The 50 Best Indie Movies of All-Time

Updated June 13, 2022 • Staff

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. 

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50.

Dear Ex (2018)

Dear Ex is a family drama that explores LGBT+ issues in contemporary Taiwan. As much as it is a movie about how people cope with loss, it’s a powerful, heartwarming, and intimate portrait of the relationship between Jay and Song Zhengyuan and all the obstacles they face.

While the themes of Dear Ex are heavy, the director makes the viewing experience easier for the audience thanks to humorous and witty dialogue. Meanwhile, the history between Jay and Song Zhengyuan’s relationship unfolds in a very beautiful, almost poetic way, and by the end of the movie, we understand that everyone gets their own kind of forgiveness. The way the characters effortlessly show that love is something beyond genders is admirable, and it is great to see how everyone gets their own kind of forgiveness whether it's from themselves or from others by the end of the movie.

Our staff rating: 7.4/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Actor: Ai-Lun Kao, Clover Kao, Danny Liang, Hsieh Ying Shiuan, Hsieh Ying-xuan, Hsin-Ling Chung, Hsu Chih-yen, Joseph Huang, Mag Hsu, Roy Chiu, Spark Chen, Ting-Chien Wu, Yang Li-yin, Ying-Xuan Hsieh
Director: Chih-Yen Hsu, Hsu Chih-yen, Mag Hsu
Rating: TV-MA
49.

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.

Our staff rating: 7.5/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Cherilee Martin, Cohen Holloway, Craig Hall, Darcy Ray Flavell-Hudson, Haze Rewiti, James Rolleston, Jarod Rawiri, Maakariini Butler, Madeleine Sami, Mavis Paenga, Moerangi Tihore, Pana Hema-Taylor, Rachel House, Rajvinder Eria, RickyLee Waipuka-Russell, Stu Rutherford, Stuart Rutherford, Taika Waititi, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu, Te Aho Eketone-Whitu, Tuhoro Ranihera Christie
Director: Taika Waititi, Topaz Adizes
Rating: Not Rated
48.

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.

Our staff rating: 7.7/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Adam Driver, Britta Phillips, Charlotte d'Amboise, Christine Gerwig, Cindy Katz, Daiva Deupree, Dean Wareham, Eleanor Smith, Finnerty Steeves, Gordon Gerwig, Grace Gummer, Greta Gerwig, Hannah Dunne, Isabelle McNally, Josh Hamilton, Juliet Rylance, Justine Lupe, Laura Parker, Lindsay Burdge, Marina Squerciati, Maya Kazan, Michael Esper, Michael Zegen, Michelle Hurst, Mickey Sumner, Noah Baumbach, Patrick Heusinger, Peter Scanavino, Ryann Shane, Teddy Cañez, Vanessa Ray
Director: Noah Baumbach
Rating: R
47.

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.

Our staff rating: 6.9/10
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Antonella Lentini, Cole Mohr, Colin Ford, Erin Wilhelmi, Frank Grillo, Haley Ramm, Hope Davis, Jason Bateman, John Sharian, Jonah Bobo, Kasi Lemmons, Max Thieriot, Michael Nyqvist, Norbert Leo Butz, Paula Patton, Tessa Albertson
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Rating: R
46.

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.

Our staff rating: 6.9/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Adam Hann-Byrd, Allison Janney, Barbara Garrick, Bettina Skye, Byron Jennings, Christina Ricci, Christine Farrell, Colette Kilroy, Colleen Camp, Courtney Peldon, Daniel McDonald, David Krumholtz, Dennis Gagomiros, Donna Mitchell, Elijah Wood, Glenn Fitzgerald, Henry Czerny, Jamey Sheridan, Joan Allen, Joe O'Connor, John Benjamin Hickey, Jonathan Freeman, Kate Burton, Katie Holmes, Kevin Kline, Larry Pine, Maia Danziger, Marcell Rosenblatt, Michael Cumpsty, Sarah Thompson, Scott Wentworth, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, William Cain
Director: Ang Lee
Rating: R
45.

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!

Our staff rating: 6.9/10
Genre: Drama, Family, Romance
Actor: Courtney Halverson, Dennis Cockrum, Elisabeth Harnois, Ethan Phillips, Gareth Williams, Ian Nelson, Ignacio Serricchio, Jan Devereaux, Janice Kent, Jennifer Grey, Jesse Heiman, Jesse McCartney, Jessy Schram, Margo Harshman, Micah Henson, Michael Bryan French, Michael McGrady, Michael OKeefe, Rachel Thorp, Rance Howard, Sam Murphy, Tim Halligan, Victoria Chalaya
Director: Todd Kessler
Rating: PG-13
44.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2012)

Adapted from the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin is the story of a mother (Tilda Swinton) that never quite bonds with her child, but not by her choice. The son grows up to do a heinous act that begs the question: nature or nurture? This film is an uncompromising view on the development of an unloved child. Silent pain gets voice. Feelings are shown by actions not emotions in an authentic, comprehensible and aesthetic manner. Great work.

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Actor: Aaron Blakely, Alex Manette, Andy Gershenzon, Ashley Gerasimovich, Blake DeLong, Caitlin Kinnunen, Daniel Farcher, Erin Darke, Ezra Miller, Georgia X. Lifsher, J. Mallory McCree, James Chen, Jasper Newell, Jeffrey Mowery, Jennifer Kim, John C. Reilly, Joseph Basile, Joseph Melendez, Kenneth Franklin, Kimberley Drummond, Lauren Fox, Leland Alexander Wheeler, Leslie Lyles, Louie Rinaldi, Mark Elliot Wilson, Maryann Urbano, Paul Diomede, Polly Adams, Rebecca Dealy, Rock Duer, Rocky Duer, Simon MacLean, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Suzette Gunn, Tilda Swinton, Ursula Parker
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Rating: R
43.

You Can Count on Me (2000)

Written and directed by Academy-Award-winning Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea, Gangs of New York), you can certainly count on the qualities of this subtle, beautiful, and moving drama about two siblings growing apart and reuniting later in life.

An Academy-Award-nominated Laura Linney plays Sammy, a single mother in a small town who is extremely protective of her 8-year-old son. When her younger and somewhat troubled brother Terry (played by the ever-reliable Mark Ruffalo) visits her out of the blue, Sammy has to deal with a slew of contradicting emotions towards her brother, whose appearance threatens to upend her life as she knew it.

Straight, thoughtful, and beautifully crafted, You Can Count on Me is an honest and genuine exploration of unconditional love in celluloid form. Think of it as much more hopeful The Skeleton Twins.

Our staff rating: 9.4/10
Genre: Drama, Family
Actor: Adam LeFevre, Amy Ryan, Betsy Aidem, Gaby Hoffmann, Halley Feiffer, J. Smith-Cameron, Jon Tenney, Josh Lucas, Kenneth Lonergan, Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Michael Countryman, Nina Garbiras, Rory Culkin, Whitney Vance
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Rating: R
42.

Biutiful (2010)

Ever wondered how much your life will change when faced with the reality that death is about to come? That’s normal, and not nearly as life-altering as being told you only have a few more moments to live. Because of a terminal illness, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is driven to this situation and tries to right his wrongs in the wake of modern Barcelona. This melodrama is supercharged by Bardem’s unearthly performance as the story’s only hero, demonstrating the selfless love of a destroyed and dying father to his children – paired with cinematography unlike any other, this film is exceptionally beautiful. Directed by González Iñárritu' (Babel, Birdman, The Revenant).

Our staff rating: 7.7/10
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Adelfa Calvo, Alain Hernández, Ana Wagener, Cheikh Ndiaye, Cheng Taishen, Diaryatou Daff, Dunia Montenegro, Eduard Fernandez, Félix Cubero, George Chibuikwem Chukwuma, Guillermo Estrella, Hanaa Bouchaib, Isaac Alcayde, Javier Bardem, Jin Luo, Karra Elejalde, Luo Jin, Manolo Solo, Maricel Álvarez, Nasser Saleh, Rubén Ochandiano, Sophie Evans, Taisheng Chen, Tomás del Estal, Violeta Pérez
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Rating: R
41.

Following (1998)

Following is the first movie Christopher Nolan ever directed, a mesmerizing low-budget effort that introduced the world to the genius who will later give us Memento, Inception, The Dark Knight, and many other classics. Shot in "extreme" conditions to quote Nolan himself, for just over £3000, it had to be filmed in the span of a year on Saturdays only and in friends' houses. But almost none of that is visible in the sharp camera work, the magnificent acting (most of it was first or second takes), and the twisted script. It tells the story of an unsuccessful writer (The Young Man) who tries to find inspiration in following random people in the street, and doing it via strict rules. One day he follows a man in a suit (Cobb), who catches him and becomes intrigued by him. It turns out that Cobb has his own fascination with people's intimate lives, of criminal nature, which he lets The Young Man into. Using the same non-linear plot technique as in Memento, this movie is halfway between a thriller and a film noir. The inspiration for it came when Nolan's own apartment in London was robbed, and he was fascinated by the act of strangers going through his personal items. If you take into consideration the conditions of its making, this movie is a masterpiece.

Our staff rating: 7.1/10
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: Alex Haw, Dick Bradsell, Emma Thomas, Gillian El-Kadi, Jennifer Angel, Jeremy Theobald, John Nolan, Lucy Russell, Nicolas Carlotti, Paul Mason, Rebecca James
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating: R

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