With two strikes bringing Hollywood to a halt and no sign of studio executives giving in, it’s hard to commit to a list of the most eagerly awaited indie movies of 2024. The closest we can get to a sure thing is some high-profile star vehicles pushed from 2023, hoping that the actors will able to promote their films next year. We have some completed films scheduled by distributors and studios that have already premiered at Film Festivals. There are more hints in the reports about projects granted an interim agreement by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (SAG-AFTRA), the union organization representing over 100 thousand film and TV professionals.
David Lowery is one of those directors who can gracefully switch gears from true-blu indie movies to studio-sponsored big productions. It's somewhat maddening to think the same guy who did "A Ghost Story" (2017) and "The Green Knight" (2021) also got roped in by Disney to do a remake of "Pete's Dragon" (2016). This year, he doubled down with "Peter Pan & Wendy" (2023), recruiting Jude Law to play Captain Hook. If he follows the one-for-them-one-for-me rule, it's time for "one for me," which means one for us! "Mother Mary" is currently in post-production. It's said to be a musical about the relationship between a pop star (Anne Hathaway) and a fashion designer (Michaela Coel). Hathaway may be a sturdy star, but the main draw here is Coel, getting her first substantial role after two critically lauded TV series, "Chewing Gum" (2015-2017) and "I May Destroy You" (2020) - yes, she was in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" (2022), but don't hold that against her. “Euphoria”’s Hunter Schafer also stars. No release date yet, but this sounds like a late-summer sleeper hit, right?
People need to get over their “Twilight” hate and recognize that Kristen Stewart is one of the best actresses of her generation - shout out to my friend Pedro! -. Every time she makes a film, it is your movie buff duty to check it out. Next in line is “Love Lies Bleeding”. British director Rose Glass broke through with the religion-infused horror of “Saint Maud” (2019). Plot details are scarce, but we gather enough leads to conclude it is a romantic drama set in the bodybuilding industry as a medium to explore the ruthlessness necessary to achieve the American dream. Or something! Don’t expect Stewart to strike poses in a bikini. Allegedly, she plays the lover of a female bodybuilder. The cast includes Ed Harris, Jenna Malone, Kathy O’Brien, and James Franco. The movie is coming from A24, so expect the cool quotient to be off the charts.
Joaquin Phoenix reunites with director Lynne Ramsay, seven years after the lauded “You Were Never Really Here” (2017), for a drama with religious overtones. How else can you describe a movie whose longline claims to be about a photographer who meets the devil in the Alaska wild at the end of the 19th Century? Ramsay revealed she had finished shooting during a Master Class at the Sarajevo Film Festival last August. Phoenix’s wife, Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara, also stars. There is no word on who plays which role, but it could work either way! No release date yet.
After finishing the Small Axe series of five films - it feels reductive to call it a TV series - Steve McQueen tries his hand at a documentary. “Occupied City” takes us back to the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Controversially, it invokes echoes of the effects of the pandemic shutdown. The movie premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. It will premiere in the US at the New York Film Festival, with a theatrical release to follow. If you crave a return to historical fiction from the director of “12 Years a Slave,” you’ll be happy to know he is working on the post-production of “Blitz.” The movie follows a group of Londoners struggling to survive as the Nazi Air Force bombs the British during WWII. The cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson, and Hayley Squires.
There is little information about John Crowley’s new movie. After his underwhelming literary adaptation of “The Goldfinch” (2019), we hope he can get back to the emotional highs of “Brooklyn” (2015). The warm-hearted immigrant story earned nominations for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. “We Live in Time” counts with Florence Pugh and Andrew Garfield in the leading roles. Details of the plot are tightly under wraps. We only know it is supposed to be a romance. Pugh and Garfield, in sweet, sweet love? Sign us in! She needs a respite after her tragic turn as the doomed communist Jean Tatlock in “Oppenheimer.”
Andrew Garfield & Florence Pugh
Zendaya, Mike Feist, and Josh O’Connor play tennis pros entangled in a love triangle with dire consequences for their emotions and careers. Luca Guadagnino’s romantic comedy was supposed to open the Venice Film Festival and premiere in the US this fall. Alas, distributor 20th Century Fox decided at the last possible moment to pull it and save it for 2024. Their main concern was that stars could not walk the red carpet nor do promotion for the film under the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. God forbid we challenge the wisdom of studio executives. Yet, I would venture that an actress at the top of her popularity like Zendaya can compensate with her mere existence for press junket interviews and a few photos in a new gown. Oh, well. Now set for release on April 24, 2024.
Eli Roth directs this long-awaited film adaptation of a first-person shooter cult video game. Cate Blanchet is the unlikely star, Lilith, an outlaw roped in to return to her planet, Pandora, to rescue the lost daughter of a universal warlord (Edgar Ramirez). She assembles the usual gang of outsiders and neer-do-wells, including Roland (Kevin Hart) and Claptrap, a robot voiced by Jack Black. Jamie Lee Curtis, Haley Bennet, and Cheyenne Jackson complete the cast. The movie has been in the making for a few years, including a round of late reshoots. Lionsgate set it out for a release date of August 9, hopping for a late summer hit.
The nightmarish separation of the Coen Brothers yielded two movies. Joel went off to do "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021) a stark black-and-white take on Shakespeare's meanest king, with Denzel Washington in the lead role. Ethan, God bless him, went in the opposite direction, doing an intentionally silly road comedy true to their indie movies' roots. Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan are lesbian friends who inadvertently take a rental car loaded with a mysterious suitcase belonging to a cadre of unsavory characters. Wackiness ensues. The magnificent cast includes Pedro Pascal, Bean Feldstein, Matt Damon, Colman Domingo, and Bill Camp. Now, which one of these two movies feels like a Coen Brothers movie? I know. The late 2023 summer release date was delayed until February 23. It can't come soon enough!
Danish director Christian Tafdrup served one of the nastiest surprises of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival with this slow-boiling horror drama about a family entering a nightmare with a couple they meet on vacation. Think “Funny Games” (1997), but with the victims visiting the psychos. The movie never got the American release, as suggested by its enthusiastic critical reaction, so this remake directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake) is stealing its thunder. The cast includes Mackenzie David, James McAvoy, and Scoot McNairy. If the new version sticks close to the spirit of the original, expect to be very, very disturbed. A release date of August 9, 2024, makes it the prospective feel-bad sleeper hit of the summer.
Ti West lucked himself into a franchise of modern classic horror films with “X” (2022). The horror film about a crew of porn filmmakers falling into a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” situation turned into a cult hit. It finally turned Mia Goth into a bonafide star years after toiling in indie films on both sides of the Atlantic. She starred in the prequel “Pearl” (2022) and is now the protagonist in a sequel that follows her character as she pursues her Hollywood dreams. With the action happening in 1985, expect New Wave makeup, parachute pants, towering Aqua-Net hairdos, and big shoulder pads. We said it was a horror movie, right? No official release date yet. Wishful thinking points to an early 2024 date.
A documentary on the fabled recording studio in Van Nuys, California, tells the story of real rock n'roll history and celebrates the human element of music.Stream Now
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