The best new independent films of 2018
Happy New Year and happy new blog post. Let’s begin 2018 with a list of independent, foreign language and documentary features scheduled for release this year and are deserving of your attention.
The Other Side of the Wind
After a crowdfunding campaign that came up short, one of Orson Welles’s many uncompleted features is about to see the light of day thanks to Netflix.
Telling the story of a filmmaker’s 70th birthday, and featuring a cast including John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Hopper, Mercedes McCambridge, Edmond O’Brien, Claude Chabrol, Lilli Palmer, Susan Strasberg, Cameron Mitchell, Norman Foster, Cameron Crowe, Natalie Wood, a place on your Netflix queue for this feature awaits.
Isle of Dogs
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Wes Anderson returns to the realm of animation for the first time in nine years, with a Japan-set story on an island inhabited by dogs.
With a cast including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton, Kara Hayward, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Bryan Cranston, Liev Schreiber, Yoko Ono, Courtney B. Vance, Ken Watanabe and Bob Balaban, this should be a good one.
It opens in Berlin in February; with an April UK release date to follow.
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
First there was Hunger, then there was an exploration of sex addiction in Shame and following that the big breakout with 12 Years a Slave. Now director Steve McQueen returns with a big screen adaptation of the 1980s ITV miniseries Widows, with Gone Girl scribe Gillian Flynn in tow.
Also at McQueen’s disposal is a cast including Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, Andre Holland, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Carrie Coon, Garrett Dillahunt, Jacki Weaver, Lukas Haas and Jon Bernthal. Should be a good one come its November bow.
After making a pig’s ear in mainstream cinema with Warcraft, director Duncan Jones returns to his independent roots with this semi-sequel to Moon, Mute (a homage to Blade Runner if you were to look at the stills).
Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Noel Clarke and Sam Rockwell star.
The House That Jack Built
Distributor: Curzon Artificial Eye
Lars von Trier is back directing Riley Keough, Uma Thurman, Matt Dillon and Bruno Ganz in a psychological thriller about a serial killer named Jack. Should arrive at Cannes this year.
Old Man and the Gun
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
After the spectacle of directing Casey Affleck in a bedsheet, David Lowery returns with the true story of criminal Forrest Tucker featuring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Keith Carradine and Tom Waits.
The Little Stranger
It’s been three years since he directed an Oscar winning performance from Brie Larson in Room, now director Lenny Abrahamson returns with another adaptation, this time of Sarah Waters’ titular 2009 gothic novel.
With a cast including Domhnall Gleeson (reuniting him and Abrahamson for the first time since Frank), Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling, keep a close eye on this one.
Continuing his pre-occupation with period drams, Mike Leigh is back with a dramatization of the 1819 Peterloo massacre, with a cast headlined by one-time Doctor Who frontrunner Rory Kinnear as Chartist politician Henry Hunt and female Hamlet Maxine Peake.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
After many decades spent trying to get this film off the ground, completed and otherwise, Terry Gilliam’s long-in-development passion project is finally on its way to us.
Many names came and went, but now Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Olga Kurylenko and Stellan Skarsgard are the final names in the cast. For more information, check out the documentary feature Lost in La Mancha.
If Beale Street Could Talk
I suppose the highlight of last year’s Oscar ceremony was the shock surprise the producers of La La Land received when it was revealed that the name of rival film Moonlight was in the envelope.
One year later and director Barry Jenkins returns with his follow-up to said feature, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel of a black couple fighting false accusations, with a cast including Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Dave Franco, Finn Wittrock and Diego Luna.
Actor Joel Edgerton really came into his own on the directing side with 2015 horror film The Gift. Now he’s back in the chair and co-starring in this conversion therapy drama, adapted from Garrard Conley’s memoir and featuring Manchester by the Sea’s Lucas Hedges in the lead role and supporting turns from Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Xavier Dolan. Also Jonny Greenwood’s scoring the film.
He tickled our funny bone with The Lobster and disturbed us with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, now Yorgos Lanthimos tries his hand at the period drama concerning the Masham family in the court of Queen Anne.
The cast includes Joe Alwyn, Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Nicholas Hoult and Rachel Weisz.
Where’d You Go Bernadette?
Richard Linklater is back with an adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel of a young girl searching for her mother. Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne star.
Robert Pattinson said he is choosing filmmakers who are daring and don’t bother to play by the mainstream Hollywood rules. And he seems to have done the same again, co-starring alongside Juliette Binoche in this sci-fi adventure from Claire Denis.
The best of the rest
Westwood – A documentary on Vivienne Westwood, set to bow at Sundance this month.
Roma – Alfonso Cuaron is back on our screens with a story of a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City. After the spectacle of Gravity, it seems Cuaron is returning to Y Tu Mama Tambien territory.
Everybody Knows – Iran’s most prominent filmmaker Asghar Farhadi ventures to South America for this thriller with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.
Radegund – Terrence Malick goes German for his latest cinematic venture, with Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, Bruno Ganz and August Diehl in tow.
Sunset – Laszlo Nemes follows up 2015’s Son of Saul with this tale of a young girl against the backdrop of WWI Budapest.
In Fabric – A ghost story with Gwendoline Christie, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies) and Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake), the latest from Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy director Peter Strickland.
A Private War – Documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, City of Ghosts) makes his narrative feature debut with a biopic of war correspondent Marie Colvin. Rosamund Pike stars in the main role.
Ash is Purest White – Zhangke Jia’s latest feature featuring sixteen years of violent love. That should go down well with the Chinese authorities (but at least it’s not about time travel).
E-Book – Olivier Assayas continues his fascination with the creative world with a comedy set in the Parisian publishing world.
Insects – Legendary Czech animator Jan Svankmajer could put in a last appearance with this Franz Kafka-influenced animated feature.
Blessed Virgin – A sexually explicit story concerning a nun. Then again, after Elle, what more could you expect from Paul Verhoeven?
Fleuve Noir – It’s been nine years since his last film, but Erick Zonca is back with an adaptation of Dror Mishani’s novel.
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan – Xavier Dolan makes his English-language debut with an all-star cast in a story revolving around the death of the titular TV actor.
Maya – The trials of a French war reporter captured in Syria, from writer/director Mia Hansen-Love. Will this be a satisfying follow-up to Things to Come?
The Sisters Brothers – After delivering such films as A Prophet, Rust and Bone and Dheepan, Jacques Audiard prepares to direct Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, Carol Kane, Riz Ahmed, John C. Reilly and Rutger Hauer in his English-language debut.
Transit – Plot is unknown, but it should be a good reunion between director Christian Petzold and the star of his 2014 release Phoenix, Paula Beer.
Vox Lux – Can former teen actor turned visionary filmmaker Brady Corbet follow up the success of Childhood of a Leader with this tale of a pop star, starring Jude Law and Stacy Martin?
Under the Silver Lake – Carried over from last year’s list, we have Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough and Topher Grace in a neo-noir story from It Follows helmsman David Robert Mitchell.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – Can this biopic of John Callahan bring an end to Gus Van Sant’s losing streak?
And of course, a few surprises along the way. Sundance, Cannes, SXSW, Toronto, Venice and London should provide ample material, I hope you have a pleasant viewing experience.
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