20 Indie Films to See This Fall
With autumn comes a new array of movies to see in theaters. In addition to the many big titles premiering this season, there are also plenty of upcoming independent films to choose from. Here are 20 indie films to check out this fall.
The Skeleton Twins
Former SNL co-stars Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader star in this movie about a pair of depressed twins, Maggie and Milo, who are forced to reunite after a decade of estrangement due to extreme circumstances. Maggie is struggling to stay on the same page with her husband Lance (Luke Wilson), who desperately wants kids. Meanwhile, Milo is a gay man struggling with depression due to his nonexistent acting career and the aftermath of a tumultuous relationship with a former lover (Ty Burrell). The movie is in theaters now.
John Curran’s latest film received glowing responses at Telluride last year, as well as at the Toronto International Film Festival. Mia Wasikowska stars in the real-life story of Robyn Davidson, a woman who battles wilderness and isolation in order to travel 1,677 miles across the Australian desert in 1975 with only her dog and four camels by her side. The movie also stars Adam Driver of Girls as Rick Smolan, a photographer who joins Davidson on a part of her journey. You can catch it in theaters now.
The Two Faces of January
Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst play a glamorous 1960s American couple who arrive in Athens by boat and end up meeting Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a Greek-speaking American who is working as a tour guide and scamming tourists on the side. But soon, the three become embroiled in a series of sinister events that takes them from Greece to Turkey and, eventually, to a dramatic finale that occurs in the back alleys of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. The movie is schedule to hit theaters on September 26.
One of the best-received films out of both the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes, Whiplash tells the story of a young aspiring musician who attends one of the top music schools only to find himself clashing with an instructor there. The drama film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and both of its stars, Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, have earned rave reviews for their performances. The title, which also features Melissa Benoist and Paul Reise, is set to hit theaters on October 10.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (originally entitled Them) is actually the combination of two films, Him and Her, both directed by Ned Benson and starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. The two movies follow the same time period in the lives of Connor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby, a young married couple living in New York. However, each are told from different perspectives, with Him following the relationship from Connor’s angle and Her following Eleanor’s. The Disappearance is a condensed version of both stories and will open in theaters on September 12. Meanwhile, the full version will hit limited theaters on October 10.
Kill the Messenger
The upcoming American drama-thriller film is based on the book of the same name by Nick Schou. Jeremy Renner stars in the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, who exposes the CIA’s role in importing cocaine into the U.S. and sending arms to Nicaragua. His exposure of the story makes him the target of a slanderous campaign that drives him almost the point of suicide. Directed by Michael Cuesta, the movie also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michael Sheen. It will be released on October 10.
Michael Keaton is back on the big screen, playing a washed-up actor who was once famous for playing a superhero. The upcoming drama has already garnered attention, partly because of the meta quality of the film’s plot line (Keaton himself once played a superhero before having a notable career absence). The movie, co-written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris, premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in August and is already spurring award season buzz thanks to Keaton’s standout performance. The movie will hit theaters on October 17.
Kristen Stewart leaves her vampire days behind in this independent drama, in which she plays Pvt. Amy Cole. Cole is a young woman who joins the military in order to get away from her small town and be part of something bigger. She ends up getting stationed at Guantanamo Bay, where she must deal with aggressive and sometimes hostile squadmates, and eventually begins an unlikely friendship with one of the detainees. The movie, which also features Peyman Mooaadi, Lane Garrison, and Joseph Julian Soria, will premiere on October 17.
Dear White People
The provocative satire centers on a biracial resident adviser and campus DJ named Samantha and three other black students who are trying to navigate life while being one of the few African-American attendees at the prestigious but mostly white Ivy League college Winchester University. A riot breaks out when an African-American-themed party is thrown by white students. The movie, starring Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Teyonah Parris, and Kyle Gallner, won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. The movie is set for release on October 17.
Bill Murray stars as the title character, a grumpy war veteran who offers to babysit his next-door neighbor, an adopted 12-year-old boy named Oliver, in order to earn cash and pay off his huge stack of bills. But he’s not exactly a model baby sitter — Murray ends up introducing Oliver to his lifestyle of drinking, smoking, gambling, and even a relationship with a Russian prostitute. Melissa McCarthy stars in the film as Oliver’s mother. Murray is already getting rave reviews for his performance. The movie will hit theaters on October 24.
The film examines the relationship between Amy-Jo (Elle Fanning) and her father, Joe (John Hawkes), who suffers from a crippling heroin addiction and is also torn between devotion to his teen daughter and his dreams of becoming a musician. The movie is set in Hollywood in the 1970s and follows both characters as they strive to live the lives they dream of, even against all odds. The flick is scheduled for release on October 24.
White Bird in a Blizzard
The latest work from director Gregg Arakasi has already garnered lots of buzz, largely because of Shailene Woodley’s more adult turn. Though Woodley plays a teenager, the material is much darker than her previous coming-of-age films. She plays an adolescent who is just discovering her sexual identity when her unstable mother (played by Eva Green) suddenly goes missing. As she struggles to cope with the disappearance, she also ends up getting involved with the detective investigating the case. The movie will be released on October 24.
Kiera Knightley chronicles the story of Megan, a 28-year-old woman who can’t seem to let go of her childhood and feels overwhelmed by the need to make the typical decisions associated with adulthood (like accepting her boyfriend’s proposal). Instead, she chooses to hold on to her youth by spending time with a teenager (played by Chloe Grace Mortez), drinking and acting like an adolescent. The movie is the first from director Lynn Shelton that she hasn’t written herself. It previously premiered at Sundance and will hit theaters on October 24.
Jake Gyllenhaal dropped a lot of weight and underwent a serious transformation in order to play Lou Bloom, a driven young man who is desperate for work and ends up discovering the underground world of freelance crime journalists in contemporary Los Angeles. The crime-thriller was screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it earned positive initial reviews. The movie also stars Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, and Ann Cusack. It is scheduled to be released on October 31.
Daniel Radcliffe is returning to the world of fantasy films, but this time with a much darker twist. The creepy flick is based on Joe Hill’s international bestselling novel of the same name and stars Radcliffe as Ig Perrish, a 26-year-old man believed to be the top suspect in the violent rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). A year after Merrin’s death, Ig wakes up from a night of hard drinking to find that he’s sprouted a set of horns that give him the power to drive people to confess their deepest sins. Directed by Alejandre Ala, the chilling movie is appropriately scheduled to hit theaters on Halloween.
The Theory of Everything
Inspired by the memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the film follows the story of Jane and Stephen Hawking as they try to sustain their marriage among the latter’s debilitating health diagnosis and simultaneous growing success in physics. The movie stars Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones as Jane, the literature student he falls in love with while studying at Cambridge during the 1960s. Redmayne’s performance is getting rave reviews and spurring potential Oscar discussion, and the movie is considered to be an award season contender. It hits theaters on November 7.
Foxcatcher is based on the true story of John du Pont (Steve Carell), an eccentric million with a passion for amateur sports, who develops a training center, aiming to help prepare wrestlers for the U.S. Olympic Team. But trouble comes about when du Pont’s friend Dave Shultz (Mark Ruffalo) and his younger brother Mark (Channing Tatum) decide to join the center in an effort to train for another Olympic bid. As he works with them, du Pont’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, and the relationship between the three men takes a dark and violent turn. The movie has already spurred Oscar buzz for Carell. It’s set to hit theaters on November 14.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this movie about British mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing, who worked to help decode German messages during World War II and was eventually chemically castrated for being gay despite being a great war hero. The World War II-era biopic The Imitation Game won the Toronto Film Festival’s top prize, as well as the People’s Choice Award. It has since spurred all kinds of Oscar buzz, both for Cumberbatch and for the film overall. The movie will hit theaters on November 21.
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who helmed the Oscar-winning AIDS flick Dallas Buyers Club, Wild follows Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, a recovering addict from Oregon who sets out on an ambitious and often treacherous trek at the age of 26 after the death of her beloved mother and a failed, disappointing marriage. During her journey, she braves rough lands and even rougher weather, encountering wild animals and facing one life threatening situation after the next — all while also taking in gorgeous, one-of-a-kind views and wondering what the world she got into. The film is adapted from Strayed’s bestselling 2012 memoir of the same name. It’s due in theaters on December 5.
The upcoming biographical film marks a departure from the usual style of director Tim Burton. The drama focuses on Margaret Keane, a hugely successful artist in the ’50s and the legal difficulties she later faces with her husband, Walter Keane, who ends up fraudulently taking credit for painting the kitsch paintings in the ’60s. Christopher Waltz is set to star as the former, while Margaret will be portrayed by Amy Adams. Krysten Ritter and Jason Schwartz also co-star in the flick. The movie will hit theaters on Christmas Day.