The Best Indie Movies On Netflix To Watch Right Now


Summary

  • Indie movies offer unique, intimate storytelling and creative freedom, redefining cinema with authentic characters and raw emotions.
  • Platforms like Netflix are a gold mine for indie flicks, offering a diverse range of genres, from dramas to horror, for a special cinematic experience.
  • Each indie movie on this list, from psychological thrillers to heartwarming comedies, brings something special, showcasing the magic of cinema.



Since the genre first emerged, independent movies have come a long way. Directors who want more creative freedom and control over the narrative choose to work on projects that require a lower budget and tell unique, artistic, and unconventional stories in the process. In the past few decades, indie movies have redefined themselves and developed their own style and aesthetic. They feel more intimate and raw because of the authentic characters, touching dialogue, and thoughtful exploration of the human condition. The result is a cathartic cinematic experience like no other.

Even in today’s streaming age, platforms like Netflix have become a gold mine for indie movies. Their collection is ever-growing and inclusive of indie flicks that span all genres, from quirky comedies to psychological thrillers. In this list, we present the 15 best independent movies available to stream on Netflix. From heartfelt crowd-pleasers to underrated gems, these movies are the reason cinema is so special.



15 Melancholia (2011)

Visually stunning and conceptually boundary-pushing, Melancholia is perhaps Lars von Trier’s best sci-fi horror movie to date. It follows two sisters during and after the wedding of one of them. Set against the backdrop of their secluded mansion, the movie progresses when the news about a mysterious blue planet called Melancholia heading straight toward Earth surfaces. Strange occurrences happen and the wedding celebrations become tense, with Claire and Justine battling their fear, worry, and depression.


A Visually Stunning Portrait of Depression

Melancholia is lauded as the greatest film about mental illness (depression, in particular) ever made. The reason behind this is that the movie examines it through an entire worldview. Using hypnotic visuals and an apocalyptic setting, von Trier turns clinical depression into a hard-to-digest fact that we’re dealing with with both compassion and urgency. Along with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kirsten Dunst gives a powerful performance as a woman whose diagnosis consumes her even when the world is ending.

14 Frances Ha (2013)

Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (who also stars in the movie), Frances Ha is an indie comedy that pretty much anyone can relate to. It centers around an aspiring dancer named Frances Halladay. Being in her late 20s and living in New York City, she juggles the idea of romance and ambition quite clumsily. When her best friend and roommate Sophie moves out, Frances is left with her relentless pursuit of happiness – all while navigating the many troubles adult life brings.


Self-Discovery in your 20s

A delightful comedy starring Greta Gerwig and featuring outstanding supporting roles from Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, and Michael Zegen, Frances Ha is a movie that doesn’t try to be perfect, glossy, or adventurous. Whether it’s Gerwig’s floppy dialogue or the uncertainty of youth, there’s a messiness to every frame that makes the experience of growing up more realistic and universally relatable. Shot in black-and-white with a quirky indie pop score and odd humor, Frances Ha is a movie about learning to accept and love life as an imperfect journey.

13 Whiplash (2014)

Whiplash

Release Date
October 10, 2014

Runtime
105


The movie that put Damien Chazelle on the map as an exceptional director, Whiplash is a masterpiece of tension. The plot involves an ambitious music student and aspiring jazz drummer named Andrew who gets the opportunity to attend a prestigious music conservatory. His dream of joining the top studio band led by the legendary Terence Fletcher is first met by intense and unconventional practice sessions. Fletcher only seeks perfection from his musicians, and in order to achieve that, the conductor uses ruthless methods. Andrew, too, pushes himself to the limits to get closer to greatness.

A Cinematic Experience Like no Other

Whiplash offers an extraordinary cinematic experience. From the magnetic performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Supporting Role) to the masterfully crafted drumming sequences, the movie is a gripping ride from start to finish. Chazelle tries to bring the cutthroat world of competitive music and the obsession with perfection to life, and in doing so, he builds a nerve-wracking suspense most thrillers wish they could replicate. Haunting, loud, and delightful, Whiplash gets under your skin.


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12 Creep (2014)

Creep

Creep

Release Date
June 23, 2014

Runtime
82

In his directorial debut, Patrick Brice adapts a script co-written by himself and Mark Duplass to create a found footage horror with psychological elements. It follows struggling videographer Aaron, who answers an online ad by heading to a remote house to spend a day with his client and document his life. He learns that the client’s name is Josef, and he’s suffering from a brain tumor and often tends to behave erratically. As the day unfolds, however, more of Josef’s disturbing behavior comes to light. Aaron begins to question the nature of his assignments and fears that he might not make it out alive.


Makes Your Skin Crawl

Shot entirely from a first-person perspective with a hand-held camera, Creep is one of the most innovative and unsettling found footage horror movies of recent years. Brice and Duplass, who also star in the movie, use the setting of the desolate forest and unnerving conversations to build tension between the two characters. For any hardened fan, Creep is a brilliant and thrilling movie. But for a regular moviegoer, it can feel too intimate and sinister.

11 Blue Jay (2016)


Another Mark Duplass movie, this time on the romantic side of things, is Blue Jay. Here, Duplass and Sarah Paulson share palpable chemistry in this indie romantic comedy. Duplass plays Jim, a man who has returned to his small hometown following the death of his mother. After running into a former high school sweetheart, Amanda, at a supermarket, he decides to spend the afternoon with her, reminiscing about the time they once shared. With 20 years passed, their old feelings and new lives both allow and hinder them from embracing a second chance.

Nostalgic Tale About Old Love

In Alexandre Lehmann’s monochrome drama, nothing glorious or legendary ever happens. But perhaps it is in that melancholy and simplicity that the movie finds an extra sense of depth. Both Paulson and Duplass deliver heartrending performances, with the movie’s affective narrative about two people who simply cannot let go of what once was, testing their talents in a rueful way. Blue Jay is a character study more than anything else, and through conversations, it reminds you how some people can spark wonders within you by just being present.


10 Hush (2016)

Hush

Hush

Release Date
March 12, 2016

Runtime
87

Mike Flanagan may have become synonymous with universally acclaimed horror mini-series like Midnight Mass and The Haunting now, but the director has been testing the genre’s waters since long before. Hush is his slasher horror project. It is set in an isolated woodland home, where a successful writer named Maddie, who lost her ability to hear and speak at the age of 13, lives alone. One evening, a masked killer appears outside her window, determined to make Maddie his next victim.


A Well-Crafted Game of Cat and Mouse

Clearly, Hush is one of the best home invasion slashers of all time. The movie, with its minimal cast and enclosed setting, ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels from the first five minutes itself. The killer’s identity and motives are no mystery, nor is Maddie’s vulnerability and helplessness. But the astounding direction and progression by Flanagan prove that horror movies sometimes don’t need high body counts and piercing screams – just one victim facing their worst fears. Overall, the expertly crafted indie stays with you long after the credits roll.

9 Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)


Based on Barry Crump’s novel Wild Pork and Watercress, this charming indie tells the story of a little boy named Ricky Baker, who belongs to the New Zealand foster care system. After he’s taken in by a couple, Bella and Hector, Ricky ends up bonding with the former but stays defiant towards the latter. After Bella passes away, Ricky decides to run away, leaving Hector to chase after him. The two reluctant companions form an unlikely connection as they adventure across the rugged countryside.

Charming and Unpredictable

Before he became a recipient of an Academy Award and went on to direct outstanding Marvel movies, Taika Waititi was showing off his signature quirky skills in indie comedies. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is part family adventure, part coming-of-age drama that leaves its viewers delighted with its pure silliness and celebration of life. Sam Neill and Julian Dennison share a warm-hearted dynamic as the grumpy uncle and foster son, becoming mismatched heroes as they go. Moreover, the movie has some winsome and colorful locales that look like they were ripped right out of a storybook.


8 The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

The Fundamentals of Caring is a road-trip comedy-drama that revolves around Ben, whose depression has reached new lows. In hopes of finding purpose, he signs up for a six-week course to become a registered caregiver and eventually gets hired by Elsa to take care of her 18-year-old son with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It doesn’t take long for Ben to bond with Trevor, especially with Trevor understanding he’s coping with the loss of his son. They embark on a road trip across the country and make new friendships along the way.


A Surprising Feel-Good Road Trip Comedy

Starring Paul Rudd in his signature charming role and a revelatory Craig Roberts alongside supporting members Selena Gomez and Megan Ferguson, the movie is a sweet and emotional reminder that you’re never too old or physically incapable of experiencing joy, wonder, and human connection. While making the most of the subgenre through decent dialogue, warm humor, and a well-acted script, this Rob Burnett indie gem is more than worthy of a watch when you need a pick-me-up.

7 The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project

The Florida Project

Release Date
October 6, 2017

Cast
Brooklynn Prince , Christopher Rivera , Aiden Malik , Josie Olivo , Valeria Cotto , Edward Pagan

Runtime
111

By the time he came up with The Florida Project, Sean Baker had already established himself in the independent cinema landscape as an empathetic and brilliant director. With his sixth feature, he tells the story of six-year-old Moonee, who lives with her mother at a budget motel just blocks from Disneyland. With her two friends, she wanders about the rough and colorful neighborhood every day, playing pranks and stealing from tourists. However, her mother’s struggles may just destroy Moonee’s childhood and her unrelenting spirit.


Pastel-Tinged Letter to Childhood

A tender and scrappy love letter to childhood, summers, and the power of imagination, The Florida Project is a gem in every which way. On one end, Baker showcases “the happiest place on Earth” and on the other, its less picturesque corners and the lives of lost souls. The contrast not only provokes questions about modern America but also explores concealed truths like poverty and resilience. It also features a star-making performance from Brooklyn Price and a controlled and unforgettable turn from Willem Dafoe.

6 The Incredible Jessica James (2017)


The Incredible Jessica James offers a rather feminist spin on rom-coms by introducing us to a female lead who’s flawed, selfish, and sometimes clueless. After going through a bad breakup, Jessica James, a struggling NYC playwright finds herself back in the dating world. She meets Boone, an odd, romantically unavailable app developer who is also recovering from a past relationship. Despite having their interests elsewhere, the two develop a connection and hold steady in a world full of emotional baggage and risks.

Witty and Refreshing Rom-Com

Writer-director James C. Strouse delights viewers with a brand-new indie rom-com that could easily give certain blockbusters a run for their money. Set against the backdrop of a fast-paced, dating-obsessed jungle that is New York City, this quirky movie holds on to its wit, warmth, and achingly relatable understanding of modern relationships and getting over breakups. Jessica Williams gets the praise she deserves, and stars like Chris O’Dowd, Noël Wells, and Lakeith Stanfield offer their magnetic support in making the movie a hit.


5 Private Life (2018)

Private Life

Private Life

Release Date
October 5, 2018

Director
Tamara Jenkins

Runtime
123

Writers
Tamara Jenkins

A comedy-drama that’s never too hilarious or too dramatic but always careful of the themes it represents, Private Life centers around a forty-something married couple who are desperate to have a child but are struggling with fertility issues. As Richard and Rachel consider other options such as adoption and IVF, they reluctantly embark on one last attempt to have a family by reaching out to their 25-year-old niece, Sadie, who agrees to donate her egg to the couple.


Offers a Perceptive Look at Adulthood and Longing

Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, Private Life delves into the profound joys and psychological turmoil of growing old and wanting a child in a marriage. The naturalistic depictions of several processes as well as the messy family dynamics evoke emotions like hope, anger, grief, and acceptance. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn give absolutely terrific performances, bringing compassion and comedy to their roles. Overall, Jenkins’ movie is an exquisite indie comedy.

4 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

A Western anthology film written and directed by the legendary Coen Brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is simply a delight to watch. It is told in a series of six vignettes set in the American frontier. The titular chapter sees Tim Blake Nelson as a cheerful cowboy being silly as he murders outlaws and sings boisterous songs. Following chapters include a bank robber pushing his luck too far; a grizzled prospector digging for gold; and five people sharing an unsettling stagecoach ride.


Multiple Magical Tales of the American Frontier

Infused with their signature blend of absurdity and dark humor, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs transports its viewers to a slapstick, often folksy Old West. Every chapter cleverly subverts the genre and delivers a story that is refreshing, riveting, and simply gorgeous. Several shorts also muse on existential themes like death, greed, and money. Stars like James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, and more lend their talents. The cinematography and flawless execution, however, is what makes the anthology movie so haunting and irresistible.

3 I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)


I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a psychological thriller starring Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons. The premise goes something like this: a young woman who is already skeptical about her relationship with her boyfriend agrees to go on a trip with him to meet his parents on their secluded farm. Upon arriving at their farmhouse, she begins to question her reality further and faces odd misgivings. Throughout the movie, as more disturbing details unveil themselves, the movie cuts to footage that connects it all together.

A Psychodrama That Plays Out Like a Puzzle

Adapted from the novel of the same name written by Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a strange little thriller. Director Charlie Kaufman uses a sublime blend of atmospheric suspense and notes of existentialism to create an energy so disturbing that you simply want to lurch toward the climax. Buckley and Plemons are extraordinary in their respective roles, the snapshots of their expressions lurking long after the puzzle is solved.


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2 The Half of It (2020)

Another coming-of-age comedy, The Half of It centers around a shy and lonely straight-A Chinese-American teenager named Ellie who makes extra money by helping her classmates write their homework. When the sweet and popular jock Paul Munsky realizes he has feelings for a girl out of his league, he seeks Ellie’s help to write love letters in his name. Ellie refuses because she desires the girl too. But, eventually, Paul and Ellie become friends and begin to examine the nature of love itself.


Unconventional Teenage Comedy

The Half of It is written and directed by Alice Wu and it stars Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, and Alexxis Lemire in the main roles. Steering away from traditional and cliched high school rom-coms, this indie tries to embrace the complexities and messiness of growing up as a teenager. Wu’s screenplay is full of witty writing and wise lessons. The acting is effortless and moments of subtle emotion feel both refreshing and true-to-heart. Definitely underrated, The Half of It has nuanced storytelling and a delightful ending.

1 The Lost Daughter (2021)


In The Lost Daughter, Olivia Colman stars as Leda, a middle-aged university professor who is enjoying a seaside holiday in Greece. Her peaceful getaway is disrupted by the arrival of a family in a nearby villa. Leda soon finds herself fixated on a young mother and daughter. Unsettled by the young mother’s worries and frustrations, Leda’s own cryptic memories awaken, and she finds herself saddened and spiraling out of control.

Colman’s Outstanding Turn as a Complex Mother

Colman is known for disappearing into every role she plays. Her daring, ambiguous, and morally imperfect turn as Leda in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s feature directorial debut only further cements her status as one of the most vital female actors in the industry. The story is adapted from Elena Ferrante’s 2006 novel of the same name, and just like the source material, the movie balances its delicate moments of character interactions with the psychological drama. The supporting cast includes dazzling turns from Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Ed Harris, and Paul Mescal.



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