the indie films to look forward to in 2019
The director of ‘Hereditary’ is back with another horror set to ruin your summer.
If you haven’t seen Hereditary or Isle of Dogs -- or any other great movies from 2018 -- I won’t lie to you. Your “movies to watch” list just got a little longer. As you guessed by the headline, this is not about those films in your rear-view mirror. It’s about the indie gems sparkling on the horizon. And there are plenty. So you might as well put off those outdoor activity “resolutions” you were never going to keep anyway. Better to stay on top of the never-ending list of Movies That You Absolutely 100% Must Check Out. Bookmark, screenshot, do what you’ve gotta do.
The Kindergarten Teacher (8 February)
Maggie Gyllenhaal is the kindergarten teacher obsessed with one of her students. “I think we have a young Mozart,” she says, marvelling at the little prodigious poet in her class. The boy’s father just wants him to have a “normal life”. She wants to push the kid further. Is she kind, creepy, or both? The film raises questions about how we nurture -- and stifle -- great minds at a young age. Whatever her motives, Maggie’s got one thing right: “If you stay curious, then you can see the world however you want.”
Minding the Gap (22 March)
This doc zooms in on the lives of skaters transitioning into adulthood. As one teen succinctly puts it: “We have to fully grow up and it’s gonna suck.” Bing Liu’s film reflects on that cusp-of-adulthood anxiety as well as the question: What happens to friendships rooted in skating when an uncertain future comes knocking? Nearing their 20s, the skaters are figuring out who they are and who they want to be. With all that anxiety about the future, the simple act of pushing down a street makes all their responsibilities fade away. No wonder skating is the addiction they’d rather not quit.
Lords of Chaos (29 March)
“Based on truth and lies”, as its title card announces, Jonas Åkerlund’s gore-fest parachutes you into the notorious story of Norwegian Black Metal’s most twisted artists. Namely the members of Mayhem who, in early 90s Oslo, got caught up in a series of church burnings and murders. The film is in English and stars Rory Culkin and Sky Ferreira, but the director himself was in Swedish black metal band Bathory so knows a thing or two about it. Cue ear-bleeding black metal.
Mid90s (12 April)
Finally beaming into UK screens this April is Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, which is sort of a trip down memory lane for the actor whose roots are in skate culture. Set in 90s LA, it focuses on troubled teen Stevie, who befriends a bunch of older skaters at a local skate shop. Hill captures Stevie’s clumsy leap into adolescence, as he dodges security guards and an abusive older brother. What stands out is Hill’s insane attention to detail. The clothes: Shortys tees and baggy denim. The music: The Pharcyde, Bad Brains, the GZA. And, of course, the cameos: Everyone from Harmony Korine to Chad Muska.
Her Smell (29 March in US, TBC in UK)
Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss plays a 90s punk whose best years are behind her. Now she’s struggling with sobriety, motherhood and anxious record execs. Moss looks magnetic in the lead, all smeary mascara and knotted peroxide hair. She clearly went in on her self-destructive singer -- a throwback to punk’s loose canons of yore. And perhaps Courtney Love too? Her Smell reunites indie director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) and Moss, while looping in model-actors Cara Delevingne and Agyness Deyn.
Ari Aster is the guy responsible for your worst nightmares last year. The Hereditary director returns with Midsommar, another horror with a pinch of paganism. Florence Pugh and Will Poulter star in the movie about a couple who head to Sweden for a very rural, very hippy mid-summer festival in their friend’s hometown. From the sounds of it, things go a little Wicker Man soon after. If Hereditary is anything to go by, you can expect another whip-smart horror to leave you shook.
Pain & Glory (TBC)
¡Almodóvar! ¡Penelope Cruz! ¡Viva España! That’s right, Spain’s hottest director-actor duo is back this year, and they’ve brought with them Antonio Banderas and 2018 pop sensation Rosalia. Shot in Valencia, the film is a psychodrama about a filmmaker, based on you can probably guess who. Banderas, playing the director’s alter ego, reflects on his past and present, with Almodóvar seemingly staring deeply into a mirror. This might just be his magnum opus. Fingers crossed.
This is Leos Carax’s first movie since the critically adored Holy Motors six years ago. Will this English-language film starring Adam Driver and Michelle Williams be just as wild? It’s hard to tell. It’s about a stand-up comedian dealing with the death of his opera singer wife. He lives with his two-year-old daughter who has a “surprising gift”. Colour me curious.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.