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15 Must See Indie Films of 2015

Here is our 15 must see indie films of 2015. Indie Film-Land is graced by the lovely Blythe Danner alongside the rugged steaminess of Sam Elliot in I’ll See You In My Dreams.  Indie film lovers will peek into a Rolling Stone writer’s encounter with David Foster Wallace. The End of the Tour is based on Lipsky’s critically-acclaimed memoir written following Wallace’s 2008 suicide.  Once you get in your Mad Max, Avengers, and  Poltergeist fix, here is the list of the must see indie films of 2015.

Ex Machina | April 10

ex-machina-movieWhy a must see: Cerebral sci-fi, for the sci-fi lover, or two, in your family.

A Critic Says: “Smart, sleek, sexy and spooky. One of the best modern sci-fi films, and a film that takes its time to develop ideas and characters. Oscar Isaac continues his reign as one of the best actors working today, and Alicia Vikander is a star about to break out in a big way.Also, I could watch Oscar Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno dance side-by-side forever.” – Chris Evangelista | CutPrintFilm

Director: Alex Garland | Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Corey Johnson, Deborah Rosan

I’ll See You In My Dreams | May 15

inmydreamsWhy a must see: A prolific actress with mounds of TV and movie roles behind her, Blythe Danner scores her best screen role in years with this affectionate film about a widow who starts a new chapter after her beloved dog’s death causes her to lose some zest.

A Critic Says: “The authenticity and honesty coursing through every scene of I’ll See You in My Dreams perfectly echoes the point of view of its elderly characters, who have no more time for nonsense or pretension, even in the most awkward or emotional moments.”—C.L | Sundance Institute

Director: Brett Haley | Cast: Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Martin Starr and Rhea Perlman

Love & Mercy |  June 5

love-mercyWhy a must see: For the love of the Beach Boys and John Cusack (God only know what I’d be without you!) – critics have championed Love & Mercy as a spirited respite from paint-by-numbers music biopics. Paul Dano plays Brian Wilson during the height of his Beach Boy fame in the ’60s, while John Cusack takes over during the ’80s, after Wilson’s spotlight had dimmed.

A Critic Says:  “This movie, a smart, compassionate, refreshingly unconventional biopic directed by Bill Pohlad, explores the mental world and the artistic method of a great artist.” – A. O. Scott | New York Times

Director: Bill Pohlad | Cast: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl | June 12

MeEarlandtheDyingGirlWhy a must see: Touted as “potentially awful stuff” by the New York Times critic, A.O.Scott. And yet, there is praise for the “sensitive and rueful and attuned to both the solipsism and the ethical seriousness of adolescence.”

A Critic Says: “The film is touching and small, but also thoughtful and assured in a way that lingers after the inevitable tears have been shed and the obvious lessons learned.” – A. O. Scott | New York Times

Directed: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | Cast: Thomas Mann,  Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler and Nick Offerman

The Overnight | June 19

the_overnightWhy a must see: The best “straight male comedian”, Adam Scott and to see if Taylor Schilling can be someone other than Piper. Oh, and did we say it was about edgier sex?

A Critic Says: “Bland meets bold in The Overnight, a comedy that coyly dips its toe and a few other body parts in the new sexual revolution.” – Manohla Dargis | New York Times

Director: Patrick Kack-Brice | Cast: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman

Mr. Holmes | July 17

2015, MR. HOLMESWhy a must see: Watch the mystery that is Sherlock Holmes in his elderly years.

A Critic Says: “Jeffrey Hatcher’s script neatly ties together the interplay between myth and memory – both unreliable and malleable – while McKellen nurtures his character’s changing nature with affection and grace.” – Mark Kermode, Observer film critic | The Guardian

Director: Bill Condon | Cast: Ian McKellen and Laura Linney

Irrational Man | July 24

irrationalmanWhy a must see: A white male professor having an existential crisis, go figure! But who can pass up Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone as instructor and student?  I can’t.

Director: Woody Allen | Cast: Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone


The End of the Tour | July 31

END-OF-THE-TOURWhy a must see: To experience a Rolling Stone journalist’s five-day road trip with the “Infinite Jest” author.

Director: James Ponsoldt | Cast:  Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Ron Livingston and Joan Cusack

A Critic Says: “This is no conventional biodrama about the tortured artist, but very much the film that lovers of Wallace’s dazzlingly perspicacious fiction and essays would want.” -David Rooney | Hollywood Reporter

 She’s Funny That Way | August 1

funny_that_wayWhy a must see: A Jazz scored, New York set film with amorous characters. Simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

A Critic Says: “uproarious throwback to the good old days of classic Hollywood. They just don’t make them like this anymore.” –  Aidil Rusli | Star2

Director: Peter Bogdanovich | Cast: Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, and Jennifer Aniston

The Diary of a Teenage Girl | August 7

DiaryWhy a must see: One of the most inspired coming-of-age tales in years set in the 70’s about a remarkable dumpy teenager engaging in an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Oooo scandalous!

Director: Marielle Heller | Cast: Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgård and Christopher Meloni

Sleeping With Other People | August 21

sleepingwithOPWhy a must see: Can men and women just be friends? Line reminiscent of one of our favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally.  Director Leslye Headland describes Sleeping With Other People , “a raunchy romantic comedy as “When Harry Met Sally for assh*les”.

Director: Leslye Headland | Cast:  Natasha Lyonne, Alison Brie, Adam Scott


Jane Got a Gun | September 4

janes-got-a-gun-natalie-portmanWhy a must see: Since the Black Swan (2010) Oscar win as Best Actress they lovely Natalie Portman hasn’t had a substantial role. We are more than ready to see Portman up on the big screen again as a woman forced to protect her crooked husband from the gang that betrayed him.

Director: Gavin O’Connor | Cast: Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton

Knight of Cups | December 11

knight-of-cups-bale-portmanWhy a must see: One of THE most captivating trailers I’ve ever seen and an incredible cast with Christion Bale et al., see below. Malick as the director. Exquisite cinematography. Need I say more?

Director: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line) | Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Jason Clarke and Imogen Poots

Carol | December 18

carolWhy a must see: Todd Haynes and Cate Blanchett  star together after nine years (I’m Not There) for a lesbian drama set in the 1950’s, co-starring Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)  as Blanchett’s love interest.  Yowzah!  Based on the 1952 novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith whose novels Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley also resulted in sensational queer films.

A Critic Says: “Haynes typically renders hallmarks of American culture in surprising ways that unearth the hidden codes governing human behavior. “Carol” is no exception. In the pair of measured looks that conclude the movie, he offers a sharp reminder that while this story is complicated by its setting and particular circumstances, the underlying ingredients reveal a profound desire for companionship familiar to all.” – By Eric Kohn | Cannes Review on Indiewire

Director: Todd Haynes | Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Todd Haynes

Grandma | TBD

lily-tomlin-grandmaWhy a must see:  I recall Lilly Tomlin on TV years ago sitting in an oversize rocking chair causing me to double over in stitches over her ‘little girl bit’ and Grandma happens to be Lily Tomlin’ s first leading film role in twenty seven years after co-starring with Bette Midler in 1988’s comedy film Big Business. Tomlin as the woman whose granddaughter unexpectedly shows up needing $600 before sundown to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. The duo spend the day trying to get their hands on the cash as their unannounced visits to old friends and flames end up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets.

A Critic says: “Tomlin’s performance is “unapologetic, hysterical, moving — it’s the kind of performance that stays with you, gets inside you, makes you feel compelled to love harder.” – Stephanie Allain | Director of the LA Film Festival | Variety

A little gem to tide you over, on Netflix, while you’re waiting for Grandma‘s release- watch Tomlin in Grace and Frankie, a hilarious comedy with Jane Fonda.

As always…  Thank you for supporting indie!


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Category: Indie It Film

About the Author: Leisa Greene’s passions include writing about music, theater, film, food, art, family and friends -- all of which are supported by the community of Missoula and an IV line of dark-roasted iced coffee. She is the English Department’s Administrative Associate of Graduate Admissions at her alma mater, University of Montana; the editor-in-chief of Indie It Press; and the author of a memoir manuscript currently titled EARLY OUT. Her other writing consists of short essays (Brother Townsend and A Jamboree Family), playwriting (The Beckett Syndrome) and screenwriting. “The only regret you will ever have is if you never write it. So, go write it Mom. “ – Dustin Nelson, my son

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