10 Classic Indie Movies

Saturday, July 23 by Adam Williamson

Picking 10 classic indie movies is difficult. After all, there are so many, and many new films seem poised to become classics in their own right. When narrowing it down, one has to consider not only how good the movie was, but how well it typifies the "indie film" genre. Some had relatively large budgets, while others were filmed on a shoe-string.  Some of the films had major star power, while others created new stars after release. The one thing that unites the movies is the independent spirit of their creators. 

  1. "Clerks"  "Clerks" introduced the world to Kevin Smith.  It also spawned a number of films in the same New Jersey-centric universe.  If nothing else, Clerks changed the way that many would-be auteurs made films. 
  2. "Requiem for a Dream"  This film is the antithesis of "Clerks". Beloved of artistic film students, many consider it an exercise in form over function. The unique look and casting choices make it the prime example of an independent film for many. 
  3. "Doom Generation"  Most films on this list have a major cult following.  "Doom Generation", on the other hand, is a relativ unknown. The film's unique vibe and introduction of Rose McGowan, however, do earn it major points.
  4. "Royal Tenenbaums"  This quirky picture typifies independent cinema for many.  If nothing else, it is the definitive example of a Wes Anderson film. Not only did the movie become a cult hit, but it featured major collaborators like Bill Murray, Owen and Luke Wilson, and Anjelica Huston. 
  5. "Trainspotting"  Today, Danny Boyle is best known for award winning pictures like "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours".  Not so long ago, though, he made this film about heroin addicted Scots.  The movie led to the director's major US profile, and also raised the star power of Ewan McGregor
  6. "Resevoir Dogs" This film was initially screened on less than 100 screens in the US. What it lacked in exposure it made up for in sheer on screen insanity. The film also introduced the world to Quentin Tarrantino, and featured many tropes the director continues to use to this day.
  7. "The Blair Witch Project"  Many films fail to make back their budgets. Few films can claim to make back over ten times the shooting budget.  The Blair Witch Project managed to pull in over two hundred and fifty million dollars on a twenty thousand dollar shooting budget. Not bad for an indie film.
  8. "Sideways"  Who would have figured a story about two unlikable protagonists looking to drink wine would be a hit? This film ignited a wine-drinking fad in the US, and restored the careers of its two male leads. The film has been somewhat forgotten since its release, but its impact on the indie scene is undeniable.
  9. "Fargo"  This was not the Coen brothers' first film (that honor goes to "Blood Simple"), it was their first big indie hit.  This quirky flick took the country by storm in the 90s, and for good reason. With a great cast and a simple premise, it was quickly imitated but never duplicated.
  10. "El Mariachi"  I the spirit of the the rest of the list, this is the Indie movie that really introduced Robert Rodriguez to the world. The film would be overshadowed by the more popular "Desperado", but it did set the stage. Possibly the cheapest on the list, it was made for only $7,000.
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