By circumventing the controlling efforts of major studios, the best independent films of all time were able to, in a word, be themselves. Though big budget movies might have better production and promotion, great independent films have the distinct advantage of creative freedom. In addition, the lack of big name actors allows the viewer to really invest independent films' characters, without the constant reality check of a familiar face. With these two huge pluses on their side, it's no wonder that these best independent films of all time were such artistic and creative successes.

  1. The Blair Witch Project” As polarizing as this independent film was with critics and viewers, it can't be denied that “The Blair Witch Project” was a cultural phenomenon. Set in the creepy woods adjacent to the town of Burkittsville, Maryland, the movie chronicles three film students' search for the area's mythical Blair Witch. They trek through the woods for days, eventually getting lost, and becoming psychologically unraveled. Meanwhile, someone or something is drawing nearer. Though the action was relegated to the movement of small objects, walking through the woods, and the occasional weird noise, there was something genuinely creepy about this movie that's hard to place. And whether you loved or hated its controversial ending, “The Blair Witch Project” is one of those films that sticks with you long after the credits roll.

  2. Lost in Translation” This Sofia Coppola work broke one of the biggest traditions in independent films by casting Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen in leading roles. But their chemistry on screen was absolutely undeniable. The film takes place in Tokyo, Japan, with Murray as an aging movie star and Johanssen as an unsure newlywed. Both feeling out of place in Tokyo's alien culture, the two strike up an unlikely fling. Though it's technically a romantic comedy, this movie is too insightful, funny, and emotionally real to be piled on with the rest of the heap.

  3. Reservoir Dogs” Before Quentin Tarantino became a huge star with the “Kill Bill” franchise, he made this mind-blowing independent film. It features all his trademarks, including a patched-together storyline, snappy dialogue, and a compelling, somewhat brutal plot. Though movie buffs often sing the praises of his later film “Pulp Fiction” as his best, it's “Reservoir Dogs” that exemplifies Tarantino at his creative finest. The film stars Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Steve Buscemi among others as a team of gangsters trying desperately to do damage control on a botched heist. It eventually turns into a brutal mole search, ending in the sort of uncanny tragedy that Tarantino has a proven knack for. Fans of the crime genre will appreciate this independent film immensely.