Noovie 9: Our Favorite Indie Movies of 2018

2018 was a great year for big movies. 2018 was a spectacularly phenomenal year for indie movies. Here are our nine favorites of the year.

Matt Lissauer

By Matt Lissauer

Indie Movies 2018 - Emma Stone in "The Favourite."

© Fox Searchlight Pictures. All rights reserved. / Courtesy Everett Collection

2018 was a great year for big movies. 2018 was a spectacularly phenomenal year for indie movies. Documentaries. Period pieces. Coming-of-age upstarts. And did we mention documentaries? If you were a fan of quality independent cinema, not only was there a lot of it at the 2018 box office, there was a lot of it that performed beyond expectations, which bodes well for discerning moviegoers headed into 2019. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, let’s recap the year that was – and our nine picks for the best independent films of 2018.

  • 1

    Roma

    Yalitza Aparicio in "Roma."

    © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Alfonso Cuarón’s vivid, autobiographical portrait of life growing up in 1970’s Mexico City and the year-long emotional journey of a domestic houseworker stands as a leading contender for Oscar glory. With everything about this film being practically perfect, it’s a travesty to think distributor Netflix would dump the movie on its streaming platform without giving it a true theatrical run -- the way it really should be seen. Netflix did listen (at least in terms of giving it a limited run), but that was likely more a way of playing nice with Academy voters. Either way, we’ll take it.

    Roma Poster

    Roma

    R

    Drama

    November 29, 2018

    Watch on

  • 2

    Eighth Grade

    Elsie Fisher in "Eighth Grade."

    © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Comedian and YouTuber Bo Burnham turned heads in 2018 with widespread acclaim for his directorial debut effort. Inspired by his social anxieties, the film follows eighth-grader Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) during her final week of the school year. Unlike other teen dramas, this one stands out for its realistic portrayal of the anxieties of growing up while showing youth culture in an authentic, non-pandering way.

    Eighth Grade Poster

    Eighth Grade

    R

    Comedy Drama

    August 3, 2018

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  • 3

    The Favourite

    Olivia Colman in "The Favourite."

    © Fox Searchlight Pictures. All rights reserved. / Courtesy Everett Collection

    2018 saw several movies that completely upended genre expectations. None were bolder than Yorgos Lanthimos' period piece about the inner-politics of Eighteenth Century Britain, and two cousins (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) vying for the position of court favourite with Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). It wasn't your typical prim and proper royal costume drama with a cutting sense of humor, rich interplay, and striking cinematography. It might also not be completely historically accurate. But don't let that stop you from experiencing some of the best acting of the year.

    The Favourite Poster

    The Favourite

    R

    Drama

    November 23, 2018

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  • 4

    Won't You Be My Neighbor?

    Jeff Erlanger and Mister Rodgers on a TV broadcast - scene from "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

    © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

    For documentary filmmaking, 2018 was a banner year full of commercial and critical hits. Four docs released over the summer found huge success at the box office, but of those, the most-watched and talked about was Morgan Neville's profile of beloved children's TV host Fred Rogers. The film tugged at the nostalgic heartstrings, earning high praise and an impressive $22.6M (the highest gross ever for a biographical doc). Mr. Rogers will continue to remain in the public consciousness through 2019 (did he ever leave?), as a biopic will debut this fall, starring Tom Hanks as the TV personality.

    Won't You Be My Neighbor? Poster

    Won't You Be My Neighbor?

    PG-13

    Documentary

    June 29, 2018

    Watch on

  • 5

    Blaze

    Ben Dickey and Charlie Sexton in "Blaze."

    © Sundance Selects / Courtesy Everett Collection

    While “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Rami Malek’s spot-on portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury won the accolades at the Golden Globes, earlier in 2018, Ethan Hawke made his directorial debut with an equally amazing musical biopic. Starring newcomer Ben Dickey as country music legend Blaze Foley, “Blaze” burns new genre ground, looking at three facets of Foley’s life: his love affair with Sybil (Alia Shawkat), his last night on Earth, and his legend post-death.

    Blaze Poster

    Blaze

    R

    Drama

    August 17, 2018

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  • 6

    Support the Girls

    Regina Hall in "Support the Girls."

    © Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    On the surface, a film following the exploits of the staff of a Hooters-type sports bar sounds like the type of romp that should come with the National Lampoon brand. This is not that kind of film. Instead, what you get is a down-to-earth, layered look at the lives of complex characters, seen through the eyes of manager Lisa (Regina Hall). Writer and director Andrew Bujalski cuts through the superficiality and showcases who these women truly are -- people. These people put up with a ton of crap every day but do it to earn a decent wage.

    Support the Girls Poster

    Support the Girls

    R

    Comedy

    August 24, 2018

    Watch on

  • 7

    Sorry to Bother You

    Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield in "Sorry to Bother You."

    © Annapurna Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Down and out, Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) lands a job at a telemarketing company and soon learns that the pathway to success lies in disguising his “black” voice for a “white” one. The first theatrical effort from rapper Boots Riley is a mashup of dark comedy, science fiction and fantasy, which delivers hilarious and timely commentary on race and capitalism.

    Sorry to Bother You Poster

    Sorry to Bother You

    R

    Comedy

    July 13, 2018

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  • 8

    Hereditary

    Toni Collette in "Hereditary."

    © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

    When the family matriarch passes away, her daughter and the rest of the family start to unravel a web of dark secrets about their troubled past. What lies ahead is a slow burn of supernatural thrills set against raw family drama and paranoia. Toni Collette’s intense performance as a grieving daughter and mother shines, alongside strong performances from Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne and newcomer Milly Shapiro.

    Hereditary Poster

    Hereditary

    R

    Horror

    June 8, 2018

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  • 9

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    Tim Blake Nelson in "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs."

    © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    This is probably the closest thing we’ll get to any form of episodic content from the Coen Brothers. Wonderfully written and beautifully shot, “Ballad” plays as a series of unfortunate Western vignettes featuring a Roy-Rogers-type gunslinger, a bank robber, an amputee thespian and his stagehand, an old prospector, a widowed frontierswoman, and a pair of perverse bounty hunters. It’s the kind of movie that plays to the best parts of binge-watching -- as soon as a story feels like it’s run its course, it’s over, and we’re on to the next.

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Poster

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    R

    Western

    November 16, 2018

    Watch on

Matt Lissauer

Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.

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