Jordan’s 10 Most Anticipated Independent Films of 2014
Although the majority of moviegoers see two-five movies a year – and they reserve these two-five movies for the biggest releases – more hardcore cinephiles generally consider smaller movies to be the real gems. Looking at my favorite movies of the year, Before Midnight, Her, and The Spectacular Now were all limited releases. This isn’t an anomaly either because the best film of 2012 (according to me) was another limited release in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Chances are 2014 will follow the trend. 11 months from now, I’ll be narrowing down the movies and most likely paying close attention to the limited releases. I figured it’d be fun to do a companion piece to last week’s most anticipated blockbusters list to look even further into 2014. It’s also relevant because this year’s Sundance Film Festival just wrapped up, giving us a good preview of what is to come this year from independent movies.
[Please note: “independent” may not be the perfect way to describe these movies, but I think it does the job well enough]
Here they are (in alphabetical order):
The first film on the list is probably the lone movie that’ll actually get a full-fledged wide release. It’s also one of the only ones that has a date set already. Still, since The Raid was a surprise hit (and a limited release) in 2012, I still consider Berandal (or The Raid 2) to be a more indie-feeling movie. It’s full of names you don’t know (like Iko Uwais) – both in the cast and crew – but you should definitely watch the first one before checking this out.
I’ve already mentioned Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, so it seems natural that I’d look forward to Linklater’s next movie, Boyhood. Get this, though: Boyhood has been in production for 12 years! Yes, Linklater has been shooting the film intermittently for over a decade. It stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (True Romance) and is an all-encompassing look at growing up…hence the name.
Lenny Abrahamson’s comedy Frank just looks weird. And maybe that’s because the main character, Frank (Michael Fassbender), is wearing a papier mâché head the entire time. Oddly enough, this is pretty much the sole reason I included this movie. It helps that Fassbender’s name is in the mix, too.
One of the first movies to come to mind when I thought of this year, blockbuster or not, was Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. While I just said Frank seems weird, The Grand Budapest Hotel takes it to a whole new level. Through the various trailers, it’s easy to see Anderson’s usual dry humor is oozing through the movie. If that isn’t enough, take a look at the ensemble. Bill Murray, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, and Tilda Swinton are just a few of the names in the movie.
I talk a lot about my favorite directors. The obvious two that pop out are Christopher Nolan and David Fincher (both of whom have movies coming out this year). However, Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) is arguably even better. I will admit I forget about Anderson more than I should, but when I remember his filmography (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and The Master), I have trouble finding a low point in his career. He looks to continue his quest of brilliance with Inherent Vice – a movie that will star Joaquin Phoenix (Her) and Josh Brolin (Oldboy).
Lynn Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister) has made a career out of independent films. While she still has a ways to go until she reaches Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) and the aforementioned Wes Anderson, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow her the opportunity. Laggies, Shelton’s latest effort, is a dark comedy focused on a struggling 28-year-old (Keira Knightley) going through a mini mid-life crisis. Does this sound like Your Sister’s Sister a little bit? That’s alright with me!
I already mentioned Paul Thomas Anderson’s directing abilities are unlike most working today, but I think we should tact on Jeff Nichols’ name. Although Nichols has just three movies under his belt (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud), those three prove he’s more than just a director to watch. He’s the real deal. His latest movie, Midnight Special, is different because it has the backing of a major studio, but I am still considering the film that stars Adam Driver (HBO’s Girls), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) an indie.
Anton Corbijn’s (The American) A Most Wanted Man will give us our thriller fix on this list. Like some of the other movies, it definitely isn’t lacking starpower. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Bruhl, and Rachel McAdams are just a couple of the names that pop up throughout the movie. It’ll be interesting to see if it gains anymore steam before its release.
One of the most understated movies I’ve seen is Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip. Not only is it hilarious, but it actually has a little heart to go along with the laughs. You can only imagine the joy that filled me when I (recently) found out there was a sequel called The Trip to Italy in the works. It will again star Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan as exaggerated versions of themselves, and by the looks of the footage I’ve seen, it should be just as funny.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Sundance winner itself! Titled Whiplash, the film doesn’t sound amazing on paper (a drummer struggling to become the best jazz musician), but its resume speaks for itself. Once it took the top prize at Sundance, I figured I should become excited about Damien Chazelle’s (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) film that happens to star one of my favorite up-and-comers (Miles Teller). I’d keep tabs on this movie.
Are there any movies I missed? Sound off below in the comments section.
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