The Weekender is a special collaboration between OZY Tribe members near and far to provide delicious recommendations for your valuable weekend time.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
I love the underdog. And when it comes to film, independent movies are hidden gems that just need a little polish to shine next to those big-studio blockbusters. Ahead of this year’s Oscars, we’re giving you some of the best indies over the past couple of years, from gritty coming-of-age dramas to wickedly smart comedies and social commentaries. Here are the Oscar-worthy indies that you should binge.
Set in New York City, this critically acclaimed comedy is about a down-on-her-luck playwright who thinks the only way to salvage her creative voice is to become a rapper at 40 years old. She evolves from sticking out like a sore thumb and begging producers to take her seriously to rocking out stages in a film about trying new things, not giving up on yourself and defying ageism.
Everyone wants to be a kajillionaire. That’s what capitalism is all about anyway, right? That’s the message this con artist couple have been teaching their daughter the past 26 years. Part comedy, part satire, this indie film follows an eccentric and dysfunctional family’s swindling, scamming and stealing in a story that asks what place family bonds have in the world today.
3. Another Round
Four high school teachers rely on some (dubious?) philosophy to embark on an experiment: What if each of them drank enough each day to let go of the fears and inhibitions holding them back? This brilliant Danish comedy explores how a daily dip into the barrel begins affecting their social and professional lives while teaching them profound personal lessons. While playful, the movie also has depth, touching on depression, divorce and alcoholism along the way.
Part psychological drama, part dark comedy, this film is an eerie watch. It follows a house-hunting couple in search of the perfect home. Upon finding it, though, they instead discover a nightmarish suburban hell. Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, the surreal sci-fi plays out like an episode of Black Mirror with an entertaining look at why nothing is what it seems.
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Jacob Yi moves his reluctant wife Monica and kids from California to Arkansas in search of a new start and the American Dream. But upon arriving at their farm, they instead encounter unimaginable difficulties. They struggle to fit in as foreigners in the rural South, and face off against the forces of nature threatening both their crop and their livelihoods. The Korean couple, with son and grandmother in tow, are each tested in a stunningly intimate family portrait. In the end, they find an American dream: one that defies expectation.
When her husband dies and their rural Nevada town is rocked by economic turmoil, Fern (played by Frances McDormand) decides to journey through the American West as a nomad. Based on the 2017 nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, this indie flick shows how Fern adapts to life on the road and features a number of actual nomads — Linda May, Charlene Swankie and Bob Wells — playing fictionalized versions of themselves as Fern’s mentors and companions. This Oscar-buzzing film transcends the conversation around homelessness to explore how a sexagenarian finds herself after losing it all.
This coming-of-age drama follows an East London teenager who must take care of herself and her younger brother after their depression-prone mother abandons them to “clear her head.” Both heart-jerking and life-affirming, Rocks depicts the hardscrabble reality many Londoners face bustling between friends’ houses and cheap hotels while staving off homelessness. Trying to maintain the appearance of normalcy, their struggle at times seems hopeless. But in the end, the siblings discover the nature and depth of true friendship.
Sylwia Zajac is the latest fitness revelation. Beautiful, young, talented and touting a massive social media following, she appears to be living the ideal life. But this utopian existence comes crashing down once the truth about her lonely, superficial existence is revealed with the appearance of a crazed stalker. This Polish-Swedish psychological drama is just as much about the dark side of social media as it is about the meaning of true intimacy.
Milla is madly in love with Moses. He’s free-spirited, has the coolest rat tail in town and seems to genuinely dig her. The challenge? She’s deathly ill and her parents are traditionalists to the core. From Australian director Shannon Murphy, this tale defies the genre’s norms with its vibrant personalities. The film is about young love and how Milla’s rebellion ends up being everything her parents didn’t think it’d be.
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While movie theaters are opening up, you can’t beat making the feeling come alive at home. Perfecting your at-home watching experience can start small: This pocket projector is unbelievably compact yet it projects media in large-screen format up to 120 inches. Pair it with this versatile indoor-outdoor projector screen from Bed Bath & Beyond to make your backyard or basement the most popular venue in the neighborhood.
2. Pop That Popcorn
So who else misses popcorn? This machine will give you the nostalgia of the movie theaters … except you won’t have to keep asking for more butter. It makes up to 7.5 gallons of popcorn per batch, has a heated warming deck to keep the popcorn piping hot and an antique carnival design to bring the vibe alive.
3. Find Your Ambiance
Last but not least, you can control the mood with these light strips from Philips. The best party trick? Showing off as varied hues dance to the content on your screen.
She was called the Mother of the Blues. And now this indie film gives Ma Rainey her proper due, digging deep into the early 20th century Southern singer’s career and life. She squared off against white management at a legendary recording studio in Chicago and revolutionized blues music from behind the mic. Streaming on Netflix, the star-studded cast includes Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in his last on-screen performance.
A world-famous concert pianist finds himself struggling with stage fright and sadness late in his career after his wife passes away. Noticing his panic attacks, his agent hires the only person who can still put a fire under him: a New Yorker reporter who was once his fiercest critic. Starring Patrick Stewart and Katie Holmes, this film connects art and grief while touching on trauma and mental illness.
3. About Endlessness
A father, stopping to tie his daughter’s shoe in the pouring rain. Teenage girls, innocently dancing outside a cafe. A priest in despair after having lost his faith. Accompanied by gripping visuals set to the score of soft classical music, this 2019 film is about the beauty and cruelty of life. Set in war-torn Europe, this work by director Roy Andersson gently guides viewers through seemingly inconsequential moments against a backdrop of historical events, laying bare the vulnerability of existence.
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