When Hollywood Goes Indie: 13 Underrated Gems Starring Your Favorite Movie Stars


Film lovers will know that unparalleled feeling of seeing your favorite Hollywood actor stretching their acting muscles in a character-driven role in a quiet indie movie that features them in every frame, front and center with nowhere to hide. It’s like discovering a rare vinyl LP by your favorite band in a hidden bin at the record shop. And if watching them in a blockbuster is like going to a party and fighting hordes of people for their attention, then seeing them in an indie film is like going on a one-on-one date and getting to engage in deeper conversation. If you couldn’t tell, we are really, really into films.

Sprinkled among the hordes of outstanding indie titles streaming on Topic are a handful of gems that star marquee names. Even the most avid film followers may have missed some of these, so it’s definitely worth digging through our crates. Because we don’t want to give too much away, we’ll leave you with our recommendations and one compelling reason why you should watch (besides the name power).

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“We Need to Talk About Kevin” - Stars: Tilda Swinton

Does Tilda Swinton have a devil child? And will she be able to forgive him for the unimaginable pain he’s caused?

“The Messenger” - Stars: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton

Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson bond over what is probably the hardest job in existence.

“Ma Ma” - Stars: Penelope Cruz

Hearing Penelope Cruz in her native tongue is like sultry AMSR.

“Manifesto” - Stars: Cate Blanchett

Watch queen of transformations Cate Blanchett transform into 13 very different characters, including a homeless man.

“L’Attesa” - Stars: Juliette Binoche

Imagine meeting your boyfriend’s mom and it’s Juliette Binoche. Oh and she’s keeping a massive and disturbing secret from you.

“Detachment” - Stars: Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, James Caan

This all-star cast plays the high school faculty of your dreams. We would have all done better in school if Adrien Brody was our teacher.

“Ash Wednesday” - Stars: Edward Burns, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Oliver Platt

This movie stars Edward Burns and Elijah Wood as brothers, plus there are Irish mobsters, faked deaths, and a love triangle with Rosario Dawson. What else do you need?

“Palo Alto” - Stars: Emma Roberts, James Franco, Val Kilmer, Nat Wolff

It’s the directorial debut by Gia Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s granddaughter. You already know good filmmaking runs in that family.

“Meek’s Cutoff” - Stars: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano

You’ll like this movie if you played Oregon Trail as a kid, or if you’re fascinated by the notorious and gruesome story of the Donner Party.

“Columbus” - Stars: John Cho, Rory Culkin, Parker Posey

Architecture fans will love the modernist buildings seen in the film, and everyone else will be able to relate to the complicated relationship between the two protagonists.

“Low Down” - Stars: John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Flea

Have you ever seen a more motley cast? This movie has Glenn Close, two Lannisters, and a Red Hot Chili Pepper.

“Listen Up Philip” - Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss

Jason Schwartzman plays an angry, bitter author whose career hangs in the balance. We like Schwartzman angry and in precarious situations — remember “Rushmore”?