(Photo : Millennium entertainment)
As the summer comes to an end, many independent films have resonated with audiences and critics and have slowly garnered Oscar momentum. Many of the films were surprise hits and surpassed box office expectations. Some even broke records for their respective distributors and directors. Latinos Post will conduct a three-part series of the top independent movies of the summers. Here is a retrospective of May and June independent films that could garner awards buzz in the months to come.
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The month of May saw the release of the Millennium entertainment movie "What Maisie Knew," a film about a little girl's struggle for grace in the midst of her parents' bitter custody battle. The film stars Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan and Joana Vanderham. Onata Aprile, who played the title character, received praise for her complex performance. The film scored rave reviews with the New York Observer stating, "Poignant and exemplary, this is one of the best films of 2013." It was also a box office hit and became Millennium's third highest grossing film of all time.
Award Potential: "What Maisie Knew" comes from a small distributor that has no Oscar history. Last year the company built a campaign around Nicole Kidman's performance in "The Paperboy" and scored Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations. If Millennium campaigns for "What Maisie Knew," the film could easily receive Independent Spirit Award nominations but could get lost in a crowded Oscar race. However, expect the film to receive critics' awards and young actress Aprile to receive many breakout awards.
Another May release that featured strong performances and garnered rave reviews was undoubtedly "What Richard Did." The film tells the story of Richard Karlsen, whose life changes after he destroys and shatters the lives of the people closest to him. The movie, which stars new "Transformers" star Jack Reynor, was called one of the most important Irish films of all time. It also received the top prize from the Academy in Ireland and was a huge festival film. While it did not do well in its theatrical run, Reynor's performance was a standout that resonated with critics and one that will most likely be remembered come awards season.
Awards Potential: Having crashed at the box office and with Tribeca films having a weak history at the Oscars, the film will most likely be ignored by all major awards organizations. However, Reynor could easily get an Independent Spirit Award nomination and potentially critics awards.
One of the most talked about films of the year was Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha." The movie tells the story of a New York woman (who doesn't really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she's not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles. The film received rave reviews with critics stating, "Audiences will need to tolerate a certain amount of narrative drift, but thanks to sensitive direction from Noah Baumbach and an endearing performance from Greta Gerwig, 'Frances Ha' makes it easy to forgive." Gerwig's performance has resonated with many awards pundits. Many prognosticators have stated that she is a sure lock for an Academy Award nomination. Baumbach has also received a lot of praise for his script and given his previous Oscar nomination for "The Squid and the Whale," his screenplay for "Frances Ha" is sure to get a lot of attention come awards season.
Awards Potential: IFC Films has previously led "In the Loop" to receive an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay and has also led many documentaries to Oscar nominations. However, it has failed to ever get a Best Picture nomination. While "Frances Ha" is poised to be a big hit come awards season, it is unlikely the film will capture the Best Picture nomination. Gerwig has tough competition for A-List actresses who could potentially overshadow her given their statuses in the business. Nonetheless, the film is sure to receive Independent Spirit Award nominations, critics awards and potentially a Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars.
"Before Midnight" was the best reviewed film of the year scoring a 98 percent aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film concluded the "Before" trilogy and has become one of the most buzzed about films of the year. When critics made their mid-year Best Films of the Year lists, the movie ranked at the top of most lists. When the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, it was immediately postulated as the first Oscar candidate of the year. While buzz has faded down after its release, Sony Classics is bound to campaign the film.
Awards Potential: The second part "Before Sunset" scored a nomination in 2004 for Best Screenplay. With strong reviews and Sony behind the film, "Before Midnight" is bound to get at least one Academy Award nomination. It is also destined to be a critic's darling and an Indie Spirit Award nominee.
Roadside Attractions released the Indie hit "Much ado About Nothing," which immediately became a hit with audiences. The film tells the story of two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words. Joss Whedon's modern day Shakespeare adaptation scored rave reviews with critics stating, "Lighthearted to a fault, Much Ado About Nothing's giddy energy and intimate charm make for an entertaining romantic comedy -- and a Shakespearean adaptation that's hard to resist." The film's buzz decreased after its release but with Whedon's appeal and its originality, the film is bound to receive awards attention towards the end of the year.
Awards Potential: Roadside Attractions has a busy slate this year and could easily leave "Much Ado About Nothing" to the side in order to promote "Mud" and "All is Lost." The film also lacks an A-List cast which could easily harm any potential acting nominations. However, if the distributor does campaign the film, a potential adapted screenplay nomination could occur.