June 25, 2024

While everyone loves a good blockbuster from time to time, there’s something about a great independent film that strikes a particular chord. Indie movies can feel like hidden gems when you discover them, as they rarely get the kind of distribution or marketing that turns major studio movies into box office hits. And you can often feel the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making an indie movie, as the filmmakers involved put everything on the line for the sake of their art. So since Netflix contains a multitude of viewing options, we figured it’d be appropriate to go through and pull out the very best independent films currently available on the streaming service. So below, peruse through our list of the best indie movies on Netflix right now.

For additional recommendations, check out our lists of the best dramas on Netflix, best comedies on Netflix, best documentaries on Netflix, and best movies on Netflix.

Editor’s note: This article was updated February 2023 to include An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn.

RELATED: The Best Hidden Gems and Underrated Movies on Netflix Right Now


Malcolm & Marie (2021)

Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 45 min | Genre: Romance Drama | Director: Sam Levinson

Cast: John David Washington, Zendaya

If you loved Euphoria and need more Zendaya content in your life, then Netflix’s romantic drama Malcolm & Marie should provide more than enough great moments from the young star. Zendaya and John David Washington co-star in a semi-autobiographical story from director Sam Levinson; Washington plays an acclaimed filmmaker who returns home with his girlfriend after his latest film premiered at a festival. After he doesn’t thank her in his speech, the couple embark on a night of arguing, ranting about the state of the cinema industry, and deciphering whether they’re good together or not. It’s one of the few films to actually benefit from the restrictions of the pandemic, as trapping these two emotional powerkegs in an enclosed environment only increases the romantic tension. Neither character comes out on top, and its fun to watch these two charismatic stars trade zingers with each other. – Liam Gaughan

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An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn (2018)

Run Time: 1 hr 48 min | Genre: Comedy Crime | Director: Jim Hosking

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, Craig Robinson, Emile Hirsch

Co-written by David Wike and director Jim Hosking, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is an eccentric comedy. Weaving together elements of slapstick with absurdism and mystery, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn presents a tapestry of oddities expressed vividly through a cast of beloved comedic actors. Aubrey Plaza (The White Lotus) and Jemaine Clement (Men in Black III) star as a couple in turmoil supported by a noteworthy array of thoroughly hilarious comedians, including Craig Robinson as the titular Beverly Luff Linn. An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn astoundingly unites a ridiculous tale of love with screwball comedy antics, crafting a piece of magical entertainment. – Yael Tygiel

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The Wonder (2022)

Lib, wearing a bright blue dress and standing in a graveyard in 'The Wonder.'
Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 43 min | Genre: Psychological Period Drama | Director: Sebastián Lelio

Cast: Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, Elaine Cassidy

Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, The Wonder is set right after The Great Famine and follows a skeptical nurse named Lib (Florence Pugh) as she observes a young “fasting girl” – a young woman called Anna (Kila Lord Cassidy) who is seemingly able to live without eating due to miraculous circumstances. Despite a cold reception by the community and complicated politics of the matter, a determined Lib does everything in her power to do what’s best for Anna. The film has received praise across the board, particularly for its cinematography and excellent performance by Pugh. – Taylor Gates

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The Lost Daughter (2021)

The Lost Daughter IMDb
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Run Time: 2 hr 1 min | Genre: Psychological Drama | Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson

Based on the novel of the same name by Italian writer Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter is a slow-burn, unnerving drama about motherhood and all the pain that comes with it. In her debut as a director, Maggie Gyllenhaal tells the story of Leda (Olivia Colman), a literature professor vacationing in the Greek islands who develops an obsession with a young mother and her daughter. What begins as a would-be friendship slowly turns into something darker as Leda’s past and Nina’s (Dakota Johnson) family slither in between the two women, forcing them onto a path that can only lead to tragedy. Leda’s comings and goings in Greece are interwoven with glimpses of her past life as a young mother (played by Jessie Buckley) that illuminate her choices and her fascination with Nina and little Elena (Athena Martin). The result is a brutally honest character study that looks at motherhood with a sincerity that few other movies can manage. – Elisa Guimarães

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The Hand of God (2021)

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Run Time: 2 hr 10 min | Genre: Comedy Drama | Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Renato Carpentieri, Massimiliano Gallo

The expressive arthouse style of Paolo Sorrentino might not be for everyone, but for cinephiles looking to get into his work for the first time, The Hand of Godis actually a great place to start. Rather than focus on themes of aging and mortality that tend to dominate his work, Sorrentino tells a personal autobiography story of his youthful summers in Italy, and how he discovered his passion for filmmaking in the first place. It’s an intimate story that speaks to the aspiring artist within all of us. If you’re looking for something halfway between 81/2 and Call Me By Your Name, The Hand of God is for you.- Liam Gaughan

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Blue Jay (2016)

Blue-Jay-Movie copy
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Run Time: 1 hr 25 min | Genre: Romance Drama | Director: Alex Lehmann

Cast: Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson

In this sweet but gutwrenching story, former high school loves reconnect over one night when they return to their Californian hometown. Jim (Mark Duplass) returns to get his mother’s house ready for selling and is grappling with personal and professional issues. Amanda (Sarah Paulson) is successful and married, returning to visit her family. After a chance encounter at the supermarket, they decide to dance down memory lane, discovering tokens of their relationship in Jim’s mother’s house and role-playing as a middle-aged married couple like they used to when they were teens. However, painful memories also come to the surface and we learn more about our two main characters and their past as the film goes on, ultimately ending with no secrets spared, leaving both characters as vulnerable as possible. The chemistry between Paul and Duplass couldn’t be more natural, perfectly playing the ones that got away from each other, and even after 20 years, their connection is electric, showing that no love was lost. – Emma Kiely

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Newness (2017)

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Run Time: 1 hr 52 min | Genre: Romance Drama | Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Laia Costa, Courtney Eaton, Jessica Henwick, and Matthew Grey Gubler

Newness is a movie made for the Netflix and Chill era, as it takes a microscope to the world of online dating and casual hookups. Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa play a pair of twentysomethings who meet in New York City on a dating app, and soon thereafter begin a somewhat open relationship. The ups and downs and all that entails care chronicled in intimate detail by Like Crazy filmmaker Drake Doremus, and while this is very much a 21st Century Love Story at heart, it’s quite, uh, steamy getting there. – Adam Chitwood

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The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

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Run Time: 1 hr 25 min | Genre: Romance Drama | Director: Jim Strouse

Cast: Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield, Noel Wells

Jessica Williams still hasn’t got the breakout she deserves since her tenure on The Daily Show, but the indie rom-com The Incredible Jessica James is the first time since then we’ve got to see her step into a lead role and she just lights up the screen. Now, the character of Jessica James may not be quite as incredible as the title leads you to believe — she’s actually pretty selfish and naive — but she’s passionate, raw, and ambitious, and Williams makes you love her in spite of her faults. A supporting performance from the constantly charming Chris O’Dowd certainly doesn’t hurt, and the two have electric chemistry as they try to navigate the waters of heartbreak together toward something healthy and new. Sexy, funny, and decidedly modern, The Incredible Jessica James is a refreshing spin on the rom-com that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. — Haleigh Foutch

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White Girl (2018)

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Run Time: 1 hr 28 min | Genre: Drama | Director: Elizabeth Wood

Cast: Morgan Saylor, Brian Marc, Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Justin Bartha

This gritty and shocking drama focuses on the underbelly of young NYC life. Leah (Morgan Saylor) moves to New York during the summer with her best friend (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) to get ready to start college in the city. When Leah starts dating local drug dealer, Blue (Brian Marc), their lives consist of partying, drugs, sex, and making money. But when Blue is arrested and Leah needs to sell off the rest of his stash to get money for a lawyer, Leah’s hedonistic lifestyle takes a dark turn. Audiences should be warned, this film does depict scenes of sexual assault and it will probably leave you feeling empty and numb after. But White Girl is well worth the watch. Saylor’s lead performance is riveting as Leah, and the film allows us more “chill” folk to gain an insight into the wild debaucheries of American youth, as well as the dangers and horrors that can come with it.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

ballad of buster scruggs

Run Time: 2 hr 12 min | Genre: Western Drama | Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Waits, Liam Neeson

A series of six vignettes in the Old West varies in style as well as tone from the great directing duo of Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a cinematic treat that has something for everyone. Want a more silly, slapstick story where Tim Blake Nelson is a goofy gunslinger? Looking for a more existential musing on greed and wealth where Tom Waits plays a man digging for gold? There is all that and more in each of these incisive shorts that never miss a beat in each new story. Overflowing with a dark sensibility and plenty of death, the short with Waits, in particular, marks a high point as it speaks volumes without the characters saying much of anything at all. There is just so much vision and creativity on display in even the simplest of the shorts that will wow anyone who has ever had even a passing interest in a Western. It is through the patient eye of the Coens’ that each story gets plenty of time to breathe and leave a lasting mark on the audience. Whether it is with big shootouts or extended conversation with dialogue that is as rich as it is revealing, this is the filmmaking duo really flexing all their muscles to magnificent results. – Chase Hutchinson

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Windfall (2022)

Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons in Windfall
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Run Time: 1 hr 22 min | Genre: Crime Thriller | Director: Charlie McDowell

Cast: Jason Segel, Lily Collins, Jesse Plemons

Bolstered by its committed cast, Windfall is a film that most closely resembles a reimagining of the work of Alfred Hitchcockwith its own modern sensibility. It stars Jason Segel who plays an unnamed man who breaks into the fancy vacation home of a wealthy tech CEO (Jesse Plemons) and his wife (Lily Collins). Before he can make his escape unnoticed, the man is caught and takes the couple hostage in exchange for a payout that will take a while to arrive. The film then becomes about slow-burning tension as the trio remains locked down in the home and the surrounding area as they wait. It isn’t quite up to the same standard as Hitchcock though the performances are all remarkable. In particular, Plemons’ smarmy CEO steals every scene and expertly captures the despicable greed of his character. It all builds to a cathartic conclusion that ties everything up in a nice bow and helps to make it a solid enough cinematic outing defined by strong performances. – Chase Hutchinson

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His House (2020)

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Run Time: 1 hr 33 min | Genre: Horror Thriller | Director: Remi Weekes

Cast: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith

An incredible feature debut from director Remi Weekes, His House is a work of unflinching social horror where the terror is found not just in the supernatural but in the struggles that face an immigrant couple just trying to survive. It stars Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku as Bol and Rial Majur, who have just narrowly escaped war in South Sudan to try to make a new life in a small English town. What they find is a town that is actively hostile to them, making them feel more and more unwelcome. They experience resentment from others and endless pressure to assimilate that only makes their difficult adjustment all that much harder. To make matters worse, there is an evil force that is lurking in their house and a dark secret the two share that is coming back to haunt them with terrifying visions. It may sound like a haunting house story you have heard before but it is so much more than that. Yes, the use of sound and visual terror is perfect, though, it is the strong emotional undercurrent that makes this film such a memorable one. – Chase Hutchinson

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Creep (2014)

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Run Time: 1 hr 22 min | Genre: Horror Thriller | Director: Patrick Brice

Cast: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass

Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass arguably made the creepiest found-footage movie ever with just a camera on their hands and a lot of creativity. Creep sets the stage for the horrors that’ll come by introducing Aaron (Brice), a struggling videographer who accepts the job to record one day of the life of a man named Josef (Duplass). Josef says that he has a brain tumor that may cause strange behavior, and that’ll soon take his life. However, as Aaron and the audience soon discover, Josef is just playing mind games with Aaron, pushing the limits of what we can accept from a regular social interaction. Slow and steady, Creep becomes more and more disturbing as Josef plays around with how far Aaron will go to make things right with this weird stranger, unknowing that he might be the next victim of a true psychopath. It’s a must-see for any horror fan and one that proves how an amazing duo of artists can carry a whole movie on their backs. — Marco Vito Oddo

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Creep 2 (2017)

Creep-2-movie copy
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Run Time: 1 hr 20 min | Genre: Horror Thriller | Director: Patrick Brice

Cast: Mark Duplass, Desiree Akhavan, Karan Soni

The idea of a sequel for the found-footage gem might sound weird. The first film already reveals Josef’s (Mark Duplass) nature as a psychopath who hunts people using empathy as bait. So, just repeating the same formula with a new victim would result in a less interesting experience. That’s why Brice and Duplass completely subvert the audience’s expectations. In Creep 2, Josef, now under the name of Aaron, is going through a midlife crisis and questioning his killing ways. That’s why he invites YouTuber Sara (Desiree Akhavan) to record the last day of his life before he commits suicide. Josef/Aaron is determined to take his own life and just wants Sara to document the twisted way his mind works. Sara knows right from the start what kind of animal Josef/Aaron is, which changes the dynamic of predator and prey, making Creep 2 one of the best horror sequels. — Marco Vito Oddo

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Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Vanessa Kirby and Molly Parker in Pieces of a Woman
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Run Time: 2 hr 6 min | Genre: Drama | Director: Kornél Mundruczó

Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger

Everyone’s mourning process is different. The critically acclaimed drama Pieces of a Woman depicts every parents’ worst nightmare. Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf) are a young couple anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child, but when tragedy strikes during a home birth, Martha begins to question her purpose and identity, as well as her future with the ones she loves. Thrust into an emotional court battle and crippled by loss, Martha does her best to find peace, answers, and forgiveness during the emotional aftermath. The film features a career-best performance by Kirby, who was nominated for an Oscar for her heart-wrenching and raw portrayal of a woman desperately clinging to hope and meaning. –Emily Bernard

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Private Life (2018)

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Run Time: 2 hr 7 min | Genre: Comedy Drama | Director: Tamara Jenkins

Cast: Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch

In her long-awaited follow-up to Savages, Tamara Jenkins returned to tell another sensitive story about uncomfortable family relationships. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahnstar as the middle-aged couple Richard and Rachel, who are desperate to have a child after several failed attempts at artificial insemination. Between applying at adoption agencies and spiraling medical bills, it seems like their perfect ideal family may never happen. It’s a brittle look at aging, and Giamatti and Hahn have terrific chemistry. Both characters are New York writers, and their amusing comments about the nature of their work add touches of humor to the emotional story. –Liam Gaughan

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Win It All (2017)

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Run Time: 1 hr 30 min | Genre: Comedy | Director: Joe Swanberg

Cast: Jake Johnson, Aislinn Derbez, Joe Lo Truglio, Keegan-Michael Key

The “mumblecore” subgenre may not be for everyone, but Joe Swanberg is one of the filmmakers who has managed to elevate the indie subgenre with his heartfelt examination of adult relationships. Win It All is another pairing with Jake Johnson, who starred in Swanberg’s previous films Drinking Buddies and Digging For Fire, and it’s perhaps their best work to date. Johnson delivers one of the best performances of his career as Eddie Garrett, a down-on-his-luck gambling addict who meets a woman who gives him a reason to change his ways. Johnson develops the “hapless loser” character into a man who actually seems interested in redemption. –Liam Gaughan

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Other People (2016)

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Run Time: 1 hr 37 min | Genre: Drama Comedy | Director: Chris Kelly

Cast: Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, Zach Woods

Former Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly told his own autobiographical story in this underrated Sundance gem. Jesse Plemonsgives a stellar performance as the Kelly stand-in character David, a troubled sketch comedy writer who returns to his hometown of Sacramento to care for his mother (Molly Shannon) as she struggles with cancer. Shannon treats her difficult chemotherapy process with a sense of optimism, and the bond she and Plemons have is truly touching. Kelly is unafraid to show some of the most emotional aspects of his own life, including his tense conversations with his homophobic father (Bradley Whitford). –Liam Gaughan

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

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Run Time: 2 hr 14 min | Genre: Thriller Horror Psychological Drama | Director: Charlie Kaufman

Cast: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis

Based on the novel of the same name by Iain Reid, the wonderfully strange film I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a surreal psychological thriller that follows a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who is questioning her relationship with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons). Against her better judgment, she joins him on a trip to his parents’ (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) remote farm. Upon arriving at the old-fashioned and snowy location, the woman begins to feel claustrophobic in their odd reality and regrets not ending things with Jake much earlier. Any film from the enigmatic mind ofCharlie Kaufmanis sure to leave you with more questions than answers. –Emily Bernard

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Hush (2016)

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Run Time: 1 hr 27 min | Genre: Horror Thriller Slasher | Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco

Long before Mike Flanagan achieved stardom with The Haunting series and Midnight Mass, the filmmaker was still pushing the boundaries of horror to tell deeply emotional stories about humans struggling with everyday life. In Hush, Flanagan makes the most of a single set to create one of the best home invasion stories on the market. That’s because the film doesn’t waste much time with the identity of the killer, and after the first arch, we already know what’s at stake. Then, Hush can focus on the clash of wits between a psychopath (John Gallagher Jr.), who wants to break into a house, and the hearing-impaired Maddie (Kate Siegel), who must defend herself even though she cannot hear anything. Through the use of silence, Flanagan also creates a unique film experience, while the audience shares Maddie’s obstacles while trying to predict where the killer will attack next. — Marco Vito Oddo

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