If you’re looking for classic indie films to binge watch over the weekend, look no further. Based on inclusion in a number of Top 50 lists, what follow are the Top 10 most loved films created outside of the big studio system.
Micro-budget filmmakers take note: The film with the smallest budget on the list is Clerks, directed by Kevin Smith, which was made in 1993 for USD$23,000 (USD$27,575 in today’s dollars.) It went on to gross a whopping USD$3.2 million worldwide. And so, really, here are the Top 10 Most Loved Indie Films (So Far) — will your micro-budget film be on the list some day?
” Then what do they call it?”
“ They call it a Royale with cheese.”
Pulp Fiction is arguably Quentin Tarantino’s greatest film. The film itself is filled with quotes that are referenced widely in other films and popular culture. This includes big budget films such as Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier and widely loved shows such as the Simpsons and Family Guy. Pulp Fiction also premiered in the UK at the Raindance Film Festival.
Dazed and Confused
“That’s what I like about these high school girls, I get older and they stay the same age.”
This is an age-old iconic line that launched the careers of actor Matthew McConaughey and director Richard Linklater. It’s a great coming-of-age story that perfectly sums up the challenges of being a teenager in the 1970s.
The Breakfast Club
“Don’t you forget about me.” *fist pump*
From the genius who brought us Sixteen Candles, Home alone, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club has stood the test of time. The characters are all relate-able, coming from different cliques and forced uncomfortably together by detention. This popular comedy also dared to be different as it highlighted darker issues that teenagers deal with like mental illness and teen suicide.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be here today.”
Clerks explored groups of people who weren’t part of the jock and nerd demographic but were instead somewhere in the middle. The movie tells a very simple story of people who are just trying to get by. This cult film also launched the career of Kevin Smith who shot it in the convenience store where he actually worked.
“If God controlled time, then the time is pre-decided.”
This film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001 and then had a very short theatrical run before going to video. Due to the film’s ad containing a crashing plane around the time of 9/11, the film wasn’t advertised all that much. Despite its low-key marketing, it still gained a huge following and was the launch pad for Jake Gyllenhaal’s rise to stardom.
The Big Lebowski
“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
Leaving aside the big sci-fi franchise movies, there are very few films that have such a devoted following as The Big Lebowski. The annual Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, includes screenings of the film, a costume contest, unlimited bowling, and live music. Lebowski fans, known as Achievers, are possibly some of the most dedicated fans of any indie film out there. The lovable character of The Dude was actually inspired by a man named Jeff Dowd, who was, in fact, a ’60s radical and indie film promoter. And that famous White Russian cocktail itself is now even referred to by some as a Big Lebowski.
“Tina, you fat lard, come get some DINNER!”
Premiering at Sundance in 2004, Napoleon Dynamite gained huge buzz as the alt-comedy darling of the ’00s. It perfectly describes the struggle of the high school hierarchy chain –; except with an absurd comedic twist. The film jump-started the careers of star Jon Heder and director Jared Hess. The bootleg edition of the film was screened in LA at Beyond Fest in 2017.
Also, please remember to vote for Pedro!
“What’s your name?”
“Go away? That’s a weird name.”
With this post being published on Valentine’s Day, it wouldn’t have felt right to leave Blue Valentine off the list. This bittersweet film tells the story of two lovers who have fallen out of love. To prepare for the role and at the behest of the director, Ryan Gosling went as far as moving in with his co-star Michelle Williams and their onscreen child for a month (though it was only during the day.) If that’s not dedication… I don’t know what is.
“Straight away he clocked us for what we were. Small-time wasters with an accidental big deal.”
This film accurately depicts drug abuse in a way that other films hadn’t done before. The brilliant Scottish humour and the characters themselves made the social issues in the film more accessible for viewers. Trainspotting was the film that launched Ewan McGregor’s career from an under-the-radar actor to leading man in Hollywood. The following for the film is so large a sequel was finally created over 20 years later.
Lost in Translation
“Let’s never come here again because it would never be as much fun.”
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, the film takes an aging actor played by Bill Murray and tells the story of his loneliness in Tokyo, one of the most populated cities on Earth. The ending of the film left people speculating as to what Scarlett Johansson’s character whispers in Bill Murray’s ear. The film’s following is still so large today, due in part to wondering what she says. We’re still waiting, Scarlett… still waiting…
Are you ready to make the next breakout micro-budget feature? Let Raindance Founder Elliot Grove teach you the tips, tricks and techniques in his Lo-to-No Budget Filmmaking weekend intensive. Coming back to Toronto March 10/11!