Marvel Studios' latest superhero brawl, Captain America: Civil War, was exciting and all, but it was clearly missing someone: Bruce Banner, a.k.a. The Hulk, who has once again retired into the shadows of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans have been hoping for Planet Hulk to make it onto the big screen, but it looks like the closest we'll get — if we even get that storyline at all — is a nod in Thor: Ragnarok.
But if you're just in need of watching Mark Ruffalo's lovable face, there's a myriad of movies in which he delivers heartwarming and stunning performances. Plus, it's a perfect way to take a break from the current superhero frenzy flooding our movie release schedule, so here are six indie movies starring Mark Ruffalo that are definitely worth checking out (as if Ruffalo's presence wasn't reason enough already).
1. You Can Count On Me, 2000
You Can Count On Me earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay and a nomination for Best Actress for Laura Linney at the 2001 Academy Awards. Linney plays Sammy Prescott, a single mom trying to make a sense of her job and her relationships, when her clumsy brother suddenly reappears in her life. Ruffalo delivers a beautiful performance, and there can only be very few people that this simple story won't resonate with.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95%
2. The Kids Are All Right, 2010
I'm surprised I skipped this movie when it came out in theaters a few years ago, because it looks like it has all the ingredients a good comedy-drama needs — and a fantastic cast to boot. Starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), The Kids Are All Right is about a lesbian couple whose two children decided to meet the one sperm donor that brought them to life. Of course, the biological father's arrival throws the whole family off balance.
A truly modern take on family comedies, the movie was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy category, while Annette Bening won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. It was also nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93%
3. Begin Again, 2014
Pay no mind to the questionable comments made by director John Carney apropos his lead actress in Begin Again: Keira Knightley delivers a touching performance as a shy but emotional singer, discovered in a bar by a fallen producer played by Mark Ruffalo. Together, they build the musical project they've been dreaming of, like a sort of revenge on everything else they've been struggling to figure out.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 82%
4. Foxcatcher, 2014
Foxcatcher is a chilling crime story based on the real life story of multimillionaire and wrestling coach John E. du Pont, whose recruitment of 1984 US Olympic gold medalist wrestlers Mark Schultz and his older brother Dave, two years after their win, took a turn for the worse. The performances of Steve Carrel, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, who play du Pont, Dave and Mark, respectively, have been critically acclaimed.
The movie was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it ultimately won for Best Director, earned three Golden Globe and five Academy Award nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 89%
5. Infinitely Polar Bear, 2015
Who would have thought you'd find Zoe Saldana and Mark Ruffalo together in what is definitely the opposite of a superhero movie? Mark Ruffalo's turn as a manic-depressive dad is definitely one of the most touching and profound roles he's played, and this familial tale, which was loosely based on the director's own experience, is a dream to watch.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 79%
6. Spotlight, 2015
You've probably heard of Spotlight during this year's Academy Awards, where it took home the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams star as the team of journalists at the Boston Globe who uncovered the child sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church in 2002. It's breathtaking and eye-opening in a similar way to The Big Short, which I also highly recommend despite its lack of Mark Ruffalo.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%