Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Indie movies are wonderfully weird, usually very meaningful, and are full of heart. These are films produced outside of the major film studio system and distributed by independent entertainment companies. Some of the most popular indie movies from the last few years include: Room, Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. They are all incredibly unique because they are not required to follow any of the guidelines or templates that so many of today’s movies blindly follow. What they lack in budget and exposure, they make up for in beauty and meaningfulness. Here is a list of independent films (and their Rotten Tomatoes scores) that deserve the world’s attention. 


Columbus (2017) – 97%

After his father falls very ill, Jin finds himself stranded in Columbus, IN, a town with little more than a few modernist buildings. He quickly befriends Casey, a young architecture enthusiast who wants to stay with her addict mother rather than pursue her own dreams, and together, they explore the town and their own very conflicted emotions. Columbus evokes the feelings encountered during the loss of a loved one, and the confusion one can feel when entering/neglecting to enter a new stage in life. Additionally, the film contains everything you could want from an indie movie and is very well done. It was written and directed by Kogonada. 


Frances Ha (2012) – 92%

This movie is all about the misguided and terrifying joy that is living in your twenties. Twenty-seven year old Frances lives in New York and is trying to make it in life as a dancer, while she relies heavily on her friends for guidance. These characters are trying to figure out who they are and become ‘real people’, while leaning on each other for support. It’s a film about best friends, entering the real world, trying to make ends meet both financially and socially, and ultimately about the strong friendships that keep us all afloat. Frances Ha was written by Gretta Gerwig and directed by Noah Baumbach.


Short Term 12 (2008)- 98%

Grace, a young counsellor at a care unit for at-risk teens in a foster setting, is calm and competent in her very difficult job. However, she begins to slip as she is reminded of her own past abuses when a young girl, abused by her father, enters the facility. She tries to navigate that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. Short Term 12 displays the foster care system for abused and at-risk children in a brilliant and disturbing light. It is beautifully difficult to watch, but is a film that should be seen by all. This movie is by far my favorite film on this list. It was written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.


Ingrid Goes West (2017) – 86%

Following the death of her mother and a series of life struggles, Ingrid escapes her own life by going west to befriend her Instagram obsession, Taylor. After becoming unlikely close friends, their true lives begin to bubble to the surface and the results are hilariously strange. A witty film about the dangers of social media usage and addiction, Ingrid Goes West is very creative and incredibly funny. I highly recommend this film to any Aubrey Plaza fans out there. Written by David Branson Smith and directed by Matt Spicer. 


The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) – 80%

A motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robber is put on a collision course with a police officer in a department under the rule of a corrupt detective. The two men must deal with the unforeseen consequences of their actions while doing anything they can to provide for their families. The film is about fatherhood, the difficulties of being the breadwinner of the house, and the impact that (not) having a father figure in the home can leave on a child’s life. Incredible performances are given by everyone in this film, and it is wildly eye-opening. The film was written by Ben Coccio and Darius Marder and directed by Derek Cianfrance. 


Don’t Think Twice (2016) – 98%

When one member of a very tight knit improv group leaves to star in a television show, his friends start to realise they may never make it big in showbusiness. This film discusses the difficulties of growing apart from your closest friends, and dealing with the many changes that life and a career brings. Ironically enough, this movie is a drama about comedians; it is very unique and definitely worth watching. It was written and directed by Mike Birbiglia.


We the Animals (2018) – 93%

 This beautifully heartbreaking film is about three brothers shaped by the abusive relationship shared by their parents. Due to this domestic violence, the brothers, Manny, Joel, and Jonah, are often left to fend for themselves. Manny and Joel eventually harden and grow into versions of their father while Jonah acquires a growing need for escape and learns to embrace a world all his own. This movie illustrates the difficult childhoods that far too many people face, and shows the lasting effects caused by an abusive environment. A very well executed film overall, We the Animals was written by Justin Torres directed by Jeremiah Zegar. 


Each of these movies are wonderful in their own way, and they are all the work of someone who cares deeply for their art. These films are all great and definitely worth watching if you have the time.



Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Ry Iverson is a transgender sociology alum of the University of Utah. He grew up in Apple Valley, California and moved to Utah to be closer to family. He enjoys listening to music, reading, cooking, drawing, traveling, and helping others. He enjoys writing about his favorite TV shows, cooking, LGBTQ experiences, and advice, and in his free time he can be found laying on the ground outside taking in the world. Enjoy Ry's articles and everything he has to offer!
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor