Most people love watching mainstream Hollywood films—with their big actors, larger-than-life stories, and amazing special effects, what’s not to like? But if you want to know a secret, there are beautiful stories from independent films that are overlooked because they have less budget for marketing than big studios do. The best part is that oftentimes, big Hollywood stars are cast in them too.
Here are a few brilliant indie films that you should watch.
The Runaways (2010)
By this time, people know Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan from the massive success of the Twilight films. However, when she’s not falling in love with a vampire or being one, Stewart is actually a serious actress who gets a lot of indie projects. One of which is The Runaways, which is about the story of the real band. Stewart gave an awesome performance as rock legend Joan Jett, who eventually went on to be the voice of the iconic song “I Love Rock and Roll.”
A coming-of-age drama, Submarine is about a 15-year-old boy who experiences his first infatuation amidst family drama. Fun and quirky with several hard-hitting teen issues here and there, the film gathered positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling it “funny, stylish, and ringing with adolescent truth.”
The Science of Sleep (2006)
Before Leonardo DiCaprio messed us all up in Inception, there was another film about dreams that people could learn a lot from—and in this one, dreams too, become so vivid that they interfere with real life. Before you get scared, though, this French fantasy film is more feel-good than action.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Before Abigail Breslin was a Chanel in Scream Queens, she starred in a feel-good movie about a family road trip. The black comedy is the directorial debut of husband and wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, but it was a huge success—so much so that it was bought by Fox Searchlight and came to be one of the biggest deals made in the history of the Sundance Film Festival.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
This is one of the first zombie movies made, and it is so good, with the bad effects and all. The tech wasn’t that advanced, but it still offered a lot of scares. Besides, it’s a cult classic now, so you should watch it if you ever call yourself a zombie movie fan.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Speaking of gory films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a macabre film that has become a real classic in the slasher genre. The film is brutal, raw, and definitely worthy the name of a horror film, and it’s great for movie night with your friends.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The original found footage horror, the amateur filming made people think that the story was actually true! The premise: three young movie makers try to produce a documentation of the myth of the Blair Witch—but they disappeared and their video camera was found a year later.
Despite dealing with a serious issue about teen pregnancy, Juno was a light and funny film with incredibly witty conversation. Plus, the quirky little details like the hamburger phone add a lot of character to the story.
Before Sunrise (1995)
If you watched the recently released Before Midnight, the story actually started with Before Sunrise back in 1995. Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply’s characters met on a train ride to Vienna and had that one romantic night. Who knew that story will spawn decades?
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Before Heath Ledger died, he made a beautiful film with Jake Gyllenhaal. The cult film is one of the first gay romances that got a lot of attention—and done in good taste too. Directed by Ang Lee, the film is both a commercial and a critical success, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
What made this film so good is that the Stephen Chbosky, the author of the novel, is also the director and producer. Following the story of a high-school boy named Charlie, this coming-of-age story dabbles about different issues such as homosexuality and depression. Starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, this film will make you realize the importance of music and friendship.