Independent or indie films are slowly trickling into the mainstream. Generally, these films are the ones which are made without a big production company or a studio and are often made at a comparatively lower budget. They usually feature lesser-known or debutant actors and thus often aren't the most commercially viable. Such movies are made to give the makers more freedom of their creation and have more creative control over it.
The pandemic gave us a chance to binge on every possible movie we had on our horizons, so much so that the search bar has some of our favourite titles on auto-complete, at this point. It’s only fair, considering how all of us have procrastinated every single assignment or task given to us in favour of watching our favourite shows.
However, when burnout takes over, you know you’ve got to watch more of those to keep you sane.
Don’t you worry though, we’ve got a collection of the top ten most underrated indie movies that will give you a chance to dive into a whole new world, and believe us when we say that they’ll have you glued to your seats and definitely hooked to your screens!
1. You can count on me (2000)
The perfect blend of comedy and drama, this movie directed by Kenneth Lonergan is sure to tug at your heartstrings with unadulterated compassion for the characters. The story revolves around Sammy, a single mother who’s raising her eight year old son in a small town. She doesn’t realise the emptiness that she lives with, trying to be completely content with her life. Things change when her brother Terry visits her, filling the void in her and her son’s life. But after some unforeseen events, she is conflicted between protecting her son and helping her brother.
2. Mary and Max (2009)
Animation has been a comfort for so many of us, bringing out the inner child that somewhere on the way got trapped as we grew up. ‘Mary and Max’ is a black-and-white animated movie that glorifies the beauty of sending letters in a world so absorbed in technology. The story revolves around an eight year old girl, Mary, who lives in Melbourne, and a 40 year old man with Aspergers who lives in New York City. They form an unlikely friendship over pen-palship. This movie, directed by Adam Elliot, is sure to make you go through each and every emotion so beautifully portrayed in it.
3. Blue Ruin (2013)
An avid crime and thriller enthusiast? Don’t worry, we’ve got you! This Jeremy Saulnier film revolves around Dwight Evans, whose parents were murdered ten years ago. When Evans finds out that the killer of his parents has been set free from the prison, he makes it his life mission to avenge his family’s death. Trouble ensues after he gets away with the murder only to then be caught in between the police and the killer's family. A nail-biting thriller that is sure to keep you at the edge till the very end.
4. First Cow (2019)
First Cow is a historical drama set in the Oregon Territory of the early 1800s that showcases the friendship between two chinese immigrants who set up a baking business using the milk stolen from a local cow. The Kelly Reichardt film shares the struggles of class, poverty and colonialism all combined beautifully as a majestic piece of work.
5. Hereditary (2018)
Halloween is sure over, but the thirst for a good horror flick is definitely not. The genre is often a parody of itself, where we often find ourselves laughing at the silliness of the characters? Well, not anymore. Directed by Ari Aster (of Midsommar fame), Hereditary is about a family whose past consists of dark supernatural secrets. When Annie’s mentally ill mother passes away, she, along with her children start experiencing strange and supernatural visions that somehow connect them to their family’s dark past. As the movie progresses further, a series of traumatic historical events and demonic ministrations are revealed.
Also, look under your bed besties!
6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
This heartfelt movie directed by Taika Waititi shows us the story of a couple in rural New Zealand, Bella and Hector who become foster parents for Ricky, a juvenile delinquent. Tragedy ensues when Bella passes away and the Child Services decide to send Ricky to an orphanage. Afraid of the sudden turn of events, Ricky runs away into the wild only to be followed by Hector who goes to look out for him. A powerful combination of comedy, drama and adventure that is ought to move you deeply.
7. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
This Jemaine Clement & Taika Watiti directed film revolves around three vampires who along with their typical vampire duties also have to deal with actual world issues like paying their rent (humans don’t take blood bags as payment, weirdly?), doing basic chores and resolving conflicts with each other. This mockumentary is sure to tickle your bones and leave you breathless with just how entertaining and hilarious this film is.
8. Miss Juneteenth (2020)
A single Black mother in Texas urges her daughter to join a local beauty pageant that she herself once won in hopes of winning the top prize: a full fledged college scholarship. Chaos and heartbreak arise when her daughter rebels against the idea of living her mother’s unfulfilled dreams. This Channing Godfrey Peoples movie that is bound to give you a full rollercoaster ride of mother-daughter bonding, drama, betrayal and love.
9. Fyre (2019)
For all the documentary fanatics out there, Fyre, directed by Chris Smith is a behind the scenes documentary about the Fyre Music Festival that was planned to take place in the Bahamas but supposedly never actually happened. The people who had paid a hefty amount for the concert were promised villa and luxurious food but all they got in return was an empty island with tents and a cancelled concert. The organiser, though, was later charged for scamming and fraud. This documentary takes you behind the scenes of the scandal. A story of betrayal, law enforcement struggles, and the dark side behind the entertainment industry.
10. Rocks (2019)
This heart wrenching movie by Sarah Gavron is about a teenager, Shola, who lives with her mother and brother in a public housing unit. Things go south when her mother abandons them both leaving Shola to take care of her brother that she juggles between school and endless responsibilities. What makes the story so beautiful is the sisterhood portrayed in the movie where her circle of friends do everything in their power to help her. Grab your tissues friends, because you’re in for an emotional ride!
And that's our list! While littered with recommendations to suit fans of every genre, this list is in no way exhaustive. However, it is a good starting point for your foray into indie films. Remember to support independent artists!