Hollywood has changed a lot in the past decade. Once upon a time, Hollywood was the only place to find blockbuster movies and occasionally an indie film that made it big. Nowadays, there are tons of independent films being released every year – some good, some not so good. So many new films are being released that it can be hard to keep up with the latest releases. In this blog post, we will discuss the ten best indie movies of 2020.
1) Miss Juneteenth
Miss Juneteenth focuses on Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie), a single mother preparing her daughter for a beauty pageant.
Miss Juneteenth has been praised as one of the best films about black women coming out in 2020. Its gorgeous cinematography and compelling storytelling will leave you at the edge of your seat.
Featuring Nicole Beharie from Sleepy Hollow fame, Miss Juneteenth is well worth watching if you want a film celebrating African American culture while examining issues such as race relations and social media obsession.
Directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, the movie is made on a modest budget of 2.5 million(approx.). But that doesn’t stop it from packing a punch! It also stars Alexis Chikaeze, Kendrick Sampson & Akron Watson in supporting roles.
2) Never Rarely Sometimes Always
This British-American film of 2020 stars Sidney Flanigan. The protagonist of the movie, Autumn, is facing an unintended pregnancy. She risks traveling to New York City for more resources and support along with her cousin Skylar. Although it sounds simple enough, she cannot get an abortion done in her state of Pennsylvania as it needs parental permission. She moves to NYC in hopes of getting one done there. There they encounter a series of other problems which is what the main premise of the movie is.
The movie is directed by Eliza Hittman who is also from NYC. Naver Rarely Sometimes Always was nominated and won several awards like the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize in the Berlin international film festival. It was released on March 13th, 2020 in the US and had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
3) Blow The Man Down
From directors, Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down is about Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla Connolly (Sophie Lowe). In the aftermath of a run-in with a dangerous man, both Mary, and Priscilla attempt to cover up their horrific ordeal. To hide their crime, the sisters must delve deep into the criminal underworld of their hometown and unveil its darkest secrets.
The movie was shot in the state of Maine in a small town named Harpswell. It was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019 & released in Mar 2020 by Amazon.
It has elements of comedy & thriller rolled into one which is rarely seen in an indie movie. Amazon Studios have recently produced a string of indie movies on a low budget that has done well critically and this is no different.
4) Sound Of Metal
Starring Riz Ahmed Ahmed who plays a heavy-metal drummer. He gradually loses his hearing and the struggles that come with are brilliantly depicted in this movie. Sign language is used in a lot of scenes which will be a treat to watch for moviegoers & especially for those with hearing disabilities.
Sound Of Metal has been praised by critics and viewers alike with many considering it one of the best movies of 2020. It was nominated in six categories at the 93rd Academy Awards. Categories in which it was nominated included Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing & Best Sound. It won in the last two categories.
It was written & directed by Darius Marder whose previous credits include 2012’s ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ as a writer. The movie was released in Nov 2020 in the United States by Amazon Studios.
5) First Cow
Under Kelly Reichardt’s direction, First Cow is more than just a movie. It focuses on two gold prospectors on the run from a pack of hunters in the 1820s Pacific Northwest. They hope to make some fortune. But the plan to make fortune quickly becomes complicated when they learn that they need to buy a dairy cow.
It has been praised by critics for its artistry & simplicity but criticized because audiences may not be able to understand certain aspects if they are new to rural culture.
Made on a shoestring budget of only 2 Million USD the movie was released in March 2020 both in theatres as well as a VOD. The movie is based on a book called The Half Life, written by Jonathon Raymond. First Cow won the Best Film award at the 2020 New York Film Critic Circle Awards. The National Board of Review named it in their top 10 best movies of 2020.
A hopelessly ill teenage girl meets a drug dealer she falls in love with and her parents disapprove. While he appeared closed off at first, she finds out that he is the soulmate she was searching for. However, her parents aren’t supportive of this relationship as they believe the boy isn’t right for their girl. But the girl is adamant that despite the boy’s drug problems he is the one that can understand her.
Directed by Australian film director Shannon Murphy whose TV credits include shows like Love Child, Offspring, On The Ropes. It was released on 23rd July 2020. The movie is based on an Australian play of the same name by playwright Rita Kalnejais. Babyteeth won a string of major awards like the AACTA and was premiered in Venice Film Festival and also at the Brussels International Film Festival.
7) Palm Springs
Budgeted at 5 million dollars, this sci-fi rom-com was one of the best indie movies that were released in 2020. The movie tells the story of two wedding guests that are caught in a time loop. Soon they start to fall for each other as they experience the same day over and over on repeat.
The production company behind this movie is Film Nation Entertainment whose other notable works include Miss Sloane & The Founder to name a few. Directed by Max Barbakow the movie was sold to Neon & Hulu for a hefty price. Palm Springs was released in July 2020 and according to Variety, it was the 26th most-watched film(straight to streaming) of 2020.
What’s interesting to note that the film was completed in a span of only 21 days when it started in April 2019. With a series of awards like the ACE Eddie Awards, Critics Movie Choice & Critics Choice Super Awards under its belt it was critically acclaimed as well.
Based on the 2017 book Nomadland: Surviving America In The Twenty-First Century written by Jessica Bruder. The film was directed by Chloe Zhao. The protagonist of this film is a woman in her 60’s who suffered a terrible loss in the Great Recession. The majority of her time is then spent living on the road, touring the American West as a self-described nomad.
The trailer shows Fern(Frances McDormand) traveling across America from state to state with her caravan: RV’s, trailers, vans, etc., stopping at mall parking lots; truck stops for gas stations or food stalls; cheap motels that rent rooms by the week.
Nomadland has been lauded for its stunning cinematography and powerful look into this underground world which highlights many sociological issues such as unemployment and homelessness.
Nomadland won the Best Film, Best Actress & Best Director award at the 93rd Academy Awards and was widely praised critically.
9) Promising Young Man
A well-made thriller film that was directed by Emerald Fennell. He is also the writer & co-producer of the film and this is her first major directorial film.
The movie revolves around Cassie who’s life is besieged with mystery and hidden secrets. Her bright-eyed, streetwise character is cunning and she exhibits this trait in her choice of a job at night. Cassie pretends to be drunk in bars & clubs at night. She allows men to take her home only up until the point that she’s tried to take advantage of. Why does she do that? Well, there is a reason so watch it to find out more!
Cassie is played by Carey Mulligan, supported by actors like Alison Brie & Bo Burnham. It was nominated for several awards at the 93rd Academy Awards with Emerald Fennell winning the Best Screenplay Award.
Fun fact – Margot Robbie is a producer for this film.
10) On The Rocks
On The Rocks is a story of an adventurous young parent who reconnects with her breathtaking playboy father taking a delightful visual adventure through the streets of New York City. This comedy about the difficulties of marriage as two people grow older, parents and grown children, Laura, a married mother of two living in New York, suspects her husband may have an affair with his coworker, encouraged by her father, an individual who enjoys living a life of indulgence.
Directed by Sofia Coppola who has a directing experience of more than 20 years starting with her very first directorial debut Lick The Star (1998). On The Rocks was released in October 2020 and stars Bill Murray & Rashida Jones in the lead. It had a theatrical release which was followed by streaming on Apple TV+.