20 Awesome American Independent Movies Worth Watching

awesome indie movies

Generally, the marketing of independent films is characterized by limited release. They are playing in a select few theaters across the country (typically in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco). Under this circumstance, many great indies are under the radar and remain unseen. Thanks to DVDs and independent film festivals like Sundance, many little-known indies got the chance to get their own audiences, some even got many enthusiastic fans.

Here are 20 awesome american indie movies you might have not seen yet, but should.


20. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Elizabeth Olsen made an instant impression – and escaped the shadow of her celebrity sisters – in Sean Durkin’s intense drama about an escapee from a cult.


19. Hannah Takes The Stairs (2007)


Unheralded at the time, but Joe Swanberg’s mumblecore drama – starring the movement’s fellow directors Andrew Bujalski and Mark Duplass alongside Greta Gerwig – looks like the genre’s archetypal movie.


18. Kids (1995)

Kids (1995)

Photographer Larry Clark’s film debut, about a bunch of predatory boys deflowering underage girls despite the risk of HIV, presented a grimy, unsanitised vision of teenage life. Disney, it ain’t.


17. Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

Kelly Reichardt’s deliberately uneventful anti-Western drops its cast, like its characters, into the Oregon wilderness to see how they react. The budget was so low the actors didn’t even have a change of costume.


16. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)


There are two Gus Van Sants. One makes Oscar-winning hits like Good Will Hunting and Milk. The other fashions laidback hymns to the counterculture like this story of over-the-counter drug addicts.


15. Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai (1999)

Ghost Dog The Way Of The Samurai

Jim Jarmusch was one of the pioneers of modern American indie, and rarely flirted with the mainstream. His take on the gangster movie is probably his most accessible movie, albeit oddball by everybody else’s standards.


14. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)


In the 1990s, you could throw a stone and hit a Tarantino clone. Writer/star John Cusack’s off-grid masterpiece about a hitman going back to school is what you’d hit if you were aiming for the bullseye.


13. Lone Star (1996)


Veteran John Sayles was indie before the term really existed. By the time complex Western Lone Star came along, he was an elder statesman capable of old-school classicism on a tight budget.


12. THX-1138 (1971)


In which George Lucas satiated his art-house fix so he could get on with being mainstream… but still managed to make a cool sci-fi film with robots.


11. Take Shelter (2011)

Michael Shannon in Take Shelter

Indie’s bright hope for the future, Jeff Nichols, whipped up a storm at Sundance and Cannes with his character study of a man plagued by apocalyptic visions, played by perennial scene-stealer Michael Shannon in a rare leading role.