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16 indies to see before the summer blockbuster season

There are a lot of summer-style blockbusters out this winter and spring. But don't forget about the indies.

Knight of CupsRaceThe WitchDesiertoThe LobsterHello My Name is DorisMidnight SpecialI Saw the Lightmiles aheadDemolitionEverybody Wants Some

The summer movie season doesn't begin until first weekend of May, and yet we're still being bombarded with comic book movies and such through the winter and spring. Luckily there's still a new Terrence Malick movie, an indie horror, a crazy Miles Davis biopic, and even a movie where Colin Farrell may be turned into a lobster. Here's what's coming to your local art houses and VOD.

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‘Tumbledown’ (Feb. 5)
Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis have both been praised for this prickly indie, in which she plays a new widow pestered by Sudeikis’ New York writer, who thinks her husband died from mysterious circumstances. We’re also excited because Joe Manganiello — truly, verily an MVP for last year’s “Magic Mike XXL” — has a supporting role.

‘Race’ (Feb. 19)
Diversity and stories that are non-white have finally come to the forefront of cultural discussion — right in time for a Jesse Owens movie that makes sure one of its protagonists is a white character! Stephan James plays the legendary runner, who splits the focus with his trainer (Jason Sudeikis), who surely takes a lot of credit for the guy’s athletic prowess, right?From the director of "Predator 2"!

‘The Witch’ (Feb. 26)
We’re currently living in an indie horror renaissance, thanks to “The Babadook,” “It Follows” and more. Here’s another: People have been going nuts for this 17th century-set chiller, which sounds like “The Crucible” but with scares, since Sundance last year. Believe the hype?

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‘Knight of Cups’ (March 4)
Remember those 20 years when Terrence Malick made zero films? Now we have three, maybe four, maybe 30,000 in the pipeline. The first is this L.A.-based one about a sad screenwriter (Christian Bale), plus a seriously random supporting cast (Cate Blanchett! Antonio Banderas! Brian Dennehy! Nick Offerman! Ryan O’Neal!)

‘Desierto’ (March 4)
Slowly, quietly, the excessively talented Alfonso Cuaron’s pretty talented son Jonas has been eking out his own directing career. His breakout may be this border drama, which finds people trying to cross over from Mexico (including Gael Garcia Bernal) running afoul of one of those horrible “militia men,” led by the increasingly Powers Boothe-ish Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

‘The Lobster’ (March 11)
In a dystopian future, single people — including Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw — are consigned to a hotel, where they have two months to find a mate or they will be turned into an animal (of their choice, which is nice). The latest from Yorgos Lanthimos is not quite as brilliant as his “Dogtooth,” but you try to live up to something that good.

‘Hello, My Name is Doris’ (March 11)
Michael Showalter wrote this dramedy, which finds Sally Field romancing the young Max Greenfield. We’re enjoying the Fieldassaince (see also: “Lincoln”), especially since she’s become even more interesting with age.

RELATED: What's coming to Netflix in Feburary: Sex and "Fuller House"

‘Krisha’ (March 18)
The long takes in “The Revenant” have nothing on this tiny fest favorite. The camera prowls around a tense family reunion, where everyone would be getting along if it hadn’t been crashed by a self-destructive, argumentative relative (Krisha Fairchild).

‘Midnight Special’ (March 18)
All you should need to know is this is the latest from small-time legend Jeff Nichols, he of “Take Shelter” and “Mud.” But there's also this: It's a "Starman"-esque sci-fi road movie. Nichols’ sometime-regular Michael Shannon plays a man trying to protect his son, who has magical powers, from evil gub’mint forces. Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver co-star.

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‘Miracles from Heaven’ (March 18)
So, the thing about overtly religious films starring name actors is a trend now, huh? First there was “Heaven is for Real,” then there was “90 Minutes in Heaven,” now Jennifer Garner plays a mom who thinks her daughter’s unexplained comeback from a rare digestive disorder might involve the big guy up in the sky. Queen Latifah’s there, too.

‘I Saw the Light’ (March 25)
You might think “Walk Hard” would have destroyed the traditional, cheesy musical biopic. But no one saw “Walk Hard.” And so even an entry with no less than Tom Hiddleston (as Hank Williams) and no less than Elizabeth Olsen (as Audrey, his duet partner/manager/wife) reportedly stays close to eye-rolling tradition. Still: Hiddleston and Olsen!

‘Miles Ahead’ (April 1)
Rather than another tiresome career-spanning biopic, Miles Davis gets a certifiably crazy one, with Don Cheadle taking on the jazzman’s wild, wild-haired late ’70s pre-comeback period. There’s even a car chase.

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‘No Home Movie’ (April 1)
Chantal Akerman, the minimalist legend of “Jeanne Dielman,” committed suicide this fall, right as her latest was playing the New York Film Festival. It’s a great film, though it’s not an easy one: It consists of home movie footage, mostly of her mom in her last year, arranged in mysterious ways.

‘Demolition’ (April 8)
Jean-Marc Valee (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Wild”) takes on grief with this character study of a widower (Jake Gyllenhaal) who falls apart after the death of his wife.

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‘Louder Than Bombs’ (April 8)
We love us some Joachim Trier, the Danish filmmaker (and relative of Lars Von) who’s made a truly gutting film about being in one’s 20s (“Reprise”) and another, even more gutting film about being in one’s 30s (“Oslo, August 31”). He comes to America, as you do, showing a contentious family reunion with the likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Ryan, David Strathairn and Isabelle Huppert.

‘Everybody Wants Some’ (April 15)
A Richard Linklater comedy following the antic of a bunch of teens, mostly played by underknowns. What could go wrong? The last time he did this it was “Dazed and Confused,” and it bombed but grew a super cult, with just about every actor going onto some level of fame. More importantly, Linklater is a poet of youth, which is a fancy way of saying he’s genuinely young at heart and makes films that mask their depth and melancholy in breezy fun.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 

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