20 Awesome American Independent Movies Worth Watching

10. Half Nelson (2006)

Half Nelson (2006)

Ryan Gosling earned an unanticipated Oscar nomination in Ryan Fleck’s drama, a raw, ragged antidote to Hollywood’s “inspirational teacher” genre.


9. Killer Of Sheep (1977)

Killer of Sheep (1977)

Charles Burnett’s episodic, moody account of a slaughterhouse worker and his strained family relationships is a touchstone for African-American independent cinema that doesn’t have a hint of blaxploitation.


8. Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

John Waters’ growing reputation as a purveyor of taboo-busting filthy-encrusted comedy exploded in this chicken-sex, dog poo-eating extravaganza.


7. Swingers (1996)


The definitive 90s dating comedy is a classic example of how low-budget verve and ingenuity can provide the calling card for future A-listers in this case director Doug Liman, star Vince Vaughn and writer/actor Jon Favreau.


6. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Charlie Kaufman – the most self-consciously indie ‘brand’ around – goes semi-respectable with Michel Gondry’s Oscar-winning (but still incredibly experimental) head-fucking romance.


5. Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (1986)


Made in 1986 but not released until 1990, John McNaughton’s harrowing, realistic ‘portrait’ is proof that, whatever indie’s ability to probe the darkness, it still has to get past the censors.


4. Brick (2006)


Indie’s status as a laboratory to mix and match genres is exemplified by Rian Johnson’s debut, an innovative blend of hard-boiled noir and high school.


3. Rushmore (1998)


Wes Anderson redefined American indie as a hipster’s whimsical paradise, with the help of Adrian-from-Rocky’s son and Bill Murray being funnier when he’s not trying to be funny.


2. King Of New York (1990)

King of New York (1990)

A decade on from notorious debut Driller Killer, Abel Ferrara showed age hadn’t mellowed him with this corrosive, violent tale of Christopher Walken’s New York drug lord, Frank White.


1. Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winter’s Bone

“Indie” all too often means urban and cosmopolitan. Debra Granik reminded us that America is a big place with her taut thriller, which is also a portrait of the rural Ozarks community.