No doubt about it, going to indie films is cool. In every sense of the word.
And while summer may be officially over, for many the heat is so not. That's why you should check out one of these smaller flicks at your local theater and soak up some of that air-conditioned goodness while you're at it.
These independently financed films span a wide range of topics and settings: youth centers, the competitive world of voice-over, a geek idol, an endless array of Jane Austen nuts, the joy of painting a lonesome Texas road and a '90s-style sex comedy!
Our picks of must-see indies to add to your to-do list:
1. Short Term 12:: Grace (Brie Larson) is a 20-something supervising staffer at a foster-care facility for at-risk teens. Orange is the New Black: The Teen Years is a good place to start for easily one of the year's best films. Avoiding the pitfalls of "a very special Lifetime movie" vibe, writer-director Destin Cretton delivers an emotionally honest yet sometimes funny take on what it means to truly look out for someone. The film opens with staffers like Mason (The Newsroom's John Gallagher, Jr.) swapping grin-inducing stories of run-ins with the kids in their care. Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing) will make you lose it though. Playing a 16-year old with heavy emotional scars, she tells the saddest tale about a cute octopus. Ever. See this film ASAP.
2. Drinking Buddies: Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson (New Girl) are co-workers at a Chicago microbrewery and the titular beer buds whose significant others are Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick. The script is loose, never flat, and brimming with insight on the perils of friendship "and more" by way of being a modern hipster. Wilde's best role to date. Look for a quick cameo by her real life man, Jason Sudeikis.
3. Prince Avalanche: Filmmaker David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) gets back to his reflective, grounded roots with a story of two men (a sturdy Paul Rudd, a heavier-looking Emile Hirsch) who spend weeks maintaining a road hardly anyone ever uses in rural Texas. Rudd is the senior, Hirsch the youngish layabout. Wildly funny with a healthy dose of equal opportunity resentment, this unusual road flick is mostly just two guys swapping stories. And both dudes' tales are worth a listen.
Speaking of listening…
4. In A World: Lake Bell (Children's Hospital) is a triple threat—writing, directing and starring in this witty, hilarious Hollywood comedy about the cutthroat world of movie-trailers voiceovers. Carol (Bell) is a vocal coach who dreams of being heard. She gets her chance when the producer of a Hunger Games-type series considers using a woman's voice as opposed to the deep, booming, authoritative, über-male ones that real life voiceover guys like Don LaFontaine made the standard. Her main competition for the gig happens to be the guy she's sleeping with: Gustav (always funny Ken Marino). Carol's dad (Fred Melamed), big in every way as legend in the biz, is the other.
5. jOBS: The story of how the cofounder of Apple rose then fell then rose again is widely known and has been done before ('90s cheese fest Pirates of Silicon Valley). The surprise is Ashton Kutcher, whose portrayal of Steve Jobs displays a side of the actor rarely seen: confident, bold and…smart. The cocky jerk part we've seen before though.
6.The To-Do List: Aubrey Plaza tones down the eye-rolls as an academic overachiever who aims at crossing-off kissing, heavy petting and her virginity before she enters her freshman year of college. Set in '93 with doodled Trapper Keepers, awkward swimwear and "Let's Talk About Sex" on a mix tape. A sex comedy from a nerdy (but just as dirty) female was long overdue.
7. AustenLand. Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) adores everything by the Pride & Prejudice author. When she hears of a too-good-to-be-true Jane Austen theme park in England, she empties her bank account and leaves America for the ultimate Chic Lit Experience. Jane Seymour runs the place, while Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King latch on to their own Austen hunks. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's first foray into film producing shows that all those Twilight conventions taught the author a thing or two about fandom.