Top 50 Indie Films

I always liked small films with big hearts and tiny productions with too much to say. Like how far experimental music has come, what used to be arcane discourse is now spreading like wildfire. More and more films are getting made for next to nothing, and word gets out either way. Somehow somewhere people are filming, watching and sharing. Here are my picks. Knock yourself out.

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1.
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play. (124 mins.)
Director: Charlie Kaufman
 
2.
The Holy Mountain (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve enlightenment. (114 mins.)
 
3.
Lost in Translation (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo. (102 mins.)
Director: Sofia Coppola
 
4.
Her (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need. (126 mins.)
Director: Spike Jonze
 
5.
Frances Ha (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn't really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she's not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles. (86 mins.)
Director: Noah Baumbach
 
6.
Mind Game (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
After a deadly encounter with two yakuza, a loser with a crush on his childhood girlfriend goes to heaven and back, embarking on a psychedelic self-discovery experience with her and his friends. (103 mins.)
 
7.
Swallowtail Butterfly (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The struggles of a group of immigrant outcasts living in an alternative-future, xenophobic Japanese metropolis. (148 mins.)
Director: Shunji Iwai
 
8.
American Psycho (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies. (102 mins.)
Director: Mary Harron
 
9.
Before Sunset (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse's book tour. (80 mins.)
 
10.
Before Sunrise (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together. (101 mins.)
 
11.
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel. (86 mins.)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
 
12.
Love in a Puff (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Since 2007, the Hong Kong health authorities have implemented an anti-smoking law that bans people from smoking in all indoor areas... (104 mins.)
Director: Ho-Cheung Pang
 
13.
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A film star comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself while starring in a revival of the play that launched her career. (124 mins.)
Director: Olivier Assayas
 
14.
American Honey (2016)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A teenage girl with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits. (163 mins.)
Director: Andrea Arnold
 
15.
The Dreamers (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A young American studying in Paris in 1968 strikes up a friendship with a French brother and sister. Set against the background of the '68 Paris student riots. (115 mins.)
 
16.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Illustrated upon the progress of his latest Broadway play, a former popular actor's struggle to cope with his current life as a wasted actor is shown. (119 mins.)
 
17.
Visitor Q (2001 Video)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A troubled and perverted family find their lives intruded by a mysterious stranger who seems to help find a balance in their disturbing natures. (84 mins.)
Director: Takashi Miike
 
18.
Gigantic (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A mattress salesman finds his plan to adopt a Chinese baby augmented by the arrival of a young woman, who comes into his workplace, falls asleep on one of the beds, and starts to affect his life upon waking up. (98 mins.)
Director: Matt Aselton
 
19.
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn't believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her. (95 mins.)
Director: Marc Webb
 
20.
Medicine for Melancholy (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Twenty-four hours in the tentative relationship of two young San Franciscans also dealing with the conundrum of being a minority in a rapidly gentrifying city. (88 mins.)
Director: Barry Jenkins
 
21.
Ghost World (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives. (111 mins.)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
 
22.
The Idiots (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The group of people gather at the house in Copenhagen suburb to break all the limitations and to bring out the "inner idiot" in themselves. (117 mins.)
 
23.
Whiplash (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential. (107 mins.)
Director: Damien Chazelle
 
24.
Naked Lunch (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa. (115 mins.)
 
25.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades. (118 mins.)
Director: Terry Gilliam
 
26.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A story about the lives and love among two young men and a beautiful girl. (90 mins.)
Director: Xiaosong Gao
 
27.
Waking Life (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe. (99 mins.)
 
28.
A Snake of June (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A man and woman fall into an erotic nightmare when they are stalked by a disturbed man. (77 mins.)
 
29.
Twentynine Palms (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
David, an independent photographer, and Katia, an unemployed woman, leave Los Angeles, en route to the southern California desert... (119 mins.)
Director: Bruno Dumont
 
30.
Memories of Murder (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In a small Korean province in 1986, three detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit. (131 mins.)
Director: Joon Ho Bong
 
31.
The Yellow Sea (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money... (157 mins.)
Director: Hong-jin Na
 
32.
Save the Green Planet! (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Byeong-gu believes that the world is on the verge of an alien invasion, and sets out to save the world. (118 mins.)
Director: Joon-Hwan Jang
 
33.
The Final Master (2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A Wing Chun master has to defeat 8 martial arts schools to open his own school, yet he has become a chess piece to the local power dynamics. (109 mins.)
Director: Haofeng Xu
 
34.
Headhunters (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary. (100 mins.)
Director: Morten Tyldum
 
35.
Monsters (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion, a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the U.S. border. (94 mins.)
Director: Gareth Edwards
 
36.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means. (107 mins.)
 
37.
Pom Poko (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A community of magical shape-shifting raccoon dogs struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development. (119 mins.)
Director: Isao Takahata
 
38.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers' retaliation. (87 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
 
39.
Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Hannah is a recent college graduate interning at a Chicago production company. She is crushing on two writers at work... (83 mins.)
Director: Joe Swanberg
 
40.
Alex of Venice (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
A workaholic attorney is forced to reinvent her life after her husband suddenly leaves. (86 mins.)
Director: Chris Messina
 
41.
Frank & Lola (2016)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption. (88 mins.)
Director: Matthew Ross
 
42.
The Continent (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Three men living in the Eastern most island of China go on a road trip to the Western most end of the country, and facing crises of love, friendship, and faith on their journey to the West. (105 mins.)
Director: Han Han
 
43.
The Puffy Chair (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Josh Sagers drives cross-country on a mission to deliver his father's birthday gift - a giant purple LazyBoy. (85 mins.)
Director: Jay Duplass
 
44.
Breaking Upwards (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A young New York couple intricately strategize their own break up. (88 mins.)
Director: Daryl Wein
 
45.
Broken English (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Nora Wilder is freaking out. Everyone around her is in a relationship, is married, or has children. Nora is in her thirties... (97 mins.)
Director: Zoe Cassavetes
 
46.
Mary and Max (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York. (92 mins.)
Director: Adam Elliot
 
47.
Wassup Rockers (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Instead of adhering to the norms of their South Central neighborhood, a group of skater boys opt to bus into Hollywood and Beverly Hills... (111 mins.)
Director: Larry Clark
 
48.
Zombieland (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkie, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America. (88 mins.)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
 
49.
Shortbus (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A group of New Yorkers caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu converge at an underground salon infamous for its blend of art, music, politics, and carnality. (101 mins.)
 
50.
Roger Dodger (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After breaking up with his lover and boss, a smooth-talking man takes his teenaged nephew out on the town in search of sex. (106 mins.)
Director: Dylan Kidd
 
51.
Good Dick (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A look at the relationship between a lonely introverted girl and a young video store clerk vying for her attention. (86 mins.)
Director: Marianna Palka
 
52.
Open Five (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A blend of reality and fiction, "Open Five" follows the story of Jake, a struggling musician and his sidekick... (72 mins.)
 
53.
Coherence (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead. (89 mins.)
 
54.
Tokyo! (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A cinematic triptych of three Tokyo-set stories. (112 mins.)
 
55.
Eri Eri rema sabakutani (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A.D. 2015: A virus has been spreading in many cities worldwide. It is a suicidal disease and the virus is infected by pictures... (107 mins.)
Director: Shinji Aoyama
 
56.
Encounters at the End of the World (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Film-maker Werner Herzog travels to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, looking to capture the continent's beauty and investigate the characters living there. (99 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
57.
Baraka (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life and religion. (96 mins.)
Director: Ron Fricke
 
58.
Racing Extinction (2015 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A documentary that follows undercover activists trying to stave off a man-made mass extinction. (90 mins.)
Director: Louie Psihoyos