5 Essential Indies on Netflix Movie Buffs Need to See

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Tribeca Film

We all know the blockbuster films of the year. Trailers bombard us daily and nightly, but what about those low-key films that don't get the attention of the Guardians of the Galaxies and Mockingjays of the film universe? 

The independent film movement gets stronger, bigger, and more diverse every year. Huge actors often look outside Hollywood for quality roles that actually allow them to act, and not just hit marks in front of a green screen. And that's not to say indie films are better than the studio ones, they're just different. 

So with all that in mind, we've scoured the Browse Menu on Netflix's website in search of some of the best, lesser-known indie titles every movie buff should immediately check out. We're guessing you've seen Good Will Hunting, so these choices are either less acclaimed or a little more off-the-radar than the usual picks.

[Editor's note: These movies are all available under the "Independent" section of Netflix's American Browse Menu. Apologies if any aren't available outside the United States.]

The One I Love

Starring: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson

One of the most original films of 2014 is The One I Love, a surreal look at love and relationships that's just as strangely mysterious as it is funny and likable. Duplass and Moss play a couple at the crossroads who take a therapist's advice to take a weekend retreat. But when they arrive, they discover another couple already there: themselves. The One I Love creatively wonders about the dynamics of a relationship and how people truly see themselves and their significant others. [2014, 91 minutes]

5 Essential Indies on Netflix Movie Buffs Need to See


Starring: Adrien Brody, Sami Gayle, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Betty Kaye

Directed by Tony Kaye (American History X), Detachment is a powerful look at one month in the life of a substitute teacher (Brody) as he juggles his job, relationships with two troubled students, and another with a fellow teacher. This is heavy stuff, so be forewarned, but the film is worth seeing for the performances of Brody and Sami Gayle (Vampire Academy), in her feature debut. [2011, 100 minutes]

5 Essential Indies on Netflix Movie Buffs Need to See
Tribeca Film

Rescue Dawn

Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies

Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn is the true story of Dieter Dengler, an American pilot who was shot down and taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. As always, Bale is fantastic in a transformative performance that keeps him on the edge of a razor for the duration. Along with two fellow prisoners, Dengler plans a daring escape that will either allow him to taste freedom once again or cost him his life in the scariest environment imaginable. Herzog is a master of authentic filmmaking and his cast (especially the villains) follow suit. This is a moving film of the power of hope and the human spirit. [2006, 120 minutes]

5 Essential Indies on Netflix Movie Buffs Need to See

The Believer

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Billy Zane, Theresa Russell

Just about every huge star who grew up acting has one movie that marks the transition from child to adult roles—The Believer was Ryan Gosling's. Gosling showed the world he was an undeniable talent with his complex and violent turn as Daniel Balint, an American Neo-Nazi who also happens to be Jewish. The story itself is fascinating, as Balint falls in with a group of fellow fascists and sees the truth of his beliefs, but the reason The Believer's great is Gosling himself. He creates a sympathetic character where you'd never believe one could be forged. [2001, 98 minutes]

5 Essential Indies on Netflix Movie Buffs Need to See
Fireworks Pictures

Valhalla Rising

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Gordon Brown

Before Drive, director Nicolas Winding Refn wowed the film industry with Valhalla Rising, an experience of a film that takes us back to 1000 A.D. and the time of the Crusades. This is a movie of brutal violence, apropos of the time, but it's also technically perfect with sights and sounds (and silence) you rarely see in movies today. Refn's cameras follow Mikkelsen as a Norse warrior dubbed One-Eye, a man of savagery who escapes his captors and falls in with a crew of Christian Crusaders in search of a worthy fight. [2009, 92 minutes]

5 Essential Indies on Netflix Movie Buffs Need to See
IFC Films

Managing Editor, Zimbio — entertainment writer, critic, and reporter since 2011. Bay Area. Origin: Shark City.