Indie films can be a bit of a gamble for the avid Netflixer. Fortunately, the Thresher has done some of the grunt work for you in sorting through the Netflix filler to find some high-caliber (or at least highly entertaining) titles to fill your beginning-of-the-semester free time. If you’re tired of watching Mean Girls or Friends reruns for the umpteenth time, check out these obscure yet worthy picks.  

For the jokester:

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Prince Avalanche (2013):

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star in ... need I say more? Catch these two veteran actors as they set off into the Texan wilderness to repair a road in the summer of 1988. Though the film may plod along at first, the quick dialogue, quirky characters and unusual setting create a hilarious, curious and strangely touching story. 

Courtesy IFC Films | Frances Ha
Courtesy Music Box Films | Keep the Lights On
Courtesy Magnolia Pictures | Prince Avalanche
Courtesy Open Roads Films | Side Effects
Courtesy IFC Films | Sleepwalk with Me

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Sleepwalk with Me (2012):

Mike Birbiglia is a one-of-a-kind comic and character. In a live show he once described himself as “niche,” but his jokes rival anything Louie C.K. might say (and I am a fan) while keeping offense and crudeness to a minimum. Sleepwalk with Me is a strange biopic that juggles Birbiglia’s struggle with REM sleep behavior disorder, his career as a stand-up comedian and his relationship with his girlfriend. 

For the hopeless romantic: 

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Frances Ha (2012):

Frances, or “Frances, undateable,” as her roommate calls her, is a 20-something aspiring dancer, whose questionably stable personal life and career don’t stop her from embracing a youthful carpe diem spirit. Starring Greta Gerwig, this black-and-white unconventional rom-com provides solace for those passionate yet unsure of where their future may lead. 

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Copenhagen (2014)

A washed-up millennial takes a trip with his college buddy to Europe, only to be ditched for a girlfriend. Bored and wandering the streets of Copenhagen, William (Gethin Anthony, Game of Thrones) meets a young girl who forces him to come to terms with his age and maturity. Copenhagen is not for the indie-fainthearted, but if you can get past the strange relationship dynamic, this film has a lot to say about the ironies of love and experience. 

For the philosopher:

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Nebraska (2013):

Nebraska isn’t exactly chock full of Hollywood eye candy, but what it lacks in youth it makes up for in superb acting and Midwestern charm. Misunderstanding a piece of mail, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) sets off with his reluctant son in tow to claim what he thinks is a lottery prize, meeting a slew of eccentric small-towners along the way. If you’re looking for a drama with a hint of the sublime, Nebraska offers unique perspectives on aging, morality and the ties that bind. 

For the lonely and angsty: 

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Keep the Lights On (2012):

While Keep the Lights On won’t exactly lift your spirits, you may at least find solidarity in others’ sadness. This film chronicles the relationship between a gay filmmaker and his lover as they struggle with substance abuse, distance and the accompanying perils of complex desire. No promises of a kumbaya ending here, but if you’re looking for a no-BS chronicle of a relationship, this film is your friend. 

For the thrill-seeker:

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Side Effects (2013):

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Side Effects is a rare psychological crime thriller in a world of comedy and drama. You may even recognize some familiar faces with the acting of Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Jude Law. Like any good thriller, Side Effects earns the trust of its audiences only to revoke its promises at the last second.