As exciting and impressive as big budgeted Hollywood movies can be, I find that those films are often lacking. With the film industry behind them, the goal of those types of movies is often limited to ‘wowing’ the audience with special effects rather than evoking an emotional response – which is why I tend to watch independent films. With a marginally smaller budget, ‘indies’ are usually driven by dialogue and emotion rather than fast paced action. With smaller scale stories, a more simplistic array of shots, and characters that seem grounded, these films are the true heart of Hollywood. The only problem with them, is they rarely see the light of day. While franchise movies are marketed to the point of no escape, indie’s usually get a silent and very limited release. So, unless you are a frequent in the festival circuit, I have constructed a list of the seven best indie films you’ve probably never heard of. You can thank me later.
7. Liberal Arts (2014)
Liberal Arts is the story of 35 year old Jesse Fisher (Josh Radner) and his inappropriate relationship with college sophomore Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen). After returning to his Alma Mater for his favorite professors retirement party, he finds himself in a confusing whirlwind of emotion, attraction, and nostalgia.
6. Copenhagen (2014)
In his late twenties, William (Gethin Anthony) sets off on a trip around Europe to find answers about his late father. Arriving in Copenhagen, he meets a young local woman named Effy (Frederikke Dahl Hansen) who agrees to help him to find his father’s father who, supposedly, is still living in town. As time passes, a natural chemistry and realistic connection develops between the two, which makes the twist in the story even more shocking and confusing.
5. Dirty Girl (2011)
Simultaneously hilarious and gut-wrenching, Dirty Girl is a hidden gem. After being paired up as husband and wife in sex-ed, Danielle (Juno Temple) and Clarke (Jeremy Doizer), who are from separate ends of the social totem pole, develop an unexpected, but very sweet friendship. The film centers around the two, with their ‘flour-baby’ in tow, as they set off on a cross-country adventure to find Danielle’s father.
4. One Day (2011)
One Day is the film adaption of the book by David Nicholls which tells the story of college friends Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dex (Jim Sturgess) as they work to navigate the real world. What is unique about this film is that it is told through a series of snapshots of one day, July 15th, over the course twenty years. The ups, downs, and suppression of their relationship seems so realistic and familiar that you may forget that it isn’t real life.
3. Like Crazy (2011)
Like Crazy is the single best representation of a long distance relationship made to date. After violating her student visa to stay with her American boyfriend Jacob (Anton Yelchin) for the summer, Anna (Felicity Jones) is banned from the US. The film then follows them over ten years as they attempt to live their lives both together and apart. Somehow, this film encompasses the complexities that come with a long term ‘LDR’ as the two fall apart and then come back together, both embracing change and rejecting it.
2. Short Term 12 (2013)
Grace (Brie Larson), along with her boyfriend Mason (John Gallager Jr), manages a foster care facility for at-risk teens. As Grace connects with one particular teen, more about her own background and story is revealed and you quickly realize the depth of her character. With realistic dialogue and steady cam style shots, this film sometimes seems more like a documentary than a narrative, which I think is why it is one of those movies that sticks with you long after the credits roll.
1. X + Y (2015)
I had never heard of this film before seeing it and had bought a ticket simply to escape the rain one afternoon. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be one of the most moving and incredible works I have ever seen. This story follows Nathan Ellis (Asa Butterfield), an outcast teenage math prodigy with autism, as he travels to Twain to compete in the mathematical Olympics. While the narrative of this story could easily fall into a trap of cliches, it somehow navigates around that to create a world of complicated and emotionally deep characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Seven Best Indie Films photo courtesy of: Brickhouse Films
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