2017 was a big year for blockbusters, with juggernauts like Star Wars: Episode VIII, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman swarming the multiplexes. Among this distraction, it’s easy to overlook some of the smaller yet no-less significant movies which earned strong reviews and hugely positive audience reactions.
Whether your taste is a little different, or you’re craving something original and out of the ordinary, here are some of the best indie films from 2017 you may have missed.
Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water writer Taylor Sheridan (also known for his role in Sons of Anarchy) both wrote and directed this exceptional thriller, curiously labelled a “neo-Western murder mystery”. The story follows a murder on a Native American reservation, with Jeremy Renner (Arrival) and Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla) leading the investigation and heading up an impressive cast. The film generated strong reviews and, despite being a low-key release, became a big box office success.
A huge hit at Sundance, this tells the story of a young female rapper who dreams of ditching her dead-end job and overcoming life’s obstacles for a shot at the big time. Balancing social commentary (and a stab at the “American Dream”) with comedy gold, it strikes the balance and tone extremely well and drew comparisons to fan favourites Hustle & Flow and 8 Mile, which also portray the struggle of a career in rap. Young star Danielle Macdonald was met with a standing ovation when she took the stage after the Sundance premiere and her performance is a must-see.
Ingrid Goes West
In this award-winning and savagely dark comedy, Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) plays Ingrid, an unstable woman who becomes infatuated with a social-media celebrity (Elizabeth Olsen, Wind River) and attempts to befriend her, obsessively! When Ingrid moves to LA, she manages to infiltrate the star’s life, unravelling a funny, twisted and a disturbingly vivid dig at our social media age.
Zoe Lister-Jones (Life in Pieces) makes her directorial debut in this quirky, highly original comedy. A married couple who are constantly at odds attempt to save their marriage by turning arguments into songs. Picking up their instruments and finding an emotional release, the film is highly charming, both poignant when it needs to be and hilarious at other times. Band Aid deserves to be seen.
A big-hearted comedy drama set in a dusty pawnbrokers in the heart of Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne. World-weary owner Les (John Brumpton, Romper Stomper) and Danny (Damian Hill, The Leftovers) watch as the lives of people who come through the doors collide and change. From blossoming romance to desperate last gambles, all these encounters represent the best and the worst of one day in the life of Melbourne’s most hopeful and mixed-up suburb. It boasts a great ensemble cast, while the award-winning soundtrack features American music legend Tom Waits who personally agreed for his music to be used in the film.
Pawno is out now on Digital Download