WORTH WATCHING

Celebrate Independence Day with 15 Great Indies on Netflix Instant

by
July 4, 2013

Netflix

It's that time of year again in the United States when the country gets together, takes days off work, cooks raw flesh, shoots explosives into the sky and drinks until the sun comes up. No, it's not just Thursday. It's Independence Day. But if you're not one heading out on the town and wish to partake in some indoor festivities, then we've decided to round up some independent films (get it?) that you can watch now, thanks to the fantastic service that is Netflix. Below you'll find a list of a number of great films that are available to stream right now on Netflix Instant. Most are from the past couple years, and some are just our favorites.

Super
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For those who liked Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass, but might want a darker, more grounded comedy featuring "real" superheroes, this film from director James Gunn (the man who will be at the helm of Guardians of the Galaxy) should tickle your fancy. Rainn Wilson takes on the role of a mentally unstable man just trying to get his drug-addicted girlfriend back from a jerk criminal, and he does that by becoming the Crimson Bolt, armed with a wrench. Ellen Page comes along for the ride as his eager sidekick, and makes for a twisted companion in this sometimes surprisingly violent but hilarious dark comedy.

Safety Not Guaranteed
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This could have easily been just another do-it-yourself indie, but with the stellar cast of Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, and newcomer Kran Soni all putting forth breakthrough performances, not to mention the always great Mark Duplass, this is a "time travel film" that is completely on the other end of the spectrum of Looper. And while this is certainly funny, it's not just a comedy and has a lot to say about the human condition and the fragility of our emotions and lives in the wake of heartbreak. Director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly gave themselves a chance at a big future in film after this.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
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The Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, Baghead, Cyrus) team up with mainstream stars Jason Segel and Ed Helms for this brotherly indie coming-of-age comedy. Segel and Helms play two brothers -- one a moderate success, the other still living with Mom who have one hell of a day that will turn both of their lives upside down and question their place in life and the direction they are going. This is the kind of film that lets funnymen like Segel and Helms stretch their dramatic chops while still bringing some laughs. Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer also co-star in this satisfying sibling flick.

Bernie
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Actor and comedian Jack Black finally made a film he can be proud of again last year. After a slough of numerous disappointments including Gulliver's Travels and The Big Year, Black decided to collaborate with director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, The School of Rock) on this unique mix of a traditional dark comedy and mockumentary. What really makes this adaptation of a true story spectacular is the real-life talking heads that show up throughout the film to talk about the strange relationship Black's character creates with Shirley MacLaine. This one almost got Black an Oscar nomination.

Everything Must Go
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Will Ferrell always seems to shine whether it's in a mainstream comedy or a lower key comedic drama, and this film from director Dan Rush is no exception. After his alcoholism costs him his marriage and his job as a sales executive, sad sack Nick Halsey (Ferrell) tries to make a fresh start and hopes to let go of his baggage, literally and figuratively, by selling all of his belongings in a yard sale. Rebecca Hall makes for a lovely companion with Ferrell who brings back some of the impressive dramatic talent put on display in Stranger Than Fiction. This is truly a hidden gem and highlight of Ferrell's career.

The Details
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It's a shame this film flew under the radar and got such a careless release from The Weinstein Company, but Tobey Maguire puts in a great performance throughout the ludicrous and twisted happenings after a series of mistakes cause Dr. Lang to make some pretty unethical decisions that slowly begin to tear his family apart. Never has suburban turmoil been so perversely hilarious. Elizabeth Banks, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta and Laura Linney star in the film from Mean Creek director Jacob Aaron Estes and it's certainly worth checking out two years after its premiere at Sundance.

Primer
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Arguably the most realistic and mind-numbing time travel film ever made, this indie was made on the cheap, but it doesn't need a big budget to impress. The script and the premise are the star as an engineer accidentally builds a machine that can transport the user back in time. But the rules of traveling through time are a little complicated, and the layers of this story and the timelines therein will make you want to watch this film over and over to pick up every single detail. This is the debut film from director Shane Carruth and you'll want to watch it before catching his sophomore effort...

Upstream Color
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After premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the second film from Primer director Shane Carruth perplexed and amazed with a series of interconnected stories including a man and a woman who have both been abducted and hypnotized with material harvested from a flower. Together, they search for safety as they struggle to reassemble their wrecked lives. The film is somewhat extract and existential, a question of the machine that guides our lives and how we're all apart of a larger system, for better or worse. It's a slow burn and certainly complex, so make sure you're in the right frame of mind.

Wet Hot American Summer
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It's a cast of great comedians and future headliners all together in one of the greatest spoofs ever made. It's the end of summer, and everyone at Camp Firewood wants a final shot at some action. Everyone has their own camp cliche story to follow, and there's plenty of laughs with a cast that includes Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garafolo, David Hyde Pierce, Elizabeth Banks, Zak Orth, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio and Christopher Meloni. It's one of the funniest comedies of the 2000's for sure.

Sleepwalk with Me
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This is a film that made my list of the Top 20 Films of 2012 at #20, so it holds a special place in my heart. Comedian Mike Birbiglia makes his directorial debut and proves he can be quite the funny and charming leading man with this adaptation of his stand-up act, book and radio segment of the same name. Produced by "This American Life" personality Ira Glass, the film is inspired by Birbiglia's real-life family and sleepwalking disorder as it follows a struggling stand-up comedian and his trials and tribulations in love and this strange nighttime affliction. Birbiglia makes quite a splash with his first film, and it's the kind of indie you love to see get noticed by general audiences.

Blue Valentine
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If the 4th of July isn't your bag, and you're looking to be depressed for some reason, this should do the trick. This upsetting story of a relationship falling apart from director Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines) features stellar performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Once crazy about each other, Cindy and Dean have now grown apart. Cindy is disenchanted while Dean languishes in the emotional emptiness of their life in rural Pennsylvania. As they muddle through their marriage, they hearken back to the golden days ever so briefly and try to salvage the love that once blossomed between them.

Like Crazy
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Hailed as last year's Blue Valentine for a younger generation, this romance will lift your heart up and slam it to the ground. Oh, and it also does that about three or four times. It may not make you want to see the movie, but this harrowing love story will make you feel like you've just been broken up with in the worst way possible. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones show that they're some of the finest young talent working today, and really make you feel like you're watching two of your best friends endure the most difficult relationship of their lives. Tip: don't watch this one alone.

The Comedy
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Taking aim at the indie genre, this abstract comedy from Rick Alverson features alternative comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (also known as "Tim & Eric") in the story of an aging hipster named Swanson (Heidecker), who is inured to his life of privilege in New York, where he will inherit his father's wealth. Instead of doing anything meaningful with his time, Swanson engages in meaningless games of casual cruelty with his equally numb friends. Neil Hamburger, James Murphy and more are along for the ride in this Sundance selected film that is equally brilliant and strange.

Struck by Lightning
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Even if you're not a fan of "Glee" you should give series star Chris Colfer a chance as a leading man and screenwriter with this story about a high school student who, after being struck by lightning, recounts the way he blackmailed his fellow classmates into contributing to his literary magazine. The film also features Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney, Polly Bergen, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Hyland and Angela Kinsey. Not many high school movies are up to snuff, but this is one of those rare gems that shouldn't be overlooked.

Submarine
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Take the dark twisted humor from across the pond, a Scorsese-inspired shooting style, and a coming-of-age story that spans across generations and you get this fantastic directorial debut from comic actor Richard Ayoade. Complete with breakthrough performances from young stars Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige, the film has flares of iconic filmmakers like Woody Allen and Hal Ashby. It has a personality that feels contemporary and classic all at once to the point that I'd go so far as to call it timeless. This will go down as an overlooked indie classic and one that could very well be used to enlighten film students years from now.

We hope these films tickle your fancy whether you're celebrating Independence Day or just love movies!

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  • Jon Odishaw
    I must say I loved safety not guaranteed and super and thusly am looking forward to JP4 and guardians of the galaxy.
  • Nathan Gross
    I loved every film from this list that I have seen (at least half) so I trust that I will love the ones that I have not seen. Great list! God bless!
  • A_A
    Almost all of the list has been on my queue for months, and all those that i've seen, are very good.
  • Red Viper
    Great list it! I highly recommend Submarine. It's one of my all time favoritie movies. Happy 4th firstshowing.net!
  • Tits
    Thanks for putting this list together. I could have never gone to independent page on netflix and found these gems.
  • daneforst
    Submarine is outstanding

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