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The Best Reviewed Indie Films of the Summer (And Where To Find Them)

The Best Reviewed Indie Films of the Summer (And Where To Find Them)

Summer is finally winding down this week, that glorious time of year when the weather is warm and the sun is shining and film nerds desperately avoid both by hiding in movie theaters like the light-sensitive Morlocks from H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine.” The majority of summer movie coverage is about the blockbusters, but there have been some truly outstanding independent films released in the last couple months. A couple have crossed over to the mainstream; most have remained underground (also like the Morlocks from H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” which I may or may not be rereading right now).

As we move into awards season, it seems like a good time to look back and recognize the most critically acclaimed indies of summer — and to help people find the ones they might have missed. Below are the ten best reviewed independent films of summer 2012 according to critics who regularly submit grades to Criticwire. Our invaluable assistant editor Steve Greene tracked every indie released between Memorial and Labor Days, averaged out their letter grades, and arrived at this ranking. Just to keep things fair, we only considered titles with more than 10 reviews. A smattering of praise does not a “best reviewed movie” make.

Each of the ten entries below include a brief synopsis and a link to where you can find that particular title in theaters, or on VOD or DVD. If you’ve been gorging yourself on movie junk food for the past few months, here’s where you should start your cinematic diet. And for God’s sake, go outside and get some sun before the weather gets too cold — you’re looking really pale.

The Ten Best Reviewed Indie Movies of Summer 2012, According to the Members of Criticwire

1. “The Invisible War
Director: Kirby Dick
Criticwire Rating: A- (16 reviews)
Synopsis: “An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.”
Where to See it: In Limited Release (Playdates)

2. “Side By Side
Director: Chris Kenneally
Criticwire Rating: B+ (19 reviews)
Synopsis: “‘Side By Side’ explores both the science behind the development of digital cinema technology as well as its effects. At this historical juncture, in which digital and analogue technologies still exist side by side, the film investigates the pros and cons of digital filmmaking.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release and on VOD (Playdates)

3. “The Imposter
Director: Bart Layton
Criticwire Rating: B+ (29 reviews)
Synopsis: “In 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappears from his home in San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is found alive thousands of miles away in Spain with a shocking story of kidnap and torture. But all is not what it seems in this tale that is truly stranger than fiction.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release (Playdates)

4. “5 Broken Cameras
Director: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
Criticwire Rating: B+ (15 reviews)
Synopsis: “A Palestinian journalist chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land and in the process captures his young son’s lens on the world.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release (Playdates)

5. “Searching For Sugar Man
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Criticwire Rating: B+ (27 reviews)
Synopsis: “Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion — rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release (Playdates)

6. “Oslo, August 31st
Director: Joachim Trier
Criticwire Rating: B+ (39 reviews)
Synopsis: “Anders will soon complete his drug rehabilitation in the countryside. As part of the program, he is allowed to go into the city for a job interview. But he takes advantage of the leave and stays on in the city, drifting around, meeting people he hasn’t seen in a long while.”
Where to See It: Coming to DVD on September 18th.

7. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Director: Alison Klayman
Criticwire Rating: B+ (23 reviews)
Synopsis: “Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release

8. “Beasts of the Southern Wild
Director: Benh Zeitlin
Criticwire Rating: B+ (70 reviews)
Synopsis: “Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release (Playdates)

9. “Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anderson
Criticwire Rating: B+ (70 reviews)
Synopsis: “Set in the 1960s, a pair of young lovers flee their New England island town, prompting a local search party led by the Sheriff and the girl’s parents to fan out to find them.”
Where to See It: In Limited Release (Playdates)

10. “Teddy Bear
Director: Mads Matthiesen
Criticwire Rating: B+ (15 reviews)
Synopsis: “In the opening moments of ‘Teddy Bear,’ a colossal, laconic man tries and fails, over shrimp cocktail, to make small talk with his date. Such is the fascinating paradox of Dennis, a champion bodybuilder whose impressive physical prowess does not defeat his social discomfort or solitude. In Thailand, amid sex tourists, monolithic hotels, and local gym rats, Dennis begins to overcome his fears and personal limitations.”
Where to See It: Currently Play in New York and Miami (Playdates)

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