The 50 Best Indie Movies of All-Time

agoodmovietowatch is a platform that recommends little-known but acclaimed movies - films you haven't yet seen that you are likely to enjoy. Naturally, many indie movies fall in this category. 

"Indie" used to refer to the way the film was made, a comment about its low-budget or lack of association with big studios. But recently, it has morphed into its own genre. Calling a movie "indie" is like saying it is a comedy, it means that it has very specific characteristics. 

The genre has been overexploited, but many new releases still stand out every year. So, looking back at the evolution of the genre, here are the 50 best indie movies of all-time as ranked by our staff. 

I Origins (2014)

This is a complex yet wonderful sci-fi about a skeptical biologist who is fascinated by the human eye and its uniqueness. The cast is wonderfully chosen and the dialogues are impressive. But what really sets it apart is the underlying romance that it features. I would strongly recommend this film to those who enjoy intriguing debates between science and religion, and in equal measure not recommend it to anyone who wouldn't be open to skepticism towards both religion or science.

(Helena Geraz)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction
Actor: Ako, Archie Panjabi, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Brit Marling, Cara Seymour, Kashish, Michael Pitt, Mike Cahill, Steven Yeun, Venida Evans, William Mapother
Director: Mike Cahill
Rating: R
Tomboy (2011)

I don't want to go too much into detail, but this film is an acting masterpiece. From start to finish it drags you into the characters' life and really makes you feel for the main character. It shows you how hard it really is for the main character to struggle with what she's going through. I hate being left in the dust to wonder like I was left after Tomboy and this film did it and it really gets on my nerves, but it is so good. A true masterpiece.

(Robert A Hickey)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Cheyenne Laine, Jeanne Disson, Malonn Lévana, Mathieu Demy, Noah Vero, Rayan Boubekri, Sophie Cattani, Yohan Vero, Zoé Héran
Director: Céline Sciamma
Rating: Not Rated
Ghost World (2001)

Based on the comic book by Daniel Clowes, Ghost World is a dark comedy that follows the exploits of teenage outcasts Enid and Rebecca (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) as they navigate the many complexities of burgeoning adulthood. Central to the story is the unlikely friendship that Enid strikes up with a lonesome older man (played by Steve Buscemi), a curious relationship that drifts through various humorous and melancholy situations. It’s an original and often poignant look at alienation and identity, with Birch delivering a wonderfully deadpan and often hilarious performance, despite her entirely pessimistic attitude. It’s the type of film that’s just right when you’re in the mood for something just a little bit different.

(Jamie Rutherford)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alex Solowitz, Ashley Peldon, Bob Balaban, Brad Renfro, Brian George, Bruce Glover, Charles C. Stevenson Jr., Daniel Graves, Dave Sheridan, David Cross, Debi Derryberry, Debra Azar, Diane Salinger, Illeana Douglas, James Sie, Joel Michaely, Joseph Sikora, Joy Bisco, Lauren Bowles, Marc Vann, Matt Doherty, Pat Healy, Patrick Fischler, Rini Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Stacey Travis, Steve Buscemi, T. J. Thyne, Teri Garr, Thora Birch, Tom McGowan, Will Forte
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

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City Island (2009)

City Island is a lighthearted comedy/drama about the Rizzo family, residents of the titular fishing community in The Bronx, New York. Andy Garcia plays the patriarch of the family who works as a corrections officer, and who decides one day to bring home a young ex-con named Tony under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Tony soon becomes entwined in the dysfunctional household as he develops varying relationships with each family member, even as each of them lives their own secret life apart from the rest. This secrecy drives much of the plot, as their personal mysteries play out in an unexpected and often amusing ways. It’s a lively slice-of-life full of boisterous characters, comedic misunderstandings and ultimately a warm embrace of family unity.

(Jamie Rutherford)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alan Arkin, Andy Garcia, Carrie Baker Reynolds, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Emily Mortimer, Ezra Miller, Hope Glendon-Ross, Julianna Margulies, Louis Mustillo, Steven Strait
Director: Raymond De Felitta
Rating: PG-13
Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton) was a man with big glasses and even bigger dreams. As a physically disabled child-turned-oddly determined young adult, he tried his hands at all kinds of sports to earn himself a place in United Kingdom’s Team, only to be shunned and rejected more times than one can count. While his coming home a hero can easily be attributed to Great Britain’s lack of a ski jumper representative to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the world has Eddie’s perseverance and never-say-die attitude to thank. A story about conquering greater heights and just taking flight, Eddie the Eagle shows the world how winning doesn’t always mean taking home the crown.

(Christina Hale)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, History
Actor: Christopher Walken, Daniel Ings, Dexter Fletcher, Dickon Tolson, Edvin Endre, Hugh Jackman, Iris Berben, Jim Broadbent, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Mads Sjogard Pettersen, Marc Benjamin, Mark Benton, Rune Temte, Taron Egerton, Tim McInnerny, Tom Costello
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Rating: PG-13
Boy (2012)

Boy is the highest-grossing New Zealand film of all time, and a masterpiece of compassion and good humor. Set in New Zealand's rural East Coast in 1984, the film's protagonist, Boy, imagines a world outside, dreaming of meeting Michael Jackson and having adventures. These fantasies serve to distract him from the sad circumstances of his life, living with his grandmother while his father serves out a prison sentence. However, adventure comes to Boy suddenly when his ex-convict father returns to find a long hidden bag of money. Written, directed, and starring Taika Waitit and featuring the new comer James Rolleston as Boy, it's a hilarious and heartwarming tale.

(Melanie Graham)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Cherilee Martin, Haze Rewiti, James Rolleston, Maakariini Butler, Moerangi Tihore, Pana Hema-Taylor, Rachel House, Rajvinder Eria, RickyLee Waipuka-Russell, Stuart Rutherford, Taika Waititi, Te Aho Eketone-Whitu
Director: Taika Waititi, Topaz Adizes
Rating: Not Rated
Frances Ha (2013)

Frances (Greta Gerwig) lives in New York – but not the glamorous NYC of Woody Allen movies. Taking place primarily in the gritty and rapidly gentrifying North Brooklyn, the black and white film paints a picture of an extended adolescence. Focusing on the goofy and carefree Frances, who loses her boyfriend, her best friend and her dream of being a dancer. She moves in with two guys, both of whom are more successful than her, and becomes even more determined to fulfil her goals, impractical as they may be. Fans of HBO’s Girls and other odes to not being a “real person” yet will love this film.

(Christina Ienna)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Adam Driver, Britta Phillips, Charlotte d'Amboise, Cindy Katz, Dean Wareham, Finnerty Steeves, Grace Gummer, Greta Gerwig, Hannah Dunne, Isabelle McNally, Josh Hamilton, Juliet Rylance, Justine Lupe, Lindsay Burdge, Marina Squerciati, Maya Kazan, Michael Esper, Michael Zegen, Michelle Hurst, Mickey Sumner, Noah Baumbach, Patrick Heusinger, Peter Scanavino, Ryann Shane, Vanessa Ray
Director: Noah Baumbach
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

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Disconnect (2012)

I watch many movies and the great majority of them leave little impression on me. They are fun and entertaining, but quickly forgettable. Not Disconnect, though. This is a powerful and provocative film that not only keeps you pinned to your seat but also makes you think about the consequences of your actions. It should certainly be a required viewing not only for young people but also for any one who uses social media or communicates via the Internet. Disconnect is a timely, well-written, well-acted, and well-paced movie that stays with you long after you finish watching it. I was also pleased by the fact that the director and writer did not take the easy way out. No glib, predictable solutions here, which is one reason why the film's events linger in your mind.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Colin Ford, Frank Grillo, Haley Ramm, Hope Davis, Jason Bateman, John Sharian, Jonah Bobo, Kasi Lemmons, Max Thieriot, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Tessa Albertson
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Rating: R
The Ice Storm (1997)

Set during the swingin' seventies, two small town Connecticut families are the subject of this visually stunning and somewhat disturbing drama. With an all-star cast that includes Sigourney Weaver as Janey Carver, an unsatisfied housewife and mother of two and Elijah Wood as her eldest son, there's plenty of star power and drama. In addition, director Ang Lee brings his signature sense of trial and unease while unleashing a quirky and pointed 70's aesthetic.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Adam Hann-Byrd, Allison Janney, Barbara Garrick, Byron Jennings, Christina Ricci, Colleen Camp, Courtney Peldon, Daniel McDonald, David Krumholtz, Donna Mitchell, Elijah Wood, Henry Czerny, Jamey Sheridan, Joan Allen, John Benjamin Hickey, Jonathan Freeman, Kate Burton, Katie Holmes, Kevin Kline, Larry Pine, Maia Danziger, Michael Cumpsty, Sarah Thompson, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, William Cain
Director: Ang Lee
Rating: R
Keith (2008)

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this film. I’ll be honest and say I did not really expect much given that it starred Jesse McCartney in the title role. Nevertheless, he managed to really surprise me. McCartney and Harnois have excellent chemistry as Keith and Natalie and you find yourself rooting for them to end up together. The film does a great job at building up their relationship and emotional connection, and it will definitely succeed in pulling at your heartstrings. If you enjoy films in the vein of A Walk to Remember, you should check this one out!

(Ankit Aggarwal)
Genre: Drama, Family, Romance
Actor: Elisabeth Harnois, Ethan Phillips, Gareth Williams, Ian Nelson, Ignacio Serricchio, Jennifer Grey, Jesse Heiman, Jesse McCartney, Jessy Schram, Margo Harshman, Michael McGrady, Michael OKeefe, Rance Howard, Victoria Chalaya
Director: Todd Kessler
Rating: PG-13

More lists

A quick recap

Split by genre of this selection on agoodmovietowatch.com
Comedy
51
Drama
126
Documentary
Romance
31
Average score
76.1%
from our staff
Average score
63.3%
from our users
There are
87
more suggestions in this category.
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