The Best Indie Movies You Might Have Missed

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
We all have that feeling once in a while — you realize there was a lot of pop culture you totally meant to experience but just didn't have time for. You were going to binge that show everyone was talking about. You didn't have a chance to scoot over to the city's only foreign language cinema. But it's not too late to catch up on all the best indie movies of recent years.
Our indie flick checklist will allow you to experience the full film festival experience, minus the IRL hipsters. Dramedies abound, the bread and butter of indie cinema. But there are also plenty of love stories and weepy dramas without a laugh in sight. Catching up on these lesser-known hits is a sure way to dominate your office Oscars pool, with inside knowledge of the dark-horse nominees.
Click through for your perfect indie watch list.
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Leave No Trace (2018)

In this thriller directed by Winter's Bone director Debra Granik, a father (Ben Foster) and daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) live deep within a Portland forest — until they can't, that is.
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Annihilation (2018)

Consider yourself grateful you're not forced to go on the mission past the Shimmer and into a ravenous, almost living landscape in this daring, women-led sci-fi movie.
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BlackKlansman (2018)

This Spike Lee tour de force is based on the improbable – but true — story of a Black police officer who infiltrates the KKK in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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Operator (2016)

A programmer (Martin Starr) realizes his wife (Mae Whitman), a hotel concierge, would be the perfect voice for an AI assistant that his company is designing. Then, he starts falling for her voice, over her.

Watch Operator on Netflix.
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The Shape of Water (2017)

The Shape of Water is racking up Oscars noms, so you should prepare for the Oscars by seeing this movie first. Guillermo Del Toro's imaginative, sweeping new film is about a deep relationship that develops between a mute cleaning woman and a fish-man, transported to a government lab from his home in the Amazon. Just go with it. You'll be happy you did.
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I, Tonya

The drama that occurred between U.S. figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding was played out over and over on the tabloids and nightly news in 1994. The story was revisited in 2018, this time giving voice to Harding's side of the story.
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Beach Rats (2017)

Eliza Hittman directs this movie about a teenager who's balancing a new relationship with a girl, the imminent death of his father, and all of the many, many men he's hooking up with.
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Landline (2017)

In this dramedy set in 1990s New York, two sisters (Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn) find out their father (John Tuturro) is cheating on their mother (Edie Falco).
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The Disaster Artist

In 2003, Tommy Wiseau made the best worst movie of all time, The Room. And in 2017, James Franco made a movie about the making of that movie.
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Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalemet star in a love story so searing and immediate you'll want to book your ticket to '80s-era Italy immediately.
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Mudbound (2017)

Mudbound begins when two men return to their homes in rural Alabama after serving overseas during WWII. Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) goes to his family of white farmers; Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) goes to his family, sharecroppers who work the land. Six characters narrate this sweeping story of race, family, and poverty in rural Alabama in the '40s.

Out November 17 on Netflix
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Lady Bird (2017)

Greta Gerwig directed what might be the best coming-of-age movie of all time. If you've ever been a mother or a daughter, then this movie about a girl in her last year of high school will speak to you.
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Risk (2017)

Four years ago, documentarian Laura Poitras studied Edward Snowden in her documentary Citizenfour. In 2017, she released Risk, a film that instead looks at Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
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Okja (2017)

This visually stunning movie about a 10-year-old girl (Seo-hyeon Ahn) going up against a massive meat company could persuade you into becoming a vegetarian. Mija has been a companion to Okja, a massive pig-like creature, for her entire life. When she finds out that he's set to become the (nutritious) prototype for a new product the Mirando Corporation is rolling out, she'll do anything to save him.
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The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)

You're not likely to forget this indie horror anytime soon. What begins as an atmospheric thriller about girls staying in a boarding school over winter break turns into a seriously disturbing, supernatural story. Even Sam and Dean Winchester of Supernatural would have trouble banishing the demons in this story.
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The Florida Project (2017)

Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives in a motel on the outskirts of Disney World with Hailey (Bria Vinaite), her young, struggling single mother. Summer vacation's just begun, and for Moonee, life stretches on like one long, wild adventure. She and the other motel kids spend time in unsupervised bliss, while her mother turns to more and more gritty means to keep their lives together. Sean Baker's film is an unforgettable portrait of childhood and America, lived on the outskirts.
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The Bad Batch (2016)
What happens when you go wandering in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland? You encounter a gang of well-dressed cannibals, headed by the Miami Man (Jason Momoa), and a desert oasis, headed by a blissed-out DJ (Keanu Reeves). Follow Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) as she tries to figure out what the heck is going on.
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Lemon (2017)

As director Janicza Bravo puts it, Isaac Lachmann is a loser. At the start of this aesthetically distinct, off-kilter comedy, Isaac's blind girlfriend of ten years leaves him, and his career takes a tumble. Things start off bad. And then they keep getting worse. Still, you'll enjoy the clear artistry of the whole endeavor, and the many surprising cameos.
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Home Again (2017)

After separating from her husband, Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) thinks the most adventure she'll have is moving back to L.A. and painting her bedroom pink. Then, she meets a dashing group of 20-something filmmakers — and invites them to stay for a while. She and Harry (Pico Alexander) can't deny the spark. Hallie Myers-Shyer, writer and director of Home Again, learned how to make a rom-com from her mother, the Nancy Myers.
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Lady Macbeth (2017)

Despite its title, this film isn't about a husband-wife duo with ruthless ambition, or even about a woman who cuts off her own hand. Lady Macbeth is about a woman in the year 1865 married to a much older man, who confines her to a strict schedule. She experiences a whole new range of emotions during her affair with a man of her own age.
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I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)

Psychological thrillers are best when they're set amid dim candles, creaky Victorian houses, and large, pouffy dresses. This Netflix original won't disappoint. All you know for sure about this movie is that Lily (Ruth Wilson) has moved into a house to aid a reclusive novelist, and that the house is haunted. The rest? The rest will blow your mind.

The story is told in a complicated, circular manner which will have you thinking for days.
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Frank (2014)

In which Michael Fassbender dons a strange, oversized head, and leads a rock band. Yeah, it's an indie.
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Good Time (2017)

This electrifying, intense drama will knock out any association you have of Robert Pattinson and Edward Cullen. From here on out, you'll remember Pattinson as Connie Nikas, a Queens man whose attempt to rob a bank goes awry when his mentally challenged brother and accomplice gets put in Rikers. He spends one wild evening trying to save Nicolas.
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The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

The incredible Jessica Williams plays the incredible Jessica James, an aspiring New York playwright who's reeling from a breakup. In the ensuing months, Jessica meets Boone (Chris O'Down), who's in the middle of a divorce. Two brokenhearted people reluctantly hanging out may be an unlikely recipe for love, and yet...
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Queen of Earth (2016)

In this psychological thriller, childhood friends Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) and Virginia (Catherine Waterston) realize just how fractured their relationship has become during one weekend at Virginia's lake house.
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A Ghost Story (2017)

In this sophisticated version of Ghost, a young woman's husband returns to haunt her after he dies in a car crash. What follows is part love story, part exploration of the nature of time itself.
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The Lovers (2017)

After years carrying on affairs with other people, a married couple decides to get a divorce at the urging of their lovers. On the cusp of their divorce, though, the couple finds themselves falling for each other again.
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Columbus (2017)

A young man finds himself stuck in the modernist architecture mecca that is Columbus, Indiana, after his architecture professor father falls into a coma while attending a lecture there. While there, the son (John Cho) bonds with another woman, who also fears losing her parent. Architecture becomes the avenue through which they can discuss their feelings.
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The Little Hours (2017)

Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie star as 14th-century nuns who desperately, desperately want something — anything! — interesting to happen. Adventure arrives in the form of Massetto (Dave Franco), a strapping young servant on the lamb from his boss (Nick Offerman). It's a hilarious romp.
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The Lost City of Z (2017)

In this movie based on a true story, a British explorer finds evidence of a long-lost, highly-advanced civilization in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Back home, people are skeptical that such a civilization could've existed so far from Europe (eye roll). An obsessed Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) reenters the Amazon with his family in tow to settle the argument once and for all.
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It Comes At Night (2017)

There's no horror movie like an indie horror movie. Trey Edward Shults' post-apocalyptic zombie movie will have you digging a shelter in your backyard.
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Maudie (2017)

Maudie is the true story of an arthritic housekeeper who went on to become one of Nova Scotia's most beloved folk artists. Sally Hawkins plays Maudie, and Ethan Hawke plays her employer — and eventual husband.
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Band Aid

Anna (Zoe Lister-Jone) and her husband, Ben (Adam Pally), should win an award for the most verbally vicious fights of all time. In an effort to save their marriage, Anna and Ben decide to set all their tired arguments to song. This comedy depicts something rarely shown in cinema: The hard work it takes for a couple to stay together, and stay happy.
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Morris From America

13-year-old Morris' father Curtis (Craig Robinson) gets a job as a soccer coach in a tiny town in Germany. The only Black kid in town, Morris struggles to acclimate to German life and customs. As Morris doggedly pursues a crush, Curtis questions how he can best make this move work. Morris From America is a refreshing twist on the father-son dynamic.
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Paint It Black

After a young man takes his life, his girlfriend (Alia Shawkat) and mother (Janet McTeer) blame the other for his suicide. The women become intertwined in their shared grief.

Out May 19.
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In this gory French movie, a young woman's coming-of-age involves discovering her hunger for human flesh. While critically acclaimed, theaters nonetheless handed out barf bags at screenings, just in case nausea overwhelmed critical sensibility.
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Casting JonBenét

The premise of this avant-garde documentary is simple. The filmmakers to be casting a recreation of the 1996 murder of the 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey, and instead, they interview the people audition for the roles of Patsy Ramsey, John Ramsey, and other figures associated with the crime. In this extended meditation on America's fascination with true crime, you'll learn more about psychology than any details about JonBenét. As 20 years of this obsession rages on, that's all we can ask, right?

Catch it on Netflix.
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Mudbound (2017)

After WWII, two brothers return home from the front to a small town in Mississippi, and struggle to acclimate to civilian life amidst racism and poverty.
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Tulip Fever (2017)

For a while there, Dutch society was completely taken by a tulip craze. Set in the 17th Century, amidst said tulip fever, Alicia Vikander plays a married noblewoman, Sophia Sandvoort, swept up in an affair with an artist. To escape her husband, Sophia switches places with the maid, and runs off with her lover to invest in the tulip trade.
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Personal Shopper (2017)

This genre-bending movie focuses on a young American woman working as a personal shopper for a celebrity in Paris. Soon, Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) makes contact with her twin brother, who died in Paris.
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The Discovery (2017)

Dr. Thomas Harbor proves the existence of the Afterlife, and changes the way people live and die. The Discovery is set two years after the announcement, and features a cast of glum characters coping in a world where suicides abound. Catch it on Netflix.
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I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017)

Ruth doesn't have much of a sense of purpose, until one day she finds her home has been burglarized. Determined to catch the perpetrator, she launches an investigation with her strange neighbor (Elijah Wood). Catch it on Netflix.
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Closet Monster

To deal with his feelings of teenage isolation, Oscar Madly retreats into a fantasy world of his own making. The movie features a talking pet hamster — what's there not to like?
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Green Room

A traveling band books a shady gig as a last-ditch resort. When they accidentally witness a violent act, the club's owner traps them backstage. Now the Ain't Rights have to face off with a club owner who will do anything to protect his shady ways.
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The Lobster

In this off-kilter dystopia, being single comes at a higher cost than not having plans on Valentine's Day. In The Lobster, people are expected to pair off with a monogamous partner by a certain age. If a person fails to achieve coupledom, like Colin Farrell's character, he's shipped off to a "single's resort" where people have a last-ditch chance for romance. What happens to the people who fail to find chemistry? They get turned into animals, and roam around forests surrounding cities and resorts.
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20th Century Woman
Set in the 1970s, this movie focuses on three California women experiencing love and change in California. Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning star in the A24 film, which was nominated for "Best Motion Picture" at the Golden Globes.
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King Cobra
Based on a true story, this look at a young star in the world of gay porn boasts some major '80s and '90s stars — James Franco, Alicia Silverstone, Molly Ringwald, and Christian Slater.
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This portrait of a woman returning to her family after battling addiction (possibly not so successfully) has earned its writer and its star, Trey Edward Shults and Krisha Fairchild, the LA Film Critics New Generation Award.
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Other People
Written by SNL staffer Chris Kelly, this film about a son returning home to help his mother as she battles cancer was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
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Everybody Wants Some!!
A kind of thematic follow-up to Dazed and Confused, this college comedy set in the '80s has all the tie-dye and weed of the classic high school film — with slightly shorter shorts.
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Naz & Maalik
This film focuses on two Muslim teenagers as they try to go about their lives and keep their romantic relationship a secret.
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American Honey
Shia LaBeouf's latest film about a magazine sales crew has been nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards.
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The Witch
If this year's Blair Witch Project reboot failed to terrify you, try The Witch, which is basically The Crucible with very real witchcraft that will haunt your dreams.
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The Fits
This unique coming of age story follows a girl as she joins a community dance team just as some of the members being to suffer from seizures. It has been nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature trophy.
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A Bigger Splash
Watch Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes deal with their angst as they lounge by the pool.
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Miles Ahead
Don Cheadle transforms into the famous jazz musician in this story of Davis' early, and much later career. Cheadle also directed the film.
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Before he was even known as Swift's summer BF, Tom Hiddleston starred in this dystopian drama about class warfare contained in a single apartment building.
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No Stranger Than Love
Just when you thought every strange and awkward follow up to the big "I love you," had been explored in film you get a movie that features the love-confessor falling into a sudden hole in his beloved's living room right after he says those three little words.
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The Little Prince
The classic children's book comes to life woven into a more familiar story of an overscheduled kid.
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Maggie's Plan
Reigning indie movie queen Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, a woman at the end of an affair who decides the kindest thing she could do for her about to be ex is reunite him with his estranged wife.
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Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart star in this dystopian film about a couple who dares to fall in love in a society that views emotions as a disease.
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Hello, My Name Is Doris
Watch Sally Field become the most endearing Brooklyn hipster ever.
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Before you see Jake Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals, check out his indie flick about a grieving husband tackling his emotions in an unorthodox way.
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The Meddler
This sweet story of a widow trying to connect with her adult daughter, and quite a few strangers, has an amazing cast, from Susan Sarandon to Cecily Strong.
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This drama tells the real-life story of Christine Chubbuck, a TV journalist who committed suicide on air. It's one of two films based on Chubbuck's death that came out this year.
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Ellen Page and Allison Janney star as two women connected by a child. But as that connection grows stronger, a destructive truth about that baby comes out.
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With a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this film is getting raves from virtually every critic.
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Sing Street
Fans of Camp and Pitch Perfect will love this adorable story of a teen who creates a band to get the girl, and ends up stumbling into something that makes him truly happy — and that could offer him a ticket out of his small town.
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Love & Friendship
Kate Beckinsale has already been nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for her performance in this witty adaptation of Jane Austen's Lady Susan.
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Witness 96 minutes of unbridled testosterone in this story of extreme frat hazing, starring Nick Jonas and featuring James Franco.
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The Intervention
The latest attempt at this generation's Big Chill was written and directed by Clea DuVall.
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Captain Fantastic
This film about a father raising his kids completely off the grid is a fascinating meditation on family and modern living.
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Don't Think Twice
On the surface, Don't Think Twice is a film about the NYC improv comedy scene and all it can lead to professionally. But even if you're not interested in improv, you'll be able to relate to the theme of the ever-moving start line of adulthood.
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The Family Fang
Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman star as siblings who grew up as a part of their parents' performance art pieces. As adults they want no part of their parents' art, but feel themselves dragged in when their mom and dad go missing.
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The Hollars
Watch Anna Kendrick and John Krasinski in this sweet family dramedy.
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