10 Great Independent Films

Tuesday, February 1 by Nicki Porter

The movie industry would be nothing without movies like these 10 great independent films. Independent films are unafraid to take cinematic risks and they offer actors a chance to take meatier roles than the mindless romantic comedy roles that the big studios offer. At least one of these independent films will kick-start your appreciation of the independent movie genre.

  1. "(500) Days of Summer." This movie should be dedicated to anyone who's become sick of the classic (cliché) romantic comedy formula. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt provide masterful cinematic chemistry while telling a story about love that is decidely "not a love story." A perfect choice for date night.
  2. "Garden State." This quintessential independent film turned an entire generation into indie film aficionados. Zach Braff and Natalie Portman (accompanied by indie music genre favorites like The Shins) discuss love in an era desensitized by painkillers.
  3. "Reservoir Dogs." Quentin Tarantino made his debut with his stylized and ultra-violent heist film "Reservoir Dogs." The movie put Tarantino on the map, letting the filmmaker legend go on to make movies like "Inglourious Basterds," "Pulp Fiction," and the "Kill Bill" series.
  4. "Juno." This 2007 indie movie's wit and charm won over audiences all over the world. It became one of the highest-grossing independent films of all time. The film starred eternally awkward Michael Cera and indie darling Ellen Page as teenage parents trying to decide the fate of their unborn child.
  5. "Little Miss Sunshine." "Little Miss Sunshine" boasted an ensemble cast that couldn't be beat. The story of a dysfunctional family trying to get their offbeat daughter (Abigail Breslin) to a beauty pageant against all odds left 2006 audiences rolling in the aisle. While the entire cast performs brilliantly in this wacky comedy, Steve Carrell and Alan Arkin deserve honorable mentions for standout performances.
  6. "My Big Fa Greek Wedding." While hardcore indie fans shun this movie, it deserves a spot on this list because of its overwhelming commercial success. The movie by itself is charming and funny, but it earns its keep for being one of the highest-grossing indie films in movie history. Actress/writer Nia Vardalos proved that you don't need big Hollywood studios to produce a good, successful movie.
  7. "Fargo." Sure, the CoenBrothers had a career before "Fargo." But it was the Frances McDormand/William H. Macy masterpiece that made the brothers a household name. The film won over critics and gave the Coen brothers a launchpad for films like "The Big Lebowski" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
  8. "Secretary." Independent filmmakers aren't afraid to push boundaries, and 2002's "Secretary" proved exactly that. Unabashedly sexual, the movie shows how a sado-masochistic relationship between Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader can be a form of redemption.
  9. "Capote." Truman Capote was a pioneer in the field of literary nonfiction and the movie "Capote" pioneered post-millennium biography films. Taut and tense, this movie showcases acting genius Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his best light.
  10. "Wristcutters: A Love Story." It all came down to a battle between "Wristcutters" and "Waitress" for the tenth spot on this list. While Keri Russell charms in "Waitress," it was the former's originality that won it a spot on this list. "Wristcutters: A Love Story" is about a special dimension reserved entirely for those who've committed suicide and the few who decide to escape the suicidal purgatory.
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