While big-budget films tend to steal the limelight when it comes to popular summer movies, we have to admit that we were partial to the indie sleeper hits this season. Although we're definitely not implying that you skip seeing the dazzling Singapore-set Crazy Rich Asians or the thrilling woman-led Oceans 8, we are suggesting that you update your watchlist to include these underrated films too.
Ranging from a poignant portrayal of motherhood that offers an honest look at postpartum depression to a hilarious woman-led Western that turns the trope of the damsel in distress on its head, these are the 13 under-the-radar indie summer movies of 2018 that you probably missed and should stream this fall. Ready to pop some popcorn? Keep scrolling to find out which underrated summer movies are actually worth your time.
Tully (May 4)
Starring Charlize Theron as Marlo, a mother of three suffering from postpartum depression, Tully "is a daring, and baffling, look at motherhood," according to The Atlantic. From the duo behind indie darling Juno, this is a film with humor and heart that you won't want to skip.
The Day After (May 11)
Renowned Southern Korean director Hong Sang-soo's latest film tackles the topic of infidelity in the amusingly bittersweet The Day After, in which a book publisher's marriage and career are in turmoil after having an affair with his assistant. "Shot in chilly, silky digital black and white, it plays with chronology in a way that seems both casual and musically precise," observes A.O. Scott, chief film critic for The New York Times.
On the Seventh Day (En El Séptimo Día) (June 8)
Centered around a community of undocumented immigrants, En El Séptimo Día zeros in on a hardworking man trying to balance his pursuit of a better life with his desire to maintain his dignity. "The movie should be required viewing for every politician in America," writes Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. "It's a gentle but clear-eyed reminder of the way things are, for so very many of us."
Damsel (June 22)
Damsel is a refreshing Western that turns the damsel-in-distress trope on its head, with Mia Wasikowska starring as a woman who doesn't need saving. "Damsel owes just as much to the absurdist tone of the Coen brothers, possessing the same visual and verbal japery and, occasionally, absurdism for its own wearyingly ridiculous sake," writes movie critic Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post.
Eighth Grade (August 3)
While Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird portrays a confident teenager, Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade depicts a preteen grappling with all the insecurities of adolescence. "In addition to its queasy verisimilitude, Eighth Grade offers acute observations on how social media and the language of self-care have warped teen life," writes Naomi Fry in The New Yorker.
Leave No Trace (June 29)
From the director of Winter's Bone, Leave No Trace focuses on a father and daughter who have live off the grid in the Oregon wilderness until their idyllic existence is shattered. "The director Debra Granik has a gift for cinematic spaces that are vibrantly, palpably alive, and for putting you in places, whether modest homes or the great outdoors, that make you feel as if you're standing right alongside her characters," writes Manohla Dargis, co-chief film critic for The New York Times.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (August 3)
Starring Chloë Grace Moretz as the titular character, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming-of-age story that delves into the subject of sexual orientation with both heart and humor. It's "a sweet indie film in the tradition of John Hughes," according to the New York Post. "Calmly directed by Desiree Akhavan, the movie doesn't get tangled in the weeds of politics, but instead focuses intensely on its lovely characters."
On Chesil Beach (August 7)
Adapted from Ian McEwan's best-selling novel, On Chesil Beach centers around a newlywed couple struggling to consummate their marriage amid the societal pressures of the 1960s. "The filmmakers and their charmingly sympathetic leads leave us with a picture of connubial needs and desires which, while maybe improbable, conjures up all the absorbing wistfulness of a classic weepie," according to The Boston Globe.
Madeline's Madeline (August 10)
A film that was six years in the making, Madeline's Madeline is a surreal coming-of-age story about a teenager in a prestigious physical theater troupe who's forced to confront her troubled history with her mother for the sake of art. "The film is anchored at every turn by newcomer Helena Howard's big, brash and brilliant lead performance," writes Andrew Lapin in NPR.
Skate Kitchen (August 10)
Skate Kitchen is a coming-of-age film about a group of female skateboarders that explores the experience of young women navigating a male-dominated space. The film "is a touching ode to the rewards and challenges of female friendship," according to Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang.
We the Animals (August 17)
Based on the under-200 page novel written by Justin Torres, We the Animals tells the story of three brothers coming of age in a volatile but loving household. "Every once in a while a movie grabs you, unsuspecting, and hustles its way into your heart," writes The Wall Street Journal's movie critic Joe Morgenstern. "Jeremiah Zagar's We the Animals does that," he asserts.
Support the Girls (August 24)
Set in a Hooters-esque "sports bar with curves," Support the Girls follows the lives of the women who work there and confronts the poignant topic of institutional sexism, racism, and classism. This movie "somehow manages to do it all, and in the form of a breezy, heartwarming workplace comedy to boot," writes David Sims in The Atlantic. "There won't be another film like it this year."
RBG (August 28)
This biographical documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg explores the 84-year-old's exceptional career and her unique personal journey. In RBG, "We learn just how deep Ginsburg's contributions were in the decades before she became a meme, writes Sheelah Kolhatkar in The New Yorker. "I left the theatre informed, inspired, and eager to go to sleep at a normal hour."
Looking for more movies to watch? Subscribe to our newsletter to have our latest recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.