The best independent films from the 2000s include films from notable indie filmmakers like Alexander Payne, Wes Anderson and Guillermo del Torro. Some films, like the 2003 charmer “Lost in Translation” and the 2005 psychological thriller “Hard Candy,” have launched the careers of filmmakers Sofia Coppola and David Slade. Featuring impeccable dialogue, beautiful cinematography and standout performances by some of film’s most talented actors, these films encompass some of the finest independent films the twentieth century had to offer.

  1. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” This harrowing 2000 masterpiece by Asian filmmaker Ang Lee was a joint production by a number of independent studios including Hong Kong's EDKO Films and Sony's independent production company Sony Pictures Classics, redefining special effects. Without a doubt one of the best independent films from the 2000s, this film remains one of Lee’s most memorable and helped launch his Hollywood film career.

  2. “The Royal Tenenbaums” This somber 2001 film by iconic independent filmmaker Wes Anderson is arguably one of the best independent films from the 2000s and one of Anderson’s most well known. The story of the successes and failures of a gifted New York family, “The Royal Tenenbaums” features Bill Murray, Angelica Huston and Owen and Luke Wilson, and showcases his subdued, absurdist style.

  3. “Secretary” A 2002 romantic comedy-drama about an awkward secretary who becomes empowered by a torrid, sadomasochistic relationship with her boss, “Secretary” features career-defining performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. The film won a number of prestigious film awards and nominations including a Golden Globe nomination for Maggie Gyllenhaal.

  4. “Lost in Translation” The second film by filmmaker Sofia Coppola, this 2003 film about a young woman and her friendship with an older man over a few days in Tokyo won Coppola a number of Academy Award nominations as well as Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Exceptional performances by Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray highlight this poignant film.

  5. “Garden State” An award-winning 2004 film starring writer-director Zach Braff, “Garden State” is certainly one of the best independent films from the 2000s and follows Andrew Largeman, an actor who returns to his hometown after nearly a decade to attend his mother’s funeral. The film features impeccable writing and directing by Braff, backed by endearing performances by Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard as Largeman’s childhood friend, Mark.

  6. “Sideways” A sophisticated 2004 comedy by filmmaker Alexander Payne, “Sideways” features acclaimed acto Paul Giamatti as Miles Raymond, a struggling writer who takes his best friend on a tour of the California wine country to celebrate his upcoming wedding. An amazing ensemble cast including Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh shine in this award winning gem.

  7. “Hard Candy” One of the best independent films from the 2000’s, this eerie 2005 thriller stars Ellen Page as a young girl who confronts an alleged sexual predator, played to disturbing perfection by Patrick Wilson. The debut of filmmaker David Slade, this film is one of Page’s finest, highlighting a rising talent’s already illustrious career.

  8. “Pan’s Labyrinth” Arguably one of the best independent films from the 2000s, this visually stunning 2006 fantasy by acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro tells the story of a young girl who falls into a bizarre (and often times nightmarish) world in order to escape the horrors of a post-Civil War Spain. The film is undoubtedly one of del Toro’s best works and features an amazing performance by then 10-year-old actress Ivana Baquero.

  9. “He Was a Quiet Man” A tense and effecting 2007 drama by filmmaker Frank Cappello, this film follows office worker Bob Maconel as he attempts to care for Vanessa, a girl who has been crippled by the deranged gunmen who opens fire in their office. Christian Slater gives a standout performance as Maconel, backed by exceptional performances by Elisha Cuthbert as Vanessa and William H. Macy as Gene Shelby.

  10. “Smart People” A smart, funny comedy-drama from 2008, “Smart People” stars Dennis Quaid as Lawrence Wetherhold, an embittered, widowed professor who woos a former student charmingly portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker. Brilliant writing by novelist Mark Poirier and exceptional performances by Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church as Lawrence’s adopted brother Chuck highlight this sentimental comedy.