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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