I love making lists.
I don’t always finish them, or they change daily, but the indie movie list needs to be made.
Sure sometimes after a rough day it’s nice to sit down and watch a mindless formulaic piece of Hollywood corporate garbage, but for those who see film as art not just entertainment, there is a world of independent content created every year.
Some of it goes under the radar, but that makes finding it that much more exciting. Every time I find a new indie movie to love, I cherish it.
These movies take risks. They don’t just do what everyone is doing to keep up with trends or appease finicky audiences. These movies have something valuable to offer a wide-variety of audiences. I love them for different reasons, and yeah I’m in love with dark comedies so my tastes swing that way.
This is definitely not the long list. Not even close. I felt bad shaving it down to just 15, but that’s my fav number and probably more than any of you will watch anyway. So….
This movies is the oddest piece of moving poetry. It doesn’t rely on explosions, death, violence, adultery, or any of the usual Hollywood tension. It is just a sweet movie about a bus driver and his wife.
It’s a timeless story that offers life as it is, and somehow offers up stunning performances. It would be boring with any other actors. That and I never believed I could hate a dog, but Marvin is a canine villain made to give audiences a different view of pet ownership.
In direct contrast to Patterson, SLC Punk is about the 80s punk scene and full of all the sex, drugs, and violence a person can relate to.
What really makes this one a classic for me are the one liners. Never did I ever imagine shouting “Sink you fool!” at anything that floats but after these guys steal a car and try to dump it in a salt lake, I can’t help but giggle at the thought of floating cars. But it’s not just about stupid youth, it’s a true coming of age tale with consequences too.
They had me at the words: Horror Comedy. Throw in a flick about a zombie virus that only kids can contract and I’m ready to watch a school of crazy teachers fight off their pre-pubescent little students.
I really wish I had thought this one up. It’s just wrong and hilarious and worth all the wrong turns.
Run Lola Run
A bit older, Run Lola Run is a Groundhog Day nightmare. Instead of getting to do it right again and again like Bill Murray in his classic comedy, this is a race against time that just never ends. It’s weird and no other movie can match the Adrenalin rush it gives.
The pacing is nuts and so are the characters. That’s why it stands alone.
I stumbled upon this one browsing Netflix back when Netflix had amazing content. I didn’t know what to expect and found myself laughing at the culture clashes and insights presented by the simple story line of a man being sent to India to train the people who are taking over his job.
It turns into a surprise romantic comedy, which I don’t mind. But pushing that aside it holds a lot of relatable moments that give names and faces to the people on the other side of the phone.
Robert Eggers went nuts with this one. He filmed on ancient cameras and drew out some of the best and worst of humanity for this film. It’s dark, gritty, but doesn’t keep us from laughing at times.
A perfect piece of abstract work the lighting alone is worth every damn Oscar it wasn’t nominated for.
Woody Harrelson doesn’t make bad movies. He knows what he likes and he puts himself out there regardless of what everyone else thinks. Finding great scripts and good directors doesn’t help.
Wilson, is another one of those movies that regular people can look at and go, “Oh shit, I know how that feels.” It doesn’t rely on unrealistic fantasies or crazy elements to get its point across. It veers away from the “every white person is rich and has no problems myth” that this writer loves (being that I grew up in poverty and know just how much our society is divided by class, not always necessarily skin color).
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Give me Wes Anderson any day. All his movies fit his unique style, don’t play by commercial rules, and offer colorful settings that make my inner butterfly flit about. The story lines are weird but entrancing. The actors are well-known and superb.
Every time a new Wes Abnderson movie comes out I’m so glad that there are still people out there focusing on making art instead of just a buck.
The premise alone captured me. I couldn’t wait to see, Tsotsi, when it came out years ago. It features a car-jacker in South Africa who steals a car with a baby in the backseat.
We often hear of these nightmare scenarios and thankfully the children are usually recovered unharmed, but going inside to see how this criminal reacts and even bonds with the baby is so beautiful that there is nothing like it on earth. It’s an emotional ride from robbery to return.
I don’t care what anyone says, Michael Keaton will always be my Batman. The fact that he makes fun of that legacy in, Birdman, is hilariously insane. It’s a crazy movie about an actor after his popularity playing a superhero wanes.
From his career shift to his family life, this film is a piece of work that is so layered it’s like eating a cake with too much icing.
Art School Confidential
Aww hell. This movie takes on the absurdity of “popular art” verses actual skilled artwork that usually goes unnoticed due to fads and pop culture movements. Technique, talent, and hard work doesn’t always gain an artist the audience they deserve.
It’s a tough decision every creative has to make. Do you focus more on creating something beautiful that speaks from your heart, or appease the masses…
Is that… did Captain America go rouge? Chris Evans isn’t hiding behind the Marvel shield in this movie. He dives into the indie circuit ready to prove his acting chops. Hell yeah!
If you’re noticing a trend here, it’s apparent. I need good characterization and a real solid unique story line to truly love a film. Snow Piercer relies on some weird science for the set up, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about society and elitism. It’s about the world after us, but also before us, and who we are now. It’s dark and twisted, and some of the scenes are so far gone that you have to chuckle and appreciate that at least we haven’t become so poor that we have to cut off our damn arms to eat.
World’s Greatest Dad
I saw this right before Robin Williams died. His body of work holds so much meaning to me and many of us that I don’t even know how to convey the depth and range of acting he had to have for this single film.
His later work defined him as an artist.
Again, I knew nothing this film. I just saw Robin Williams and said, ‘Okay.” Holy shit. I laughed, I cried, I felt guilt and relief. This movie follows a man who’s son is a complete turd, but when that turd get’s flushed life is a ball of confusion. It’s brilliant and real and crazy and I’m so glad that I got to live in a time when Robin Williams was alive.
500 Days of Summer
Joseph Gordon-Levitt knows indie movies. After seeing him in, Brick, I was blown away. he was not longer the kid from, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and I appreciated it. 500 Days of Summer is part rom-com/part break-up movie and hit us all so well that it blew up to be way bigger than anyone expected.
It’s quirky, but also makes fun of that mopey self-pitying side of ourselves that rears it’s whiny head when getting dumped. (I’ve only been dumped once but it was a huge blow to the heart and I don’t wish it on anyone haha)
For any musician who wants to create art, for any creative who struggles with mental illness, for any person who just wants to wear a fake head…
Umm. Okay, this movie is kind of heard to explain but it’s about a guy who joins a band with a crazy lead singer who makes genius music. It’s funny, and weird, and dramatic. Being in a band is a polyamorous relationship. You have to work on your relationship as much as the sounds you create. The main character in this one, Jon, learns the hard way that fame and stardom just isn’t for some people while coming to understand that mental illness isn’t what society portrays it to be.