Often when people say a movie has no plot, they mean that it’s character-driven. That’s why if it sounds like an insult when someone complains about lack of plot, it probably means that just don’t like character studies or weren’t in the mood for one.
I once wrote about this exact thing in an article, and a cinephile friend messaged me back saying: “the best way to get me to watch a movie is to tell me it has no plot”.
I couldn’t agree more. And as writer Patrice Nganang put it: “there are stories that simply do not need a plot.” Some worldwide favorites didn’t have a plot as part of their structure. Notably: The Tree of Life, Dazed & Confused, Breakfast Club, Napoleon Dynamite, Big Lebowski, Garden State, Burn After Reading and Lost in Translation. More recently, Her, Youth, and A Separation have become great examples. See, the plot thickens…
Terrible puns aside, plot is rarely an indicator of quality (or popularity). The movies in this list are not about what happens, they’re all about the characters. I absolutely love each one of them, and I think you will too.