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Top 50 American Indie Films 2019

Annual Top Films Lists

Through the Looking Glass – the Top 50 American Indie Films of 2019: Picks #10 to #6

#10. Shane Carruth’s The Modern Ocean

Much to our surprise and delight, when it was announced that thesps Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tom Holland, Asa Butterfield, Jeff Goldblum and Abraham Attah were lining up to join Primer and Upstream Color (interview here) swiss army knife of a filmmaker third feature film, it confirmed what plenty of us folk already knew: Shane Carruth‘s is a genius….and a little bit of an enigma. Shrouded in is this even happening mystery since the news dropped in 2015, we know that Carruth has been keeping busy (he recently helped David Lowery on A Ghost Story) but there has been nothing but silence on this one. Described as a story that revolves around vengeance and the fierce competition for valuable shipping routes and priceless materials that converge in a spectacular battle on the rolling decks of behemoth cargo ships, The Modern Ocean is indeed conceptually large in scope. The gap between first and second film was close to a decade long, here’s hoping that this sails off in production this year.

#9. Kirsten Dunst’s The Bell Jar

Production was supposed to commence in early 2017, but with other roles and life commitments, Kirsten Dunst’s directorial debut has had to wait. With two shorts under her belt as a filmmaker, Dunst once had the likes of Patricia Arquette, Bel Powley, Stacy Martin, Dakota Fanning and Jesse Plemons ready to go for the film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Perhaps the project is put on hold, but we’re nonetheless itching to see this on the big screen.

#8. Dee Rees’ An Uncivil War

Dee Rees will be right back in the saddle once all the Mudbound glory is settled this month. Signed up for one of two “competing” Gloria Steinem projects in the works (the other being Julie Taymor’s My Life on the Road), this March she’ll work begin filming on An Uncivil War (Carey Mulligan will topline the pic around a feminist activist and journalist Steinem, lawyer and activist Florynce Kennedy, and others to ratify the ERA, while conservative organizer Phyllis Schlafly advocates against it. The ERA was written to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex, and although it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification, it fell short of enactment after receiving 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications.

#7. Safdie Bros.’ Uncut Gems

Before they hit critical paydirt with Good Time, the Safdies (and let’s not forget co-scribe in filmmaker Ronald Bronstein) were hard at work with an A24, Scorsese, Scott Rudin backed thriller with Jonah Hill playing the central character in a story set in New York City’s Diamond District. We’re hoping that this Antwerp-esque sounding Uncut gems doesn’t get leap-frogged by their 48 Hours remake.

#6. Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell

Hot off the presses post Sundance, it was announced that Elisabeth Moss and Alex Ross Perry are reteaming for an impressive third time. While a fall production start date still gives plenty of time for Jason Schwartzman to clear up his schedule, Her Smell sees Moss play Becky Something, a maniacally destructive punk rock star who pushes her relationships with bandmates, family and followers to the limit as she wages a years-long war against sobriety while attempting to re-engage the creativity that had once led her band to massive crossover success.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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