Famous Independent Films

Sunday, April 3 by Joshua Wade

Notable for the impeccable directing, exceptional performances and memorable writing, these famous independent films showcase early hits that launched the careers of filmmakers like Atom Egoyan, Joel and Ethan Coen, Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith. Some, like Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” feature innovative cinematography, while others like Smith’s “Clerks” and Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” influenced an entire generation of low-budget indie cult classics.

  1. “The Sweet Hereafter” One of Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s most famous independent films, this story about a bus crash that claims the lives of a number of children and the effects of their deaths on their small British Columbia town has become Egoyan’s most memorable film. The film won a number of awards including the Grand Prix at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
  2. “Reservoir Dogs” The 1992 debut of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, this moody crime classic about a group of thieves before and after a failed diamond heist has been ranked as one of the greatest independent films ever made. Characterized by Tarantino’s iconic mix of pop culture references, nonlinear storylines and masterful dialogue, the film delivers exceptional performances by Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi and Tarantino favorite, Michael Madsen.
  3. “Pink Flamingoes” John Waters’ controversial 1972 film about a transvestite who sets out to defend her title as “the filthiest person alive” is one of Waters’ most famous independent films and has gone on to become the most notorious cult films ever made.
  4. “Good Will Hunting” The film that launched writer-actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to superstardom, this 1997 gem about a brilliant young janitor and his struggles in south Boston features charming performances by Robin Williams and Minnie Driver. The film won two Academy Awards including an award for Best Screenplay for Affleck and Damon and a Best Actor award for Williams as therapist Sean Maguire.
  5. “Slacker” One of the most famous independent films ever made, this 1991 film by legendary filmmaker Richard Linklater perfectly captured the bohemian counter culture of the 1990’s and went on to become a highly successful cult classic. Made on a budget of less than $30,000, the film inspired an entire generation of successful, low-budget filmmakers like Indie icon, Kevin Smith.
  6. “Memento” This innovative 2000 film by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan is told in reverse chronological order and follows Leonard Shelby, a man with antegrade amnesia attempting to solve the rape and murder of his wife. Nominated for a number of awards, “Memento” beautifully showcases Nolan’s gritty, noir style and introduced the filmmaker as one of cinema’s formidable talents.
  7. “Fargo” One of the Coen Brothers’ most famous independent films, “Fargo” follows the members of a botched kidnapping and the murders that result from their greed and lust for power. The film won a number of Academy Awards and remains one of Joel and Ethan Coen’s most memorable films, notably due to its heinous ending.
  8. “The Last King of Scotland” A disturbing fictionalized biopic from independent British filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, this film details the atrocities of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin ruthlessly portrayed by actor Forest Whitaker. Actor James McAvoy gives an impressive performance as fictional doctor Nicholas Garrigan, while Kerry Washington shines as Amin’s ill-fated wife Kay.
  9. “The Bicycle Thief” One of the most famous independent films in the history of Italian cinema, this neorealist film from director Vittorio De Sico revolutionized film by using actual locations and everyday people in the film itself. A stirring story of a man who sets out with his son to find his stolen bicycle, this 1948 masterpiece has won a number of awards and is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.
  10. “Clerks” The debut film of acclaimed indie filmmaker Kevin Smith, “Clerks” follows a day in the lives of two salesclerks at a New Jersey convenience store. Shot in black and white on a shoestring budget, the film has become one of the greatest cult classics ever made and introduced the witty dialogue and characters for which Smith’s films have come to be known including Dante Hicks and Jay and Silent Bob.
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