THE BEST OF 2014 INDIE FILMS
We are well into the new year but the year doesn’t officially start for me until I’m done with making lists about the last one. Like most years, I watched over a 100 indies (108 to be exact) in 2014, so here’s a comprehensive list of the indies I loved and liked and the ones that I really didn’t (I have omitted in the list the ones that are neither good nor bad – just unmemorable to even be talked about).
I have to say, after putting together my favourite indies of the year in this list, one thing struck me – EVERY film in the list is not only refreshingly original but also crazily innovative. From Birdman, which was shot like a continuous one-take, to Locke, which was completely shot in a car featuring a single actor, to Snowpiercer, which was shot in a moving bullet train, to Boyhood, which was shot over 12 years! This has been a fantastic year of cinematic originality and I think it’s an year that will stand out in this decade as one of the best years for film in a long, long time.
Ankhon Dekhi (comedy drama) – Because simplicity is underrated.
Birdman (comedy drama) – Because Michael Keaton’s comeback!!
Boyhood (drama) – Because RICHARD LINKLATER!!!!!!!!!!
Coherence (scifi) – Because how can a scifi indie made in no money be SO brilliant?
Comet (scifi romcom) – Because after ages a romantic film made me *feel* (also, scifi romcom!).
Filmistaan – Because the purity of friendship hasn’t been depicted so well in so long.
Frank (dramedy) – Because this is the most affecting dramedy I’ve seen in a long time and it stars Michael Fassbender in a giant head.
Locke (thriller) – Because 90 minutes of Tom Hardy in a car makes for a must watch!
Nightcrawler (thriller) – Because Jake Gyllenhaal is the f–king shit and this commentary on the state of media today has been robbed off awards glory (also Riz Ahmed!).
Pride (comedy drama) – Because the story of unlikely friendship between the LGBTs and the miners in 80s Brit is inspiring and heartwarming – and because *no one* does emotions like the Brits do (apart from Raju Hirani)!
Snowpierecer (thriller) – Because ‘a post apocalyptic thriller set on a train where the rich and poor are segregated’ is an AWESOME PLOT.
Sulemani Keeda (slacker comedy) – Because INDIAN SLACKER COMEDY WHAT MORE DO I NEED TO SAY?
The Fault in Our Stars (romance) – Because Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustader are my heroes and they can do no wrong.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) – Because Wes Anderson.
Whiplash (drama) – BECAUSE THIS IS THE BEST FILM I HAVE SEEN IN AGES.
A Most Wanted Man (spy thriller) – Because Philip Seymour Hoffman in a John Le Carre thriller is something we should have seen more of.
Bethlehem (war thriller) – Because its a gut wrenching take on the Israel-Palestine issue.
Blue Ruin (thriller) – Because this came out of the blue and thrilled the hell out of everyone!
Calvary (drama comedy) – Because there’s something about the collaboration between Brendan Gleeson and the McDonagh brothers that just makes sense.
Dear White People (dramedy) – Because it is the smartest take on the white – and black – culture, and a biting satire the likes of which we just don’t see often enough.
Enemy (scifi thriller) – Because a scifi thriller is another genre Jake Gyllenhaal NAILS.
Fading Gigolo (dramedy) – Because John Turturro has it in him to make a Woody Allen film.
Filth (Brit crime comedy drama) – Because James McAvoy on acid is even better than James McAvoy without it.
It’s a Disaster (comedy) – Because this is This is The End for adults.
Joe (drama) – Because this is Nicholas Cage’s redemption and you don’t even know it!
John Wick (action) – Because few things are cooler than seeing Keanu Reeves kick some ass.
Obvious Child (comedy) – Because Jenny Slate is da woman.
Ping Pong Summer (coming of age) – Because a coming of age comedy set in the ’80s featuring ping pong is rad.
Sunshine on Leith (comedy musical) – Because a Brit music comedy is the best genre of film you haven’t seen enough of.
The Inbetweeners 2 (comedy) – Because The Inbetweeners are f–king hilarious.
The Internet’s Own Boy — The Story of Aaron Swartz (documentary) – Because the story of Aaron Swartz is a story that must be seen.
The Guest (thriller) – Because Dan Stevens is SO great beyond Downton Abbey and this is indie thriller DONE RIGHT!
The Pretty Ones (romcom) – Because Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson have enough charisma to make the romcom genre feel refreshing.
The Square (documentary) – Because this documentary on the Egypt revolution was shot *during* the revolution.
Tusk (horror comedy) – Because this is the most bizarre, creepy and f–ed up film you’d watch in a while with a helluva brave performance by the awesome Justin Long)
A Birder’s Guide to Everything (coming of age) – Because if a coming of age film stars Ben Kingsley in any role, you are home before the movie begins.
A Walk Among The Tombstones (thriller) – Because Liam Neeson kicking ass in a different decade is just as cool as him kicking it in this one.
Adult World (coming of age dramedy) – Because even with the cast of John Cusack and Emma Roberts, the movie surprisingly made me chuckle quite a bit.
Begin Again (musical romcom) – Because Keira Knightley singing is what you need when you’re alone.
Blood Ties (crime drama) – Because this was a super well done throwback to the crime dramas of the ’70s with a stellar cast (and reminded me of Deewar in some ways)
Cold in July (crime thriller) – Because a throwback to pulpy 80s crime thrillers is never a bad thing, esp when it stars Dexter.
Felony (cop drama) – Because this Australian films gives a decent ethical twist to the age old cop drama movie.
Horns (Fantasy horror) – Because Daniel Radcliffe being Satan against his wishes makes for a *very* interesting movie.
Love is Strange (dramedy) – Because John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are easily the most heartwarming couple on screen in 2014.
Maps to the Stars (drama) – Bizarre f–ked up drama from David Cronenberg about the bizarre f–ked up world of Hollywood starring an A cast.
Predestination (scifi thriller) – Because ‘time-travel indie sci starring Ethan Hawke’ is the best one-line intro of the year.
Rosewater – Because even with its uneven screenplay, the Jon Stewart directed film works because of the tenacity of the great Gael Garnia Bernal.
Rover (thriller) – Because Australia makes some badass gritty films and with a cast feat. Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy, how much more badass do you need?
The Hundred Foot Journey – Because Om Puri and Meryl Streep facing off in a movie about food is just too tasty a plot.
The Giant Mechanical Man – Because is there anything Chris Messina can’t pull off?!
The One I Love (sci fi romcom) – Because another sci-fi romcom (whaaat!) that stars Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass!
The Purge: Anarchy (thriller) – Because this was the guilty pleasure of the year.
The Raid 2: Berendal (action) – Because the beauty of the brutal action was lost in the chaos of the been there done that story.
The Skeletal Twins (dramedy) – Because Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig make for the best suicidal brother-sister casting ever (but can dramedies have ANYTHING new to whine about than ‘life’?)
The Two Faces of January (thriller) – Because Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac star in this 50s’ thriller throwback and no one knows about this!?!
Wish I Was Here (dramedy) – Because Zach Braff directing his second dramedy makes for the most promising indie ever (but wish it had as much heart as it did quirk)
About Alex (dramedy) – Because it’s got such a brilliant cast that all the cliches that it put forth can ultimately be overlooked.
After the Dark (thriller) – Because even with a spectacular lack of plot, the premise of ethical dilemmas in a post apocalyptic world is quite interesting.
Bad Words (comedy) – Because after a hilarious first half, the movie spiraled down in the second else Jason Bateman would’ve been one of the indie debut directors of the year.
Chef (road trip comedy) – Because even though it was the most overrated indie of the year, it still had a fantastic cast that pulled off some fun moments.
Finding Fanny (road trip comedy)– Because even with its forced quirkiness, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Dimple Kapadia are a riot to watch.
Hello Ladies — The Movie (comedy)- Because it was a nice little bow on a sometimes-awkward TV series about loneliness in big cities.
Life After Beth (zombie romcom) – Because zombie romcom starring Aubrey Plaza as a zombie is SUCH a fun premise (if only the movie was *that* much fun)
Men, Women and Children (drama) – Because the internet is worse than flesh-eating zombieland and that’s fun to watch (but tell me something new yaar #TMSNY).
Rob The Mob (crime Drama) – Because even with its B-movie looks, it is not a bad take on the mob world.
Paolo Alto (drama) – Because high school in genereal is worse than flesh-eating zombieland and that’s fun to watch (but #TMSNY)
Premature (comedy) – Because groundhog day meets American Pie is not a bad idea at all.
Some Velvet Morning (drama) – Because Stanley Tucci is brilliant to watch even in a two-actor movie remake of a play.
The Drop (crime drama) – Because with a cast of Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace, we deserved more than a tired crime drama.
What If (romcom) – Because Zoe Kazan is charming and awesome and Daniel Radcliffe is not Harry Potter (but Adam Driver should have been lead! Also #TMSNY)
C & below
A Long Way Down – Because this is the worst executed Nick Hornby adaptation in the long time, even with SUCH a fab cast at its helm.
Homefront – Because Jason Statham saving himself/family/someone is older than the Bible now, so #TMSNY.
Someone Marry Barry – Because it flushes the comedic talents of a great cast down the drain with its abominable writing.
The Bachelor Weekend – Because Andrew Scott as a romantic one-sided lover on a bachelor trip is not a film you want to see.
This is Where I Leave You – TELL ME SOMETHING NEW YAAR (What a waste of a spectacular cast).
Two Night Stand – Because the dialogues are so painfully cliched that Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton (AND JESSICA SZOHR) should file a suit for wasting their time.
Veronica Mars – Because all that kickstarter money should’ve gone into writing at least an average plot.
P.S. Here are the indies I’m yet to see (and I’m looking forward to catching up on) and I’ll keep updating this list as and when I see them:
’71, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, A Most Violent Year, Appropriate Behaviour, Are You Here, Before I Go To Sleep, Bird People, Camp X Ray, Cold Comes the Night, Cuban Fury, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead, Force Majeure, Get On Up, God’s Pocket, Goodbye To All That, Growing up and Other Lies, Hector and the Search for Happiness, Hellion, Ida, I Origins, In Your Eyes, Infinitely Polar Bear, Inherent Vice, Kill Me Three Times, Laggies, Leviathan, Life of Crime, Life Itself, Listen Up Phillip, Love,Rosie, Magic in the Moonlight, Merry Christmas, Mommy, Night Moves, No Good Deed, Northern Soul, Omar, Only Lovers Left Alive, Plastic, Road to Paloma, Song One, Selma, St Vincent, Starred Up, Stretch, Take Care, That Burning Feeling, The Babadook, The Big Ask, The Captive, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, The Double, The Grant Seduction, The Homesman, The Humbling, The Immigrant, The Longest Week, The Mule, The November Man, The Riot Club, The Signal, To Be Takei, Top Five, Trip to Italy, The Voices, They Came Together, Third Person, Tracks, Ugly, Under the Skin, Vinyl, White Bird in a Blizzard, We Are The Best, Wetlands, What We Do In The Shadows, Wild, X/Y, Young Ones.
What are your favourite movies of the year? Agree/disagree with this list? Any movies I missed out on?
– Nikhil Taneja
Nikhil Taneja is a writer-producer, currently with Yash Raj Films (Films/Brands/Talent). He has previously worked with MTV Films, MTV and Hindustan Times. His weekends are dedicated to writing for magazines like Man’s World, Open and publications like the Sunday Guardian. Nikhil also takes journalism classes at Jai Hind college in Mumbai.
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