Noovie's Alt. Movies: 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' and Other Gems

Here's the latest on what's new, what's next, and what you should watch this weekend from across the indie scene. Stay safe out there!

By Matt Lissauer

Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis and Colman Domingo in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

© Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Run, don't walk, into 2021 with these fresh, lo-fi movie picks that you can watch right now.

  • Noovie's Alt. Movie Pick: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    © Netflix

    As we featured in November, when it hit select theaters, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" follows a group of musicians who gather to record songs for the legendary blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis). Tensions rise over the course of the afternoon as they await her appearance, but will all that tension turn into something beautiful and powerful or something more chaotic? Based on August Wilson's play of the same name, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" features a final performance from the late Chadwick Boseman that's on par to be just as legendary as the blues singer this film is about. There is talk already of a posthumous Oscar for Boseman. If so, this would turn into quite the coincidence as the last person to be posthumously nominated for an Oscar was "Ma Rainey's" playwright Wilson, for the film adaptation of "Fences." (Not to mention the last actor being posthumously awarded an Oscar being Heath Ledger for his role in a critically acclaimed comic book movie, "The Dark Knight.")

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Drama / 2020 / R

Tensions rise when trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band gather at a recording studio in Chicago in 1927.

  • Greenland

    © STX Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

    A man (Gerard Butler) and his estranged wife (Morena Baccarin) and son (Roger Dale Floyd) seek refuge where they can as a comet hurles towards the Earth, in this disaster thriller from Ric Roman Waugh ("Angel Has Fallen"). A strong emotional core seeks to elevate this from the usual trope-laden disaster pic, and its B-movie senibility might prove a worthy popcorn escape for all of us trapped in our homes.

Greenland

Thriller / 2020 / PG-13

John Garrity, his estranged wife and their young son embark on a perilous journey to find sanctuary as a planet-killing comet hurtles toward Earth. Amid terrifying accounts of cities getting leveled, the Garrity's experience the best and worst in humanity. As the countdown to the global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

  • The Last Blockbuster

    © 1091 / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Back in the '90s our weekly Alt. Movies feature would probably just be a "staff picks" stand next to the cash registers at the local Blockbuster. For those that remember, Blockbuster was the place to go every weekend night to find a movie to watch. With the advent of streaming and digital downloads, we lost a little bit of the fun of discovery by wandering aisels and picking movies based on their VHS (and later DVD) covers. But, all is not completely lost, as in Bend, Oregon the last remaining Blockbuster stands. No longer tied to corporate, and probably not connected to the famously infamous lone Blockbuster Twitter account, filmmaker Taylor Morden takes us behind the scenes as store manager Sandi Harding tries to keep the store open amid changing and challenging times.

The Last Blockbuster

Documentary / 2020

The manager of the last Blockbuster video store struggles to keep the store open.

  • Audrey

    © Good Deed Entertainment

    Filmmaker Helena Coan explores the remarkable life of Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn. While the doc might not get overly insightful, you'll at least learn a bit more about her life's work and journey as not just a star, but also as a humanitarian.

    • Where to watch: In select theaters

Audrey

Documentary / 2020

Filmmaker Helena Coan examines the remarkable life and career of actress, fashion icon and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn.

  • Farewell Amor

    © IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

    After spending 17 years apart, an Angolan woman, Esther (Zainab Jah), and her daughter Sylvia (Jayme Lawson) reunite with her husband Walter (Ntare Mwine), who has been living his life in exile in Brooklyn. Now strangers in a strange land, Esther and Sylvia struggle to figure out just how much Walter's life has changed from the man they once had known. "Farewell Amore" premiered to critical praise at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Farewell Amor

Drama / 2020

An Angolan woman and her daughter reunite with her husband after spending 17 years in exile. Now strangers, they find common ground in their shared love of dance.

  • Hot Indie Trailer: Nomadland

    © Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Featuring a stark and raw performance from Frances McDormand, Chloe Zhao's "Nomadland" has been receiving nothing but critical praise since its debut at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals earlier in the year. In fact, just today the film picked up another accolade, with Zhao receiving the Best Director award from the illustrious New York Film Critics' Circle; and more awards could probably come in for the film as the NY critics' virtual vote is still ongoing at press time. All in all, "Nomadland" will surely be one film to keep on your radar as the 2020 awards race heats up.

    • In expanded release February 19

Nomadland

Drama / 2020 / R

A woman embarks on a journey through the American West after losing everything during the recession.

About the Author

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.

More from Matt Lissauer

Advertisement