The Best Indie Movies


Yes, there is a time and a place for your Marvel movies, your Batmans, and your Top Guns, but sometimes you’re in the mood for something a little more simple. I don’t mean simple as a dig, btw. I mean, like… something that doesn’t feel like it was shot on a sound stage in Atlanta, Georgia, and exists in the real world, with real people at the center of it. (No shade to Marvel, obviously.) One way to get is by looking to indie movies, or movies that were produced outside of the major studio system. Consider this a curated list of indie movies you should start with. Bonus: They’ll make you look like the biggest cinephile of all your friends.

FYI, I focused mostly on the best indie movies of the last few years because doing best indie movies of all time would be… exhausting, and also, the newer movies are a bit easier to find on streaming services. Enjoy!

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This movie is the first feature film based on a viral Twitter thread, and it’s just as wild as you think it’s going to be. Two girls meet in a restaurant and embark on a “hoe trip” together, and things get unsurprisingly dicey.

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Have you ever gone to a funeral and run into your sugar daddy, his wife, and your ex girlfriend all at the same time? No? That’s the premise for this hilarious and way-too-real comedy.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal’s bold directorial debut follows two mothers whose lives collide during a week at the beach in Greece. If you’re into movies with “difficult” female characters, and by that I just mean human, this movie’s for you.

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In the wake of one very wild/intense moment at this year’s Oscars, it was easy to miss that this movie won Best Picture. It’s the story of a CODA (child of deaf adults) who decides to pursue singing as a hobby, much to the frustration of her parents.

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Jacob moves his family from California to Arkansas in an attempt to give them the life he’s always wanted, but the move was just the beginning of their struggles. This movie features the most adorable child acting performance, like, ever, with Alan S. Kim playing David.

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6

‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’

This movie is a punch to the gut, but in a good way. Teenager Autumn discovers she’s pregnant, and she has to go to insane lengths get the abortion she desperately needs.

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7

‘Promising Young Woman’

The string cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” set the mood for this movie, which follows a woman grieving her friend’s death, who takes it upon herself to get revenge on all the bad men in her town.

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What happens when life deals you an extremely bad hand and you’re trying to start over? Frances McDormand stars as Fern, a woman who decides to live out of a van following her husband’s death.

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A mom is trying to relive her glory days through her daughter, and she’s making that daughter resent her with every push. Nicole Beharie is so, so good in this movie.

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This is the first (and maybe only) good movie inspired by the #MeToo movement. Julia Garner plays an assistant to a Hollywood movie executive who treats her absolutely terribly, and she has to ask herself whether her “dream job” is really worth it.

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12

‘The Worst Person in the World’

This Norwegian film is about a late twenty-something woman who feels totally aimless, and when she makes a major life change to follow her heart, has to live with the repercussions of that choice.

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Awkwafina plays Billi, a woman going to visit her grandmother in China. But what her grandma doesn’t know is that she’s dying from cancer, and Billi’s struggling with the fact that they’re keeping it from her.

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Olivia Wilde’s first full feature is hilarious, and captures that “my life is about to change forever” bittersweet feeling that you get between high school and whatever you’re doing after that.

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Also known as the first, but not the last, Saoirse Ronan/Timothée Chalamet collab. Lady Bird is trying to be the opposite of her mother in every way, until she realizes that they’re exactly alike (relatable).

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This movie is a high-stakes look at class and wealth in South Korea, and the family at the center of it all will do anything to get what they deserve. The twist that comes halfway through will blow you away.

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17

‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’

Okay yes, this is another sad lesbian period piece, but the ending will blow you away. Marianne, a painter, is hired to complete a wedding portrait of Héloïse, but the feelings between them are too hard to ignore.

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Chris goes upstate with his girlfriend Rose to meet her (white) parents, and while at first they seem nice, more and more disturbing facts come to light as he’s there that make him question everything.

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This Barry Jenkins movie follows a young man name Chiron during three important phases of his life, as he navigates his sexuality and the family challenges that come with being who he really is.

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A love triangle between Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone? And one of them (Colman) is the Queen of England? Sign me TF up.

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If you want to cathartically relive every awkward moment of being a preteen, please watch this movie. A single dad is navigating raising his eight grade daughter, and she hates every second of it.

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22

‘Call Me by Your Name’

Elio is living a simple life with his family in Italy until a PhD student, Oliver, comes to live with them for the summer. Suddenly, he has feelings so big that they scare him, and the two have to figure it out together.

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Willem Dafoe plays a seemingly cold hotel manager trying to look after the daughter of one of the hotel’s residents in this touching film. Brooklynn Prince, as the daughter, is incredible.

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Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) moves to L.A. in the wake of her mother’s death, and she tries to find herself by befriending her favorite influencer (Elizabeth Olson). But the influencer starts to figure out that the friendship isn’t quite genuine. This movie is one of the best depictions of social media I’ve ever seen in pop culture.

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Joaquin Phoenix shows his post-Joker sensitive side in this film, where he suddenly has to take care of his nephew for a few weeks while his sister takes care of her own family stuff. It’s a heartwarming look about being a parental figure in someone’s life without being, you know, their parent.

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You know how The Worst Person in the World is a Norwegian movie about an aimless twenty-something? This is the American version, starring Greta Gerwig. If you’re like, “WTF am I supposed to do with my life?” this movie will make you feel seen.

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Bill Murray plays a washed up actor on a work trip to Tokyo who befriends Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte, who’s floundering while her husband is away with work. The two form an unlikely (and charming) friendship.

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