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Top 15 Indie Films

Some of the best films that come out are indie films. These are films produced by independent film makers and they are often (though not always) low budget films. Based upon user voting at the Internet Movie Database (and a touch of my own discretion), this is a list of the top 15 Indie films of all time. I personally vouch that each and every one of these films is outstanding.

15. Requiem for a Dream 2000, Darren Aronofsky

Requiem for a Dream exposes four paralleled individuals and their menacing addiction to heroin, cocaine, and diet pills (speed). Taking place in Brooklyn amidst the waning Coney Island, the drugs are very easily obtained and keep each main character in its cycle of dependence. The protagonist Harry Goldfarb is your typical heroin junky with an ambitious plan of “Getting off hard knocks,” with help from his cocaine crazed girlfriend Marion and his long time friend Tyrone. Meanwhile his widowed mother is obsessed with the glamor of television and eventually finds her way to a dietitian who pushes her into the cycle of drug induced enslavement.

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14. Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975, Terry Gilliam

The movie starts out with Arthur, King of the Britons, looking for knights to sit with him at Camelot. He finds many knights including Sir Galahad the pure, Sir Lancelot the brave, the quiet Sir Bedevere, and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Lancelot. They do not travel on horses, but pretend they do and have their servants bang coconuts to make the sound of horse’s hooves. Through satire of certain events in history (witch trials, the black plague) they find Camelot, but after literally a quick song and dance they decide that they do not want to go there. While walking away, God (who seems to be grumpy) come to them from a cloud and tells them to find the Holy Grail. They agree and begin their search. While they search for the Grail, scenes of the knight’s tales appear and why they have the name they have. Throughout their search they meet interesting people and knights along the way. Most of the characters die; some through a killer rabbit (which they defeat with the holy hand grenade), others from not answering a question right from the bridge of Death, or die some other ridiculous way. In the end, King Arthur and Sir Bedevere are left and find the Castle Arrrghhh where the Holy Grail is. They are met by some French soldiers who taunted them earlier in the film, so they were not able to get into the castle.

13. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004, Michel Gondry

Joel is stunned to discover that his girlfriend Clementine has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he contracts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwaik, to have Clementine removed from his own memory. But as Joel’s memories progressively disappear, he begins to rediscover their earlier passion. From deep within the recesses of his brain, Joel attempts to escape the procedure. As Dr. Mierzwiak and his crew chase him through the maze of his memories, it’s clear that Joel just can’t get her out of his head.

12. To Kill A Mockingbird 1962, Robert Mulligan

An American film classic, based upon a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel: In the rural American south during the depths of the Depression, two children watch as their principled father takes a stand against intolerance. A gentle and leisurely movie despite some rough content, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ benefits immensely from its near-perfect casting, particularly of Mary Badham and Philip Alford as the children and Gregory Peck in the role for which he is best remembered, as their wise and patient father. Superb storytelling; superb film.

11. American History X 1998, Tony Kaye

Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) returns from prison to find his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), caught in the same web of racism and hatred that landed him in prison. After Derek’s father is killed in the line of duty by a minority, Derek’s view of mankind is altered, but while in prison, he discovers that there is good and bad in every race. The task before him now is to convince Danny of his newfound enlightenment.

10. Leon 1994, Luc Besson

Mathilda, a twelve-year old New York girl, is living an undesirable life among her half-family. Her father stores drugs for two-faced cop Norman Stansfield. Only her little brother keeps Mathilda from breaking apart. One day, Stansfield and his team take cruel revenge on her father for stretching the drugs a little, thus killing the whole family. Only Mathilda, who was out shopping, survives by finding shelter in Léon’s apartment in the moment of highest need. Soon, she finds out about the strange neighbor’s unusual profession – killing – and desperately seeks his help in taking revenge for her little brother. Léon, who is completely unexperienced in fatherly tasks, and in friendships, does his best to keep Mathilda out of trouble – unsuccessfully. Now, the conflict between a killer, who slowly discovers his abilities to live, to feel, to love and a corrupt police officer, who does anything in his might to get rid of an eye witness, arises to unmeasurable proportions – all for the sake of a little twelve-year old girl, who has nearly nothing to lose.

9. American Beauty 1999, Sam Mendes

Lester and Carolyn Burnham are on the outside, a perfect husband and wife, in a perfect house, in a perfect neighborhood. But inside, Lester is slipping deeper and deeper into a hopeless depression. He finally snaps when he becomes infatuated with one of his daughters friends. Meanwhile, his daughter Jane is developing a happy friendship with a shy boy-next-door named Ricky who lives with a homophobic father.

8. Se7en 1995, David Fincher

This thriller portrays the exploits of a deranged serial-killer. His twisted agenda involves choosing seven victims who represent egregious examples of transgressions of each of the Seven Deadly Sins. He then views himself as akin to the Sword of God, handing out horrific punishment to these sinners. Two cops, an experienced veteran of the streets who is about to retire and the ambitious young homicide detective hired to replace him, team up to capture the perpetrator of these gruesome killings. Unfortunately, they too become ensnared in his diabolical plan….

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7. Apocalypse Now 1979, Francis Ford Coppola

Based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, this is a controversial addition to the multitude of Vietnam war movies in existence. Set in 1969 Vietnam, we follow U.S. Special Forces Captain Willard on his mission up a river into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God among a local tribe.

6. Memento 2000, Christopher Nolan

Point blank in the head a man shoots another. In flashbacks, each one earlier in time than what we’ve just seen, the two men’s pasts unfold. Leonard, as a result of a blow to the head during an assault on his wife, has no short-term memory. He’s looking for his wife’s killer, compensating for his disability by taking Polaroids, annotating them and tattooing important facts on his body. We meet the loquacious Teddy and the seductive Natalie (a barmaid who promises to help) and we glimpse Leonard’s wife through memories from before the assault. Leonard also talks about Sammy Jankis, a man he knew with a similar condition. Has Leonard found the killer? Who’s manipulating whom?

5. Dr. Strangelove 1964, Stanley Kubrick

U.S. President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) is on the hot line to Moscow with some rather embarrassing news for the Soviet premier: “Hello, Dimitri….I’m fine….Now then, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb….The bomb, Dimitri. The hydrogen bomb….Well, now, what happened is that, uh, one of our base commanders…he went a little funny in the head….and he went and did a silly thing….He ordered his planes to attack your country.” A comedy about an accidental nuclear attack? One that ends with total annihilation, thermonuclear apocalypse? Preposterous! Stanley Kubrick thought otherwise. In the end his thinking prevailed. The mad saga revolves around a psychotic Strategic Air Command officer, Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), who lets loose his B-52 bomber squadron on the Soviet Union. Ripper takes this unilateral action because of his paranoid belief that Communists are sapping and contaminating “all our precious bodily fluids” as part of their plan to take over the world.” Unbeknownst to Ripper, his attack will trigger the Russian’s ultimate weapon, the Doomsday Machine, a diabolical retaliatory device set to blow up the planet.

4. Psycho 1960, Alfred Hitchcock

Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.

3. The Usual Suspects 1995, Bryan Singer

Following a truck hijack in New York, five conmen are arrested and brought together for questioning. As none of them is guilty, they plan a revenge operation against the police. The operation goes well, but then the influence of a legendary mastermind criminal called Kaiser Soeze is felt. It becomes clear that each one of them has wronged Soeze at some point and must pay back now. The payback job leaves 27 men dead in a boat explosion, but the real question arises now: Who actually is Kaiser Soeze?

2. Pulp Fiction 1994, Quentin Tarantino

Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega are two hitmen who are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to take his wife Mia out a few days later when Wallace himself will be out of town. Butch Coolidge is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. The lives of these seemingly unrelated people are woven together comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents.

1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975, Milos Forman

McMurphy, a man with several assault convictions to his name, finds himself in jail once again. This time, the charge is statutory rape when it turns out that his girlfriend had lied about being eighteen, and was, in fact, fifteen (or, as McMurphy puts it, “fifteen going on thirty-five”). Rather than spend his time in jail, he convinces the guards that he’s crazy enough to need psychiatric care and is sent to a hospital. He fits in frighteningly well, and his different point of view actually begins to cause some of the patients to progress. Nurse Ratched becomes his personal cross to bear as his resistance to the hospital routine gets on her nerves.

Film synopses courtesy of the Internet Movie Database

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Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • Megatron

    I think you don't quite get the distinction between old films, artistic films, and independent films. Older films like To Kill a Mockingbird and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Apocalypse also) had big premieres and were never under the radar. Independent film are those films that use a very small budget and are not under the big studio system. American Beauty does not fit this either; it is just an artistic great movie; same with Seven (although I hated it). Calling Psycho independent is like calling E.T. independent (great directors and a lot of backing from the studio system). Most independent films have been within the past 20 years when film was more widely available and cheaper (videotapes). I would say that Pulp Fiction, Swingers, Rushmore, The English Patient, etc. embody the independent film wave including others from your list. Just remember, just cause it is old does not mean independent and just cause it is artistic does not mean it is independent either. It more has to do with relatively new talent, lower budgets, smaller studio backing, and maybe a new type of film (think Being John Malkovich).

    • Kramer

      All though these are great movies, I completely agree. There are main differences.


    Great list JF, have you ever heard of Elephant?It is about a Colombine style massacre that takes place in a rural Oregon school. It is quite disturbing how they did this movie,almost makes you feel like you are there.

  • Sean the pyro

    A few of my all time favorites on there. I believe Mathilda is known as The Profesional here on the states. Great film.

  • Generic Pawel

    Ive own every single one of these…. Really great list… hit the nail on the head

  • a_marie

    This is a really good list; ive seen most of these multiple times. Most of the time independent movies are way better than big blockbuster movies anyway.

    My favs: Requiem for a dream, American history x, se7en, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, Leon, psycho, pulp fiction
    Thats almost my own top 10 list lol

  • DiscHuker

    Excellent list. I didn’t know some of these were indie. Pulp is my #1 all time with Se7en American Beauty, American History X and Cuckoo in the top 20. I like your lists so much more when i agree with them. :)

  • hmm… almost none of these are what you would normally call “independent” films… apocalypse now, for instance, had one of the biggest studio budgets of all time, and was originally released in a form that coppola thought butchered due to studio interference. usual suspects is also a hollywood movie, as are several others on the list. not that these aren’t all good movies, they’re just not really “indie” for the most part.

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  • Sheyhey

    Excellent list. Bravo! I agree with you Joe Rosson, Elephant is an amazing film. Gus Van Sant has to be one of my favorites, you should watch it Jaime!

  • Sheyhey

    Also, thank you for doing another list today. Ive been sitting at work for 8 hrs refreshing every 10 min to see if its been updated. I obviously have a very important job.

  • Megatron: you might not have seen our comments on one of the other film lists – but I despise John Malkovich – he almost made the top 10 worst actors list.

  • I had no clue AH X was an indie! Great list of movies regardless.

  • Wow, you got most of my favourite films ever in one list :) Great list JF

  • ALes

    Isn’t number 10 “Leon” also called “The Professional?”

  • Punjar

    I’ve seen all but 3 of these and they are great. Apparently Spacey is the king of indie films.

  • Hannah

    I completely agree with Megatron about the whole “independent” thing, aside from the “Being John Malkovich” comment. On John Malkovich, I’m with you Jamie! But, be warned, you are going to get a lot of beef for calling it a list about “indie films”.

  • I’ve actually seen a lot of these, contrary to most of your movie lists…Haha, and I’d have to agree. Good list.

  • ben

    wow ive seen most of these as well. Monty python and the holy grail is my favorite comedy of all time, and the life of brian is up there as well, those guys are brilliant.

  • Mathilda

    Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?

    Great list, as always. And yes, Sean the pyro and ALes, Leon was released as The Professional in the US (I know this ’cause I own it.)

    When I saw Memento, there were three old biddies behind me who apparently were not quite clear on the concept of the film. As noted, the film consists of short scenes progressing backward chronologically; each ending with the beginning of the previous scene. The women behind me did not seem to understand this as they kept complaining (loudly) about how they kept “seeing the same thing over and over again”. I thought it was a great movie, apparently they disagreed because when the film ended they stood up and booed it. I thought how that would certainly express their displeasure to the director and actors. Ya know, if they had heard them. Because, ya know, it was a film! :)

    Run away! Run away!

  • ben

    mathilda: It could be carried!

  • Mathilda

    ben – What? A swallow carrying a coconut?!

    Bring me…… a shrubbery!

  • ben

    a shrubbery? “NI!” *cringes in fear*

  • megatron: Psycho, according to Wikipedia:

    Paramount, whose contract guaranteed another film by Hitchcock, did not want Hitchcock to make Psycho. […] So Hitchcock financed the film’s creation through his own Shamley Productions, shooting at Universal Studios under the Revue television unit.

    The definition of Indie used in this list is:

    An independent film, or indie film, is usually a low-budget film that is produced by a small movie studio. Additionally, the term is used to describe less commercially-driven art films which differ markedly from the norms of plot-driven, mainstream classical Hollywood cinema. These films are often produced by subsidiaries of larger studios, such as Sony Pictures Classics, as long as less than half of its budget comes from a major movie studio.

    • chudsonnn

      this just proves him right?

  • sam

    Where’s Sex, Lies and Videotapes by Steven Soderburg? plus I didn’t see any of Coen brothers on the List!

  • bucslim

    J – good list, no real bitch here.

    Clerks anyone?

  • Yarr

    The only bitch I have, and it’s not because of the date, is that you forgot Halloween!!!

    It launched the ‘slasher’ genre of modern horror movies, spawned something like 20 sequels, and is the most profitable independent film ever!

    I’m not gonna argue with your choices, but Halloween should be on the list too…

  • Yarr

    Also, for those of you who love Requiem, check out this video. Some might consider it sacrilege, but I think it’s pretty cool.

  • Yarr: great Clip! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Mathilda

    I really liked Twin Falls Idaho, which is also appropriate for this time of year since one of the scenes takes place during a Halloween party. The main characters are conjoined twins, played by the twin brothers Mark and Michael Polish, who also wrote and directed the film. The brothers cannot normally go out in public without attracting much unwanted attention due to their physical difference, but they venture out to a Halloween party where nearly everyone believes that they are merely wearing a really good costume.

    As for ben, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies.

  • deedee0323

    Great list! Some of my favorite movies (pulp fiction, requiem, strangelove, american history x, and monty python)

  • DiscHuker

    is there a more quotable movie than holy grail? perhaps caddyshack?

    some call me…tim?

  • trebek

    No Clerks!? I take personal offense.

  • trebek: why? Did you direct it? :)

  • tony

    lost in translation
    johny darko

    im not sure if they are indy but i think so, i love indy movies and i like those alot

  • Megatron: we just have to agree to disagree – I think it meets my criteria, you don't – it is just a list so it matters not :) Your objections are on the permanent record here now for all to see.

    • Friedrich

      What are you stupid or something? Half of this list isn’t remotely “independent”, and you prefer to just shrug it off as “agree to disagree”???

      You clearly don’t understand what “independent film” means; list was a total waste of time and you’re full of hogwash. Okay, you know some great movies and have decent taste in cinema… but that’s all you got, bro.

  • Davern

    very good list. i’m always surprised by the success of american history x. the concept was really great bit i didnt like the screenwriting. even edward norton couldn’t make the dialogue effective. in particular his rant at the dining table seems so forced. again, great list.

  • Tony: Lost in Translation is a brilliant film – it is amazing how many people don’t like it though – I guess it is a love it or hate it film.

    Davern: while I really like American History X, you are spot on concerning the dinner table rant.

  • Megatron

    Jfrater –

    According to your definition of “indie”, classic Hollywood cinema is not a part of it, thus Psycho is not an indie. Hitchcock was one of the top directors in 1960 and Psycho was a huge commercial success; just cause he financed it himself does not make it an indie (Hitchcock was loaded). To Kill a Mockingbird does not belong either for the same reason that it is classical Hollywood cinema. Also , Seven and American Beauty were commercially driven, thus they should not be there either. Cuckoo’s Nest, Strangelove, and Apocalypse Now were not produced by small studios and were made to be successful. Think about it: Cuckoo’s Nest was a very popular play, Apocalypse Now was Coppola’s next big thing after Godfather II and The Conversation, and Strangelove was a satire on the war meant to have commercial success (Sellers was a box office draw). I stand by my argument that none of the movies aforementioned belong on this list.

  • Megatron: by the definition given in my comment 22, Psycho is an Indie film because it was produced by an independent film company without funding from a major film studio. And yes – because he financed it himself, it does make it an indie film. Just because a film is considered a classic does not mean it is automatically excluded from other genres :) You can, of course, disregard my criteria which is your prerogative but I still stand by my list. Indie doesn’t have to mean weird.

  • Megatron

    I will give you my top 15 and see what you think:

    1. Rushmore
    2. Pulp Fiction
    3. Swingers
    4. Reservoir Dogs
    5. Do the Right Thing
    6. Sideways
    7. Lost in Translation
    8. Roger & Me
    9. City of God
    10. Blue Velvet
    11. The Usual Suspects
    12. Mulholland Drive
    13. Boyz in the Hood
    14. In the Company of Men
    15. The Door in the Floor

  • Megatron

    Again, your definition says “often” produced by a smaller studio, not always. Psycho is classical Hollywood cinema which your definition explicitly excludes from the category of independent film. Also it was commercially driven.

  • Megatron: very nice list – all are excellent films (except sideways – yuck!) – feel free to check out the contribute page in case you are interested in sending in some film related lists (or lists on any topic of course). Incidentally – your list includes two of my favorite films – Lost in Translation, and Mulholland Drive.

  • Anya

    I’ve seen roughly two-thirds of the films on the list, and while I found one or two a bit overhyped, I’m glad to see American History X on there. Edward Norton earned a new level of respect from me in that one. On a personal note, I would’ve replaced Pulp Fiction with Reservoir Dogs and bumped Holy Grail up a bit, but otherwise, great list. :)

  • trebek


    No, but it is absolutely my #1 totally favourite flick of all time, above all else, bar none.

    I can see how someone might hate it though. Likely for the same reasons people like myself hold it in high regard.

  • TMoraca

    Megatron: Just letting you know I agree with you. Being an indie filmmaker myself, completely un-financed by anything other than my change bucket, I’m a little offended that true paycheck-to-paycheck artists are shunned here.

    That being said, some of these films are still some of my favorites: Pulp Fiction, Dr. Strangelove, Eternal Sunshine (favorite romance film ever), Requiem… yet, The Usual Suspects is completely and utterly overrated and has been since day one. I’ve only seen it once and I thought it a waste of my time.

  • Litebritejorge

    I absolutely LOVED the list. I haven’t seen some of the movies on there, but I am using some birthday money to buy some of them. I was surprised to see Mockingbird on the indie list though.

  • Litebritejorge: you will definitely not regret it – these are all great films.

  • Freya

    my boyfriend is an indepedent film maker, and you know he’s friends with some of the big guns of indie film – michel gondry and wes anderson, who are still relatively (yes, relatively) unknown, making films with some well known and less well known actors.
    i, from experience can whole heartedly say that i totally agree with what Megatron (for some reason that name reminds me of the strokes, but we won’t go there) has to say – indie means low budget with unknown actors – ie your Rushmores.

    I agree with you jfrater that all indie films don’t have to be weird, but in essence they have a “unmainstream” quality about them, which ususally means that they are about the human psychie or life in ways never seen before – that is the prerequisite for arthouse or indie cinema – both genres basically compliment one another. the weird thing is that i once had a conversation with gondry about this – and his well known film as many of you might know – Eternal Sunshine, which used quite well known actors, but we agreed that his film was still indie due to the content of his film. Not that he really cares about being labelled indie or not, but really just cares about the message he portrays. Having said that i think it’s unthoughtful to classify those who are not indie as indie – because of the nature of indie film and the hardships that go behind them, the lack of financing etc, as i have seen with my boyfriend and others.

    so my top 10 indie films would have to be as follows –
    1. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
    2. science of sleep
    3. the royal tenebaums
    4. the darjeeling limited
    5. rushmore
    6. lost in translation
    7. amelie
    8. the big lebowski
    9. garden state
    10. donnie darko

    absolutely fucking brilliant films.

  • Freya: while I still don’t agree with the strict definition of indie – I love all the films you have listed in your top ten :) Thanks for the comment!

  • Divahdancer

    hye, i like almost all the movies on the list. i do think there are some that does’nt qualify to be considered as indie movies.however, i do have some suggestion..hope you guys will check them recent favourite indie movies would be; 1.Perfume:The story of a murderer 2.zerophilia 3.shortbus.Enjoy…i will update for more..:)

  • NSEW

    umm what about The Big Lebowski, i think that is an indie movie and i personally love it and think that it is very very funny

  • steve2

    Rory O’Shea was here is one of my favorite indie-ish movies, great flick

  • One flew over the cuckoo’s nest is like, my 3rd favorite movie. The ending where he’s a vegetable made me sad though…but when that guy [[i dont really pay attention to names lol]] finaly gets the sink through the window made it all better…but the suffocating scene and the shock therapy scene…they stayed in my head all week when i first saw it lol…im so happy its number 1.

    awesome list

  • T

    i think kevin spacey is in three of these movies: American Beauty, Usual Suspects and Se7en

  • 8rustystaples

    What exactly is your definition of “indie”? American History X and Se7en are from New Line Cinema; Leon was produced by Gaumont, a large French production company; American Beauty is from Dreamworks; Pulp Fiction was a Miramax film. Also, Apocalypse Now was bankrolled by United Artists.

  • miss_ali1984

    trebek: I’m with you on Clerks. Not only is it tremendously funny, but it shows exactly what independent film is all about. Kevin Smith shot it as cheaply as possible, and even went as far as to max out credit cards and sell a car. That’s a guy who loves his film.

  • choseanose

    Are these all Indie film? I always thought Fincher was a hollywood director and certainly One Flew Over the Cuckoos was a Hollywood film.

    My list would include Blair Witch Project, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Kes, Blood Simple, Evil Dead, Happiness, Dead Man’s shoes etc

  • tom

    Anyone know the title of this “Indie” film:

    A white-trash type boyfriend accidentally shoots his girlfriend in an argument. The boyfriend escapes criminal conviction in court. The girls dad (played by a very likeable, middle aged guy) and friend plot to kill the boyfriend. In the end, they are successful, and you find out the girls mother knew of the plot as well.

    Was a great movie. Wish I could remember one of the actors names to look it up.

  • tom

    (found the answer to my question)

    In The Bedroom

  • jbjr

    Very solid list!!!!!

  • Pyrratus

    Needs more Garden State.

    Zach Braff is going to be an incredible Indie-film creator.

  • Steven “The Man With The Plan”

    Trainspotting, Amelie, Clockwork Orange, Battle Royale, Life Aquatic and Royal Tennebaums should get honorable mentions

  • toolnut

    Steven: you forgot Boondock Saints

  • Jordan G

    Napoleon Dynamite

  • I’ve seen every movie on this list and each one is fantastic.

  • Susana

    Little Miss Sunshine.

  • Lindsey

    I’ve seen 10 out of 15… not bad!

  • warningdontreadthis

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail one of the best movies ever. I can quote more from it than any other movie I’ve seen.
    Pluss Palin is oh-so hot in it*drools*
    Ah who am I kidding they were all hot. ALL OF THEM!

  • Carmella

    The movie Leon is really called The Professional which was a great movie…Jean Reno is one of my fav. actors..this was the first movie i saw natalie portman in. I knew she’d be a star someday..

  • God

    Reservoir Dogs!

  • donatello

    great list.. and i believe there should now be an exact definition of what “indie” means.. or it doesn’t really matters. the end justifies the means…

  • yummy


  • kathy

    Number 10 isn’t called Leon, it’s called The Professional.

  • kathy: in America it was called the Professional – in the rest of the world it was called Leon. In fact, if you search for “The professional” on IMDB it shows up under the title “Leon“.

  • Oh – that last comment also goes to Carmella.

    Why do people state things as fact when they are wrong or haven’t bothered to check first?

    • I know right?? God, i hate know-it-alls!!!!

  • dustin

    hard to believe that some of these are idies.. i think donnie darko certainly deserves to be on the list.. and you donnie darko fans should check out chumscrubbers

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  • ohrmets

    hardly any of these movies are actually indie films.

  • Jessica

    Seven and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were both really fantastic movies.

  • Anon

    Mostly good list but wheres Donnie Darko? And IMO To Kill a Mocking Bird should be much higher. It’s a pure classic.

  • A

    Se7en is SO good. I love it. But where the hell is Donnie Darko?

  • pwner

    most of these films are not “indie” some are the most hollywood i have ever see. i love this site but get your shit together this is a mockery of all that a film buff should know ahhhhhh fuck this crap.

  • Wu-TangKilla

    Has anyone seen the movie KIDS? It’s a really dark indie film from ’95 about the youth of a precarious generation. It’s one of my favorite films so I thought I should let you guys know about it. Also The Motorcycle Diaries is another one of my favorite indie films. I think indie films are the only films worth watching, film is such a great form of art and an artist should be free to express themselves as much as possible.

  • Wu-TangKilla

    and by the way good list, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is my favorite book of all time and the movie was great too. Where did they find the guy who played Chief Brombden? Could they have found a more perfect guy for that role. And of course Jack Nicholson was the perfect Randal Patrick MacMurphey.

  • juleigh

    jfrater, from your list and all the comments, I have seen quite a few indie films. My question, is The Slums of Beverly Hills an indie film? If so it would definitely make my list.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    While I love a good many movies on this list (especially Pulp Fiction and American History X), I must agree with some earlier sentments that they are not quite what you would call an Indie film…

  • senka

    Down By Low

  • Peter

    Most of the movies on the list arent even indie….

    Some of the best indie movies ive seen in the last few years are.

    Eagle vs shark
    The go getter
    Birds of america
    The puffy chair (Really really really low budget)

  • Dani

    no DONNIE DARKO ?!?!

  • ryan

    wat about

  • Euan

    I have to agree with people that say this is not an indie list at all..


    stranger than fiction
    in between days
    a moment of innocence
    suzhou river

    oh and to that guy naming Juno 3 post back.. hahahahahaha!

  • Euan

    btw, instead of memento, why not name his really outstanding and completely indie film ‘the following’
    far better than memento

  • Ryan2

    Its crazy i read through the first 87 posts before anyone mentioned “wristcutters”. Its full name is “Wristcutters: A Love Story”

    It’s about a guy who kills himself, then awakes in a world where everyone who has killed themselves goes, and has to live out their life, as a punishment.

    It’s a dark comedy based on a short story by the israeli writer Etger Keret, it grossed less than $5 million and is pretty much the definition of an indie film. Relatively unknown actors putting together an original story

  • Jani

    I totally agree with you Ryan2…”Wristcutters: A Love Story” was great!!
    Also, nobody mentioned Bernado Bertolluci’s The Dreamers with then fairly unknown actors at the time, Eva Green and Michael Pitt. It’s one of my faves with Monty Python and teh Holy Grail and its American relative, History of the World I by Mel Brooks.
    Mel Brooks is crazy awesome!

    “Bring on the haters!”

  • simon_says

    things to checkout:
    The Bully
    Dear Wendy
    and yes Elephant was a good venture into the high school massacre issue

  • Mike

    Indie films? really these are indie? I was thinking you were gonna say like Donnie Darko, Swingers, cemetary man (i may be wrong about that one) and EVIL DEAD! :D

  • ryan

    reading through this post makes me laugh!
    alot of films mentioned here are nowere near indie
    “juno” ha
    “pulp fiction” ha

    wristcutters-thats an indie film

  • Laurence

    I liked the film noir type comedy ish film, Brick.

  • fifi

    the movie “leon” is actually called the professional.

  • Katie

    I liked Brick too, never seen anything like it

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  • yoshi

    if you haven’t seen these films then check them out because they are truly amazing indie films.
    kids, gummo, bully, welcome to the dollhouse, black and white & elephant.

  • I4gotmyMantra

    wow, i didn;t even realize that some of these were indie. : /

  • Looser

    ONE complaint even though this isnt my area expertise is that the blair witch project was left out. great movie

  • Hood

    Not indies for the most part.

  • hantamouth

    Not impressed, half of these movies are NOT indie. Half of them are not even that great.

    Apocalypse Now, for example, was a great film indeed. But it had a HUGE budget.

    I wonder if this list’s author knows that “indie” is short for “independent”, the opposite of “studio”.

  • to_sam_ja

    most of these are not indie movies, and monty pythons ‘life of brian’ is way better than ‘holly grail’ and it’s not even on the list

  • alyssssssaaaa

    I actually really liked Martyrs. I think it’s pretty new. But I dont know for sure if it’s indie. I can name some good foreign films :3

  • JFK

    You missed Donnie Darko man, not only is that movie possibly THE best indie film ever made, it defined a generation of kids growing up during that time that wasn’t being portrayed in hollywood. I think the best movie n your list is Eternal Sunshine Of The SPotless Mind, truly a great movie and again one that has had a considerable impact on culture outside of the mainstream. For everyone who likes ESOTSP, check out a record called Juturna by the band Circa Survive, alot of the record is about the movie. I dont know if this works or not but the link is at the bottom.

  • robb

    Nice list :)

    The love of siam should be included somewhere though not sure if its indie or nor ;/

  • Stevie C

    Some of these movies aren’t even “indie” films.
    ‘reservoir dogs’ and ‘clerks’ are great indie movies.

  • LarssonR

    great list man! i love love love American History X, and ofc Leon =)

  • Mike

    Those are hardly indie films.

  • Han Brolo

    ahhhh no clerks? Great list all the while. The movie Se7en is one of the top 10 mind bending movies all time with an ending that CANT be topped!

  • Audrey

    I give a thumbs down on all the cop movies taking over this list.
    Or more so, action movies.
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a stupendous movie, with a great plotline.
    I don’t know, this is, as usual, a success of a list on JFrater’s part, I’m just a girl out to push the action down for once for being so domineering in the movie world and give the others a chance.

  • Tristan

    Might be indie, might not be but very indie-like movies that are fucking awesome:

    Lords of Dogtown
    Sex, Lies, and Videotape
    Ken Park
    Fight Club
    Better Luck Tomorrow
    Y Tu Mama Tambien

    ……definitley some must see movies! Anyone vouch for these? Haha

  • Joxxon

    Whats indie about this list? Apocalypse? Pulp Fiction?? Nahhh…

  • Magic 8 Ball

    Finally, I find a list regarding movies that I agree with every entry. I might suggest Donnie Darko as well, however.

  • Oralkes

    where’s garden state? and i agree that some of these movies aren’t really indie

  • IndiePirate

    Any of Wes Anderson’s or Coen brother’s films are a great watch! I have an awesome awesome hand picked indie and cult film list you can watch streaming at

  • IndiePirate

    Any of Wes Anderson’s or Coen brother’s films are a great watch! I have an awesome awesome hand picked indie and cult film list you can watch streaming at indiepirate.blogspot . com

  • Wakennagarie

    Se7en? Huh????

  • ariane

    a must
    me and you and everyone we know

  • RMP

    Mulholland Drive or Blue Velvet?

  • Scott

    I don't think any of these movie are indie, just my personal opinion

  • Movies All Tim

    I am glad that you mentioned American History X movie in this list. It even deserves being in the top 5.


  • Apocalypto is my fav movie. The recent Apocalypsys movie was very gory.

  • but but what about TRANSAMERICA??

  • Loved Requiem, despised American History X which is grotesquely predictable and over-rated.

  • Punk93

    Some of my favorite movies are here (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, American History X, Se7en, Memento…). Loved “Requiem For A Dream”. It’s kind of disturbing but really incredible. Totally agree with you that most of the indie movies are the best. I think The Usual Suspects are overrated. Great list though!

  • Punk93

    Some of my favorite movies are here (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, American History X, Se7en, Memento…). Loved “Requiem For A Dream”. It’s kind of disturbing but really incredible. Totally agree with you that most of the indie movies are great. I think The Usual Suspects are overrated. Great list overall!

  • pablo

    number 10 is called the professional, not leon. and most of these films aren't independent, but they all are great films.

  • giulia

    What about Cruel Intention??

  • Matango

    You do not understand the meaning of indie. Indie was almost a movement in american cinema. Indie movies are for example: Gummo, Kids, Buffalo 66, Brick,…

  • Veronica

    Spun. One of my faves…

  • riley

    i am truly surprised there arent more comments about Donnie Darko. I’ve seen about three and one of them called it johny darko. i mean really. i’d put it in my top three. and i havent seen much about eraserhead either. lets stop arguing over the definition of indie and more about how some films on this list doesnt deserve to be, whatever the definition of indie is.

  • TrixRabbi

    Rather than a plot analysis it would have been cooler to learn about how these films got made.

  • dockjocker

    most of these are studio indie films, not truly independent film

  • good post, i definitely enjoy this page, keep on it.

  • WhenGrandmasAttack

    donnie darko?!

  • Kayassulk


  • BreK


  • Tushar

    great list…..usual suspects…requeim for a dream…se7en…all great movies…niceT

  • Dan

    Garden state!!!

  • Sam

    so, how do you know if a film is indie? just the low budget? What´s the difference with cult movies?

    • asdf

      indie = independant so usually it means there’s no studio behind it. Half of the movies listed here are not indie movies

  • Len

    Almost none of these are independent films

    • Smaug

      They are all independent films because they were all made without a big hollywood studio’s money- or at least less than half based on the criteria that jfrater posted on the first comment page. Just because you think or believe they are not independent does not mean they aren’t. It just means you don’t understand the criteria. Budget size, subject matter and mainstream appeal are also not criteria. In fact, the Star Wars prequels from 1999-2005 are independent films because Lucas financed them entirely himself. Not a single penny came from Hollywood.

  • asdfasdf

    Half of these movies are not indie. Pulp fiction is not indie for sure. Reservoire dogs is.

  • uri


  • moldovia

    No ‘mad Max’?

  • Andrea

    Fun fact: Star Wars is also considered Indie. :)

  • Dr. Mario

    I’m sorry but these are not indie films!
    THey are great films, and made by major companies,
    for instance, American Beauty is made by DreamWorks,
    Se7en made by New Line Cinema, Pulp Fiction by Miramax, etc.
    Besides, independent movies don’t go to oscars and almost each
    movie of the above is oscar associated.

  • parikshit hegde

    i wish you included “Shawshank Redemption”
    all these movies are great but shawshank redemption is the best movie ever for me

  • Asrzd

    This list is bullsh**t, sorry. I googled “indie films” expecting to find some obscure unknown films and I got this… the most clichéd list I’ve ever seen in my life.

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  • You forgot the original “Halloween” starring Jamie Lee Curtis

  • Diiego N

    Raq for a Dream i think is the best from this list!

  • Jes

    What about ‘Rubber’?

  • Jo

    What is indie about this? These are all very famous films. Indie would be like ‘Gummo’ or those.

  • Julia


  • Yes! ysyesyesyesyesyes!

    Also nearly doubles as my top 15!

  • Ajax

    A big BOO! HISS! to this list because there is no discussion about what made the movie special or even “indie.” It was just a list with synopses and no insight whatsoever…

  • TheGreatGiantRobot

    Most of these films are far from being independent. Saying Apocalypse Now is an independent film is like saying Iron Man 2 is an independent film.

    Also, in Requiem for a Dream, Marion is not addicted to cocaine. She is addicted to heroin just like Harry and Tyrone, she just snorts it instead of shooting up.

  • pletcherjdb


  • babyboi102909

    Monster is also a fantastic indie film. Charlize Theron was absolutely amazing in it! Also, Boys Don’t Cry about Brandon Teena. Hilary Swank’s performance was incredible!

  • Laura Frances

    Primer should def. be on this list.

  • IndieFilmLover

    Most of these films aren’t really indie…

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