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Indie Spirit

10 Spirit Award-Nominated Movies You Need to Watch

See what movies win big at the 2016 Spirit Awards live this Saturday, Feb. 27th, at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: RLJ Entertainment

The 2016 Spirit Awards are fast approaching with incredibly talented actors and filmmakers gearing up for the ceremony this Saturday, February 27th, at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC. And although there are quite a few familiar nominees — like Best Feature candidates Spotlight and Carol — there are many that might’ve flown under the radar, even within indie circles.

So, in the interest of maintaining an educated moviegoing populace, here are 10 nominated movies you’ll need to binge before Saturday’s big show. (Click here to find IFC on your TV in your area. You can also stream the ceremony live this Saturday with an authenticated IFC.com account.)

1. Anomalisa

This past year, film auteur and general mindblower Charlie Kaufman did for stop-motion existentialism what Wes Anderson did for stop-motion twee with The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anomalisa injects introspection and mundane social dynamics into lifeless dolls, rendering them even more lifelike and real than most films starring actual people.


2. Tangerine

Sean Baker’s celebrated indie film is part of a new crop of films that has helped usher transgender issues into the mainstream consciousness. Starring two trans actors and revolving around LA’s sex trade industry, Tangerine filters a timeless romantic-comedy storyline through a gritty, modern lens with fantastic results.


3. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

If you’re looking for a 1970s period piece answer to Juno and Ghost World, check out The Diary of a Teenage Girl for a revealing look at the life of a high schooler. Bel Powley plays ’70s teen Minnie with an authenticity you rarely see in a coming-of-age film. It’s a buzzworthy performance from a rising star you’ll want to keep an eye on.


4. The End of the Tour

In the 20 years since its publication, David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest has amassed millions of diehard fans, countless spots on “Best of” lists and almost infinite iterations of the question “How in the hell did he pull this off?” While it’s not explicitly answered in The End of the Tour, the character study attempts to thin the myth and mystique that shrouds the late author by way of a moving and humorous road trip/interview with Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg).


5. James White

Sporting a powerhouse ensemble that includes Christopher Abbott (Girls), Cynthia Nixon, Ron Livingston, and Comedy Bang! Bang!‘s former bandleader Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, James White follows a self-destructive, pleasure-seeking twentysomething (is there any other kind?) who faces a reality check when his mother’s health declines from a terminal illness.


6. Bone Tomahawk

With The Revenant and The Hateful Eight, 2015 brought a double-roundhouse kick of relentless frontier hardship, but both movies somehow failed to incorporate cave-dwelling cannibals into the story. Extending the use of that shaggy ‘stache, Kurt Russell plays Sheriff Franklin Hunt who assembles a ragtag Old West posse to track down a mysterious breed of indigenous barbarians. Bloody, brutal, and loads of fun.


7. Meadowland

Parents of young children may wanna skip this one, but gluttons for complex psychological studies should set aside some time to power through Meadowland — a brilliant, powerful, and unflinching glimpse at a couple who lost a child. Overwhelmed with remorse, the couple descends into dangerous behavior and self-destruction. Steel yourself and strap in.


8. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Eschewing a traditional three-act plot, Swedish writer-director Roy Andersson tackles facets of the human condition through multiple tableaus in the marquee-depleting A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. A unifying thread links the otherwise disparate scenes, creating a cohesive and universally relatable cinematic experience.


9. (T)error

At a time when “If you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide” has become the mantra of counterterrorism, a documentary like (T)error is required viewing. An unsettling glimpse at the increasingly draconian tactics taken by our government, the movie centers on a 63-year-old FBI informant and reveals how our civil liberties are under threat by an overzealous and unchecked surveillance state.


10. 99 Homes

In the spirit of Adam McKay’s dispiriting dramedy The Big Short, the 2008 housing crash also sets the backdrop for 99 Homes, which focuses on a family’s struggle to reclaim their home amidst financial troubles. Michael Shannon earned raves for playing a soulless real estate broker and redefining what it means to be a modern-day villain we can all root against.

Click here to watch clips from the nominated movies and get cohosts Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani’s takes on what they’re really about.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…