘The ABC’s Of Death’; now returning to feature length, this promising film about a cult looks…promising. And hey, it’s presented by Eli Roth.
24. Happy Christmas
Joe Swanberg stars in the aforementioned ‘The Sacrament’, but writes and directs this Sundance hit, ‘Happy Christmas’. If by any chance this film is as good as his last, the delicious ‘Drinking Buddies’, I dare say it will acquire the same cult status within the mumblecore culture. Shot on Super 16mm film by the distinguished cinematographer of ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Ben Richardson (who also shot ‘Drinking Buddies’), here’s hoping for another ‘Jeff, Who Lives At Home or ‘Your Sister’s Sister’.
23. White Bird In A Blizzard (Watch Trailer)
Shailene Woodley was excellent in ‘The Descendants’. She was also excellent in ‘The Spectacular Now’. She now stars in this Indie out of Sundance Directed by Gregg Araki, known for the heavy ‘Mysterious Skin’. Also starring Eva Green, this French Thriller about a young woman whose life’s been thrown into chaos looks very promising.
22. The Zero Theorem (Watch Trailer)
Judging by the trailer, ‘The Zero Theorem’ looks like Terry Gilliam consumed a healthy diet of LSD and Absinthe in preparation for this mind bending Sci-Fi film. In other words, Gilliam is back on form completing his Dystopian Satire Trilogy (Brazil 1985, 12 Monkey’s 1995). The always enigmatic Christoph Waltz stars as Qohen Leth, a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds meaning. Seemingly like a cross between Aronofsky’s ‘Pi’ and Gilliam’s own ‘Brazil’, let’s hope this film is as good as it sounds.
21. The Rover (Watch Trailer)
Get excited. We are welcomed back into the world of ‘Animal Kingdom’. Directed by David Michôd, this time as the manifestation of ‘The Rover’. Starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, this auspicious Australian Crime Drama has been described as “A dirty and dangerous near-future western set in the Australian desert”. A short teaser was presented at the AACTA Awards, which hinted at influences such as ‘Wake In Fright’, ‘Mad Max’ and the meritorious ‘Last Ride’. Here’s saying it will be a great addition into contemporary independent Australian cinema.
Originally to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, ‘Serena’ passed through hands to Danish Director Sussanne Bier who cast Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as newlyweds. After the outstanding ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, everybody wanted to see the ridiculously beautiful Lawrence and charming Cooper together again on screen. We were granted this wish with O. Russell’s follow up ‘American Hustle’ and will now avariciously take another slice, this time set in Depression-Era North Carolina.
Champion of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, ‘Whiplash’ takes out both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for the Dramatic Competition. Simply put, a 19-year-old drummer arrives at music college dreaming of greatness, only to butt heads with the talented but terrifying drum teacher. Judging alone from it’s critical acclaim so far, we can safely say this film will take us somewhere with only a little help from the ambiguous blurb.