If you’re a fan of independent films, 2019 has a lot in store for you. Independent films are definitely getting more attention and credibility than ever before, especially with the success of studios like A24 with films like Hereditary, The Witch, and Moonlight. Although there are a ton of tantalizing titles in development—like Charlie Kaufman’s adaptation of I’m Thinking of Ending Things for Netflix—we’re just going to focus on movies that are in post-production or have release dates for our round-up of the top indie movies you should see in 2019. True to form, A24 has no less than three films on our must-watch list of 2019 indie flicks, but there are plenty of other worthy features coming out from other studios that you should be watching for, too. Check them all out below!
February 22 - All-Star Weekend
Actor Jamie Foxx (Ray, Django Unchained) makes his directorial debut with All-Star Weekend, an indie buddy comedy set to premiere February 22nd, 2019. The film follows two best friends and NBA superfans who travel from Indiana to Los Angeles to try and get into the NBA All-Star game. The friendship and rivalry between these two should be fun to watch play out, as one of them loves Lebron James while the other is Steph Curry’s biggest fan. Foxx also wrote and stars in the film, which has been a long-standing passion project of his; he’s been talking about it since 2012. Now All-Star Weekend is finally making it to the big screen, and joining Foxx is a star-studded cast including Robert Downey Jr., Ken Jeong, Gerard Butler, Benicio del Toro, Jessica Szohr and Eva Longoria.
March 22 - Where'd You Go, Bernadette
On March 22nd, iconic director Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) returns to the big screen with his latest dramedy effort, Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Based on the novel of the same name by Maria Semple and from a screenplay penned by Linklater and other collaborators, Where’d You Go, Bernadette follows the 15-year-old Bee (Emma Nelson) on her mission to track down her anxiety-afflicted mother Bernadette (Cate Blanchett) after she disappears suddenly. Blanchett and newcomer Nelson are joined by Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne, Troian Bellisario and James Urbaniak. As if that weren’t exciting enough, this may not be the only Linklater indie flick coming out in 2019; the Boyhood director has also been working on a 1969 moon landing film set in Houston and a biopic about legendary comedian Bill Hicks.
March 22 - The Beach Bum
While you’re checking out Where’d You Go, Bernadette, don’t forget to make time to see The Beach Bum, which also premieres on March 22nd. Directed and written by Harmony Korine (Gummo, Kids), the film is Korine’s sixth full-length feature and certainly the most high-profile when it comes to casting and marketing. There’s no doubt that the success of Korine’s Spring Breakers in 2012 has helped drive interest in The Beach Bum, which chronicles the hilarious stoner misadventures of the titular character “Moondog” (Matthew McConaughey) and an all-star ensemble cast including Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, Martin Lawrence, and Jimmy Buffett (yes, really). If the first official trailer is any indication, the return of Spring Breakers cinematographer Benoît Debie paired with the subversive humor of Korine will make The Beach Bum a neon-soaked vignette of hilarity that should top your must-watch list for 2019.
March 29 - Untitled Babak Anvari Thriller
This coming spring, British-Iranian director Babak Anvari (Under the Shadow) will premiere his first English-language feature, an unnamed horror-thriller project starring Armie Hammer (The Social Network) and filmed in New Orleans. Hammer is joined by Dakota Johnson and Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2) for the film, which follows affable bartender Will (Hammer), whose life begins to fall apart after he discovers a cell phone left in his bar following a brawl. According to some insider rumors, the movie will be titled The Translation of Wounds and is based on the novella The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud. There aren’t very many more details available yet about this untitled production from Annapurna Pictures, which is fast-tracking the movie for a March 29th release.
April 19 - Under the Silver Lake
On April 19th, director David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) and A24 Films join forces to bring audiences Under the Silver Lake, which promises to be a dazzling neo-noir gem starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, and Topher Grace. Fans of the It Follows soundtrack will also be pleased to hear that composer Disasterpeace is returning to score this film. Under the Silver Lake chronicles a surreal tale of mystery, love, scandal, and conspiracy after Sam (Garfield) turns amateur detective in order to track down his beautiful neighbor (Keough) after she disappears shortly after they meet. What he finds will take him much deeper than he planned for.
August - Ms. Purple
You may know him best as Eric Yorkie from the Twilight franchise, but actor Justin Chon proved he’s an accomplished filmmaker, too, when his 2017 feature film Gookearned high praise from critics and audiences alike at the Sundance Film Festival. In August 2019, Chon and indie film studio MACRO (Mudbound) partner to bring us Ms. Purple, which Chon describes as a “heartfelt story about an Asian American girl who reconnects with her estranged brother during the final days of her father's life.” According to the Kickstarter he created to finish the film (which easily reached its goal), Chon says he was inspired by his own relationship with his sister and family to explore the sibling dynamic and those deep connections with the additional challenge of exploring them from a female perspective through the eyes of lead character Kasie.
TBD - The Lighthouse
Director Robert Eggers (The Witch) and A24 plan to premiere their upcoming dark fantasy horror film The Lighthouse sometime in 2019. Written by Eggers with his brother Max, the plot details of The Lighthouse are still scanty, but we do know that the film will chronicle the life of an aging lighthouse keeper in Maine and will be set in 1890. In keeping with that early 20th-century era, and Eggers’ penchant for historical accuracy, the movie was shot entirely on black-and-white 35mm film. A24 is certainly pumped for the project, calling it “a totally unique and ambitious universe” in a “world of old sea-faring myths.” We’re guessing there probably will be some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff going on (or at least some cool flashbacks), as the cast is led by Willem Dafoe as “Old” and Robert Pattinson as “Young.”
TBD - Bad Hair (Justin Simien)
Director and writer Justin Simien (Dear White People) is set to debut his sophomore feature-length effort Bad Hair sometime in 2019. From the little that’s known about this satirical horror comedy, audiences should be looking forward to what might be the spiritual successor to Get Out. In an interview with IndieWire, Simien gave just the sketchiest of outlines about Bad Hair, explaining that his “cheeky” new film will be set in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and “follows a girl from Compton who doesn’t have the right look...she wants to be a VJ, and makes a bit of a Faustian bargain...and ends up with this hair, this weave in her head, that may or may not have a mind of its own.” A indie horror satire in the vein of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Stepford Wives,” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers?” Sign us up!
TBD - Her Smell
Director and writer Alex Ross Perry’s (Listen Up Philip, Golden Exits) latest effort is Her Smell, a drama chronicling the wild lifestyle and downward spiral of fictional ‘90s punk rocker riot grrrl Becky Something, portrayed by Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men). Once a rock superstar, Becky is forced to get sober and deal with the realities of middle age as she comes to grips with the loss of fame. Moss is joined by an ensemble cast including Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Agyness Deyn, Gayle Rankin, Ashley Benson, Dylan Gelula, Virginia Madsen and Amber Heard. The film premiered in late 2018 at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and in October 2018, it was announced that indie content studio Gunpowder & Sky had acquired the domestic distribution rights to Her Smell and is planning a theatrical release sometime in 2019 along with an awards season push for Moss.
TBD - Uncut Gems
Indie filmmakers the Safdie Brothers (Josh and Benny), known for their frequent collaborations on well-reviewed films like Daddy Longlegs (2009) and Good Time (2017), have teamed up again with the help of A24 for their latest effort, Uncut Gems. This American crime drama is adapted from a screenplay by the Safdies and stars Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, Judd Hirsch, Eric Bogosian, and Pom Klementieff. Set in Manhattan’s Diamond District, the plot will feature Sandler as a jewelry store owner with a gambling problem, whose infidelity to his wife (Menzel) and mounting debt have him skating on thin ice. While Sandler may seem an unlikely actor to take the lead in a drama like this, it will be refreshing to see him in something other than a direct-to-DVD lowbrow comedy. And with A24 behind the project and esteemed director Martin Scorsese and his collaborator Emma Tillinger Koskoff on board as executive producers, we’re confident that Uncut Gems may truly be the diamond in the rough of 2019.