As Valentine's Day looks to provide some well needed cinematic levity, this week's new crop of indies focus more on true life dramas, with a touch of satire, as studios begin to put their best awards-worthy films forward. Here are our picks for the best newly available independent movies that you can watch right now.
Noovie's Alt. Movie Pick: Minari
You've been likely hearing a lot about Lee Isaac Chung's drama. Though it's been overshadowed as of late with other prime contenders, "Minari" has been a part of the Oscar conversation since its premiere at Sundance last year. Lead actor Steven Yeun and supporting actress Youn Yuh-jung have been garnering nominations for their performances, and the film itself has been named one of the best of the year from the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. An immigrant story that's distinctly American, even though its dialog is mainly in Korean, "Minari" was oddly selected for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, leading many critics to scratch their heads wondering why it was locked out of the Best Drama category.
- Where to watch: In select theaters, via A24's Screening Room (where available), on PVOD Feb. 26
Judas and the Black Messiah
As we've previously written, Shaka King's new historical drama "Judas and the Black Messiah" has already been named one of the best movies of the year and should be a prime contender for a host of Oscars, including Best Picture. Leads Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield are standouts here, with the former already up for Best Supporting Actor at the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes.
- Where to watch: In theaters and on VOD
Jodie Foster stars in this political and legal thriller about the real story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim), who was wrongfully held in Guantanamo Bay for years, and defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Foster), who took on his case to try and set him free. Similarities in title aside, "The Mauritanian'' should not be confused with Disney's "The Mandalorian." The two, though, do have an odd connection. The tortue sequence that's depicted in the movie did happen as shown. The only change the filmmakers had to make was that in real-life the perpetrators wore "Star Wars" masks. Certainly Lucasfilms wouldn't agree to that kind of licencing, so the ones in the film are more arcane and specially made.
- Where to watch: In theaters
Breaking News in Yuba County
In the middle of all these heavy dramas, director Tate Taylor provides some levity with this comedy-drama that plays like a satirical take on David Fincher's "Gone Girl." The film follows Sue Buttons (Allison Janey) who struggles to keep her story straight after killing her cheating husband and disposing of his body. And, as these stories tend to always play out, a media circus soon ensues.
Director Azazel Jacobs provides an even more surreal comedy, as we follow an almost poor widow (Michelle Pfeiffer) as she moves to Paris with her son (Lucas Hedges) and her cat. Her cat, mind you, happens to be her husband reincarnated. Before you make unfair comparisons to similar forgettable fare that is usually typical of Disney straight-to-video releases, "French Exit" excels with its screenplay from Patrick deWitt (author of the original novel, on which the movie is based) and the performance from Pfeiffer, who recently was nominated for Best Supporting Female Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards.
- Where to watch: In select theaters (AMC)
Hot Indie Trailer: Jumbo
First-time writer/director Zoé Wittock hopes to break through with this quirky romantic drama that tells of a more unique romance. Shy amusement park cleaner Jeanne (Noémie Merlant - "Portrait of a Lady on Fire") is more concerned with her set of miniatures of the rides she tends to rather than meeting someone and finding love. When a new Tilt-A-Whirl ride opens up, she becomes enamored with "Jumbo," as she calls it, taking the rapture and allure of the ride to unknown heights.
- In Virtual Cinemas Feb. 19; On VOD Mar. 16
Drama / 2020
About the Author
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.