Thursday, January 19, 2012

200 Indie Movies About Modern America



Whilst nearly all these films were financed by independent companies (i.e. not one of the Hollywood majors) this list is more about an independent style or spirit than anything else, with a particular focus on low-budget dramas and comedy-dramas, made post-1980 and set in contemporary America. Movie-makers have been trying to break free of the big studios and not make a ‘Hollywood product’ since the 50’s at least but the forerunners of the indie spirit I’m most interested in were quirky 70’s character studies like Brewster McCloud, Harold and Maude, Scarecrow and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. It’s the modern form of that ethos that I’ve attempted to list here: Rushmore, Greenberg, Garden State, Juno, Clerks, that kind of thing.

I’ve left out documentaries, period pieces, star-packed epics like Magnolia, particularly violent films (hence no Tarantino), wholly surreal films (hence little David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman), and out-and-out pure genre films, including comedies (the Farrelly Brothers), thrillers (The Usual Suspects), sci-fi (Moon), and horror (The Blair Witch Project). Instead I’ve concentrated on script- and character-driven movies with a low-key aesthetic. They typically have a novelistic feel to them, and concern everyday people, often suburban misfits full of ironic detachment. They might contain some gunplay but not in a pumped-up, action-film way, and the comedy in them is usually wry comedy or black comedy.

In terms of quality, not all the films here are masterpieces by any means but if I’ve seen a movie and thought it a complete waste of time -like Paranoid Park or I Heart Huckabees, for example- I’ve left it out.

 
1.    A Serious Man (Joel Coen, 2009)
2.    About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, 2002)
3.    After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985)
4.    Amateur (Hal Hartley, 1994)
5.    American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman/Robert Pulcini, 2003)
6.    Amreeka (Cherien Dabis, 2009)
7.    Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff, 2006)
8.    Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff, 2003)
9.    Beautiful Girls (Ted Demme, 1996)
10.  Beginners (Mike Mills, 2011) 
11.  Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010) 
12.  Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson, 1996)
13.  Box of Moonlight (Tom DiCillo, 1996)
14.  Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999)
15.  Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (John Krasinski, 2009)
16.  Bring It On (Peyton Reed, 2000)
17.  Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)
18.  Buffalo '66 (Vincent Gallo, 1998).
19.  Cedar Rapids (Miguel Arteta, 2011)
20.  Chan Is Missing (Wayne Wang, 1982)
21.  Chasing Amy (Kevin Smith, 1997)
22.  Choke (Clark Gregg, 2007)
23.  Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, 2008)
24.  Citizen Ruth (Alexander Payne, 1996)
25.  City Of Hope (John Sayles, 1991) 
26.  Claire Dolan (Lodge Kerrigan, 1998)
27.  Clean, Shaven (Lodge Kerrigan, 1994)
28.  Clerks (Kevin Smith, 1994)
29.  Coffee And Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch, 2003)
30.  Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper, 2009) 
31.  Dazed And Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)
32.  Delirious (Tom Dicillo, 2006)
33.  Dim Sum: A Little Bit Of Heart (Wayne Wang, 1985)
34.  Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
35.  Double Whammy (Tom DiCillo, 2001)
36.  Down By Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986)
37.  Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant, 1989)
38.  Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)
39.  Elephant (Gus Van Sant,  2003)
40.  Everything Must Go (Dan Rush, 2011) 
41.  Fargo (Joel Coen, 1996)
42.  Flirt (Hal Hartley, 1995)
43.  Flirting With Disaster (David O Russell, 1996)
44.  Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, 2008)
45.  Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski, 2004)
46.  Funny People (Judd Apatow, 2009)
47.  Garden State (Zach Braff, 2004)
48.  Gas, Food Lodging (Alison Anders, 1992)
49.  George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000)
50.  Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2000)
51.  Go Fish (Rose Troche, 1994)
52.  Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant, 1997)
53.  Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2009)
54.  Greenberg (Noah Baumbach, 2010)
55.  Gummo (Harmony Korine, 1997)
56.  Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, 2006)
57.  Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1998)
58.  Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1996)
59.  Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1989)
60.  Heavy (James Mangold, 1995)
61.  Henry Fool (Hal Hartley, 1997)
62.  High Art (Lisa Cholodenko, 1998)
63.  High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000)
64.  Honeydripper (John Sayles, 2007)
65.  Igby Goes Down (Burr Steers, 2002)
66.  In America (Jim Sheridan, 2003)
67.  In The Bedroom (Todd Field, 2001)
68.  In The Company Of Men (Neil Labute, 1997)
69.  In The Soup (Alexandre Rockwell, 1992)
70.  Johnny Suede (Tom DiCillo, 1991)
71.  Julien Donkey-boy (Harmony Korine, 1999)
72.  Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2005)
73.  Jungle Fever (Spike Lee, 1991)
74.  Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
75.  Keane (Lodge Kerrigan, 2005)
76.  Kids (Larry Clark, 1995)
77.  Kissing Jessica Stein (Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, 2001)
78.  Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007)
79.  Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis, 1995)
80.  Lianna (John Sayles, 1982) 
81.  Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz, 2009)
82.  Limbo (John Sayles, 1999) 
83.  Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)
84.  Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris, 2006)
85.  Living In Oblivion (Tom Dicillo, 1995)
86.  Lovely & Amazing (Nicole Holofcener, 2001)
87.  Made (Jon Favreau, 2001)
88.  Mala Noche (Gus Van Sant, 1985)
89.  Man Push Cart (Ramin Bahrani, 2005)
90.  Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
91.  Margot At The Wedding (Noah Baumbach, 2007)
92.  Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011) 
93.  Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005)
94.  Mean Creek (Jacob Aaron Estes, 2004)
95.  Metropolitan (Whit Stillman, 1990)
96.  Mi Vida Loca (Alison Anders, 1993)
97.  Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair, 1992)
98.  Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003)
99.  Monster's Ball (Marc Forster, 2001)
100.My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991)
101.Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004)
102.Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 1989)
103.Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004)
104.Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett, 2008)
105.Night On Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991)
106.Nurse Betty (Neil Labute, 2000)
107.Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)
108.Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2007)
109.Palindromes (Todd Solondz, 2004)
110.Palookaville (Alan Taylor, 1995)
111.Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
112.Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood, 1986)
113.Passion Fish (John Sayles, 1992)
114.Pecker (John Waters, 1998)
115.Personal Velocity (Rebecca Miller, 2002)
116.Pieces Of April (Peter Hedges, 2003)
117.Poison (Todd Haynes, 1991)
118.Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (Lee Daniels, 2009)
119.Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
120.Putty Hill (Matthew Porterfield, 2010)
121.Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
122.Raising Arizona (Joel Coen, 1987)
123.Raising Victor Vargas (Peter Sollett, 2003)
124.Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984)
126.River's Edge (Tim Hunter, 1986)
127.Ruby In Paradise (Victor Nunez, 1993)
128.Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
129.Safe (Todd Haynes, 1995)
130.Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh, 1989)
131.Sherrybaby (Laurie Collyer, 2006)
132.She's Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986)
133.She's So Lovely (Nick Cassavetes, 1997)
134.She's The One (Edward Burns, 1996)
135.Shopgirl (Anand Tucker, 2005)
136.Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)
137.Shotgun Stories (Jeff Nichols, 2007)
138.Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)
139.Simple Men (Hal Hartley, 1992)
140.Singles (Cameron Crowe, 1992)
141.Slacker (Richard Linklater, 1991)
142.Slam (Marc Levin, 1998)
143.Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton, 1996)
144.Smoke (Wayne Wang/Paul Auster, 1995)
145.Spanking The Monkey (David O Russell, 1994)
146.Storytelling (Todd Solondz, 2001)
147.Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1983)
148.SubUrbia (Richard Linklater, 1996)
149.Sunshine State (John Sayles, 2002)
150.Swingers (Doug Liman, 1996)
151.Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
152.Tape (Richard Linklater, 2001)
153.The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
154.The Brothers McMullen (Edward Burns, 1995)
155.The Daytrippers (Greg Mottola, 1998)
156.The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011) 
157.The Fighter (David O. Russell, 2010)
158.The Future (Miranda July, 2011)
159.The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)
160.The Last Days Of Disco (Whit Stillman, 1998)
161.The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
162.The Music of Chance (Philip Haas, 1993)
163.The Opposite Of Sex (Don Roos, 1998)
164.The Real Blonde (Tom DiCillo, 1998)
165.The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
166.The Savages (Tamara Jenkins, 2007)
167.The Shape Of Things (Neil Labute, 2003)
168.The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
169.The Station Agent (Thomas Mccarthy, 2003)
170.The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999)
171.The Unbelievable Truth (Hal Hartley, 1989)
172.The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999)
173.The Visitor (Thomas Mccarthy, 2008)
174.The Wackness (Jonathan Levine, 2008)
175.The Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000)
176.The Woodsman (Nicole Kassel, 2004)
177.The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)
178.Thirteen (Catherine Hardwicke, 2003)
179.Thumbsucker (Mike Mills, 2005)
180.Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham, 2010)
181.To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)
182.Towelhead (Alan Ball, 2007)
183.Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005)
184.Trees Lounge (Steve Buscemi, 1996)
185.Trust (Hal Hartley, 1990)
186.Tully (Hilary Birmingham, 2002)
187.Tumbleweeds (Gavin O’Conner, 1999)
188.Twin Falls Idaho (Michael Polish, 1999)
189.Ulee's Gold (Victor Nunez, 1997)
190.Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007)
191.Walking and Talking (Nicole Holofcener, 1996)
192.Welcome To The Dollhouse (Todd Solondz, 1995)
193.Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008)
194.What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (Lasse Hallstrom, 1993)
195.Win Win (Thomas Mccarthy, 2011)
196.Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)
197.You Can Count On Me (Kenneth Lonergan, 2000)
198.Young Adult (Jason Reitman, 2011)
199.Your Friends & Neighbors (Neil Labute, 1998)
200.Youth in Revolt (Miguel Arteta, 2010)




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