2010 was a good year for indie movies. Thrillers, comedies, some drama. But that doesn't really help you, does it? You want the definitive list of the best indie movies from 2010-no big budgets, few big stars, perhaps some acoustic guitar on the soundtrack-these movies were the best indie films of 2010, which would probably put most of them in the running for best all-around.

"Winter's Bone"

This indie-noir thriller should be picking up even more steam audience-wise now that star Jennifer Lawrence is a big "Hunger Games" celebrity. But this movie combines an indie focus on character with a kind of pulpy intensity, particularly in the unforgettable climax that includes a boat, a really scary lake, and a chainsaw. Not the usual ingredients for indie film greatness, but this isn't your usual indie film.

"Never Let Me Go"

Science fiction might not seem like a genre that would make a good fit with the low budgets and quiet atmospheres of independent filmmaking. But there are no aliens, robots, or lasers to be found here. Just a bunch of really sad teenagers who are actually clones created in order to provide organs for sick rich people. And you'll be really sad too after this emotional powerhouse of a movie.

"Blue Valentine"

One of the 908 films Ryan Gosling made between 2009 and the present, searing romantic drama "Blue Valentine" might be the best of the bunch. It's basically a chronologically-splintered look at a dead relationship. We see the giddy highs of first love and the crushing lows of rejection and eventually dissolution. Fun movie to watch on a date with someone you love!

"127 Hours"

Reason this might not be considered an indie movie: It stars Hollywood big-shot James Franco. Reason this probably is an indie movie: It stars ONLY James Franco, and for most of the film's running time he's pinned between two rocks and talking to himself. Director Danny Boyle brings the true story of Aron Ralston, who cut off his own arm in order to escape a lonely death, to the screen in an unforgettable way.


Another entry in the "guy trapped in a small dark space" subgenre, "Buried" is even more closed-off than "127 Hours." The whole movie takes place in the tiny, coffin-sized box that Ryan Reynolds is trapped in, and it manages to be one of the most suspenseful and intense thrillers to come out in quite a while. Even if you think you're too claustrophobic to watch, don't you want to know if he makes it out?


This drama about a young girl who gets targeted and victimized by a sexual predator through the internet (and in person) is as heavy and complex as dramas get. You do have some mid-level stars in the form of Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, but the movie's non-exploitative (but still thoroughly chilling) treatment of the subject is pure indie. If there is such a thing as "pure indie," which there isn't. Anyway, it's a good movie. See it, especially if you have kids.