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The Ultimate Ranking of the 40 Best Indie Movies of All Time

The Ultimate Ranking of the 40 Best Indie Movies of All Time

There are blockbusters and then there are indie films which work with a limited budget and are produced independently.

But let me tell you a secret: Indie films are often the better movies.

Enjoy my ranking of the 40 world’s best indie movies:

1. American Beauty

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    “I don’t think that there’s anything worse than being ordinary.” —Angela

    American Beauty was one of the many fantastic movies of the 90s. Director Sam Mendes captures the struggles of Lester Burnham, a father caught in a serious midlife crisis, his daughter Jane, who finds love for the first time, and her beautiful yet lonely best friend Angela, played by the stunning Mena Suvari. When everything falls apart, the characters and the watchers start to find beauty in the little things.

    2. The Breakfast Club

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      “When you grow up, your heart dies.” —Allison

      The Breakfast Club is an 80s classic. Five high school students who couldn’t be more different have to spend a Saturday detention session together. During this time they slowly find that apart from all their differences, they can connect on a deeper level. All five actors do a great job by first giving a cliché version of their characters and then turning them into human beings. Everyone—no matter what age—can learn something from these teenagers.

      3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

        “We accept the love we think we deserve.” —Charlie

        Based on a novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows emotional unstable Charlie through his first high school year. He soon becomes friends with a pretty girl named Sam and her gay half-brother Patrick. They teach Charlie that it’s okay to enjoy life and to forget your troubles for a while. This book adaption is starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, and not only will you realize that we all struggle with life once in a while, you will also learn a lot about music and real friendship.

        4. Factory Girl

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          “Divorced as many times as she married, she leaves only good wishes behind.” —Edie

          This indie film shows the life of fashion icon and Andy Warhol’s muse Edie Sedgwick. Edie travels to New York and leads a turbulent life in Warhol’s famous factory where art, love and lust play hand-in-hand. The movie captures Edie’s sparkling spirit and her tragic downfall in a way that will keep you on your toes until the very last minute.

          5. The Blair Witch Project

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            “It’s not the same on film, is it? I mean, you know it’s real but it’s like looking through the lens gives you some sort of protection from what’s on the other side.” —Joshua

            This horror movie terrifies its watchers because of the amateur filming which makes it seem like a real story. Three young movie makers set out into the woods to produce a documentation of the myth of the Blair Witch. Little do they know that the legend is still alive and waiting for its next victims. If you’re a friend of breathtaking and nightmare-producing movies, The Blair Witch Project by directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez is your way to go.

            6. Ramen Girl

              “Somewhere along the way, I just forgot what I wanted to do with my life.” —Abby

              In one of the last movies of the late Brittany Murphy, she portrays Abby who follows her boyfriend to Tokyo just to get dumped. In her crisis, Ally realizes that she has long given up going after her own dreams and decides to set herself a new goal: she wants to become a ramen cook. In this indie film by Robert Allen Ackerman. you can learn a lot about the Japanese culinary and spiritual world and see how it’s sometimes in your hardest times where you find your true strength.

              7. Ellie Parker

                “I remember when the future was a promise, now it’s like a threat.” —Ellie

                This is a widely un-known little independent movie by Scott Coffey staring Naomi Watts. As a young wannabe actress in LA, Ellie has to deal with many job rejections and a disastrous love life. The movie portrays LA and the movie industry as a tough business which will make even the biggest blockbuster fans see their stars in a different way.

                8. Pulp Fiction

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                  “Play with matches, you get burned.” —Vincent

                  This movie is a cult film. In Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman create a funny and exciting gangster comedy. The movie has many long dialogues, but Tarantino makes it work and ties all the different plot lines together for a spectacular finale. Seriously, if you have never watched this movie, do it now.

                  9. The Boat That Rocked

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                    “Nothing important dies tonight, just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight is that, in future years, there’ll be so many fantastic songs that it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will still be written, they will still be sung and they will be the wonder of the world.”  —The Count

                    This movie is guaranteed to make you laugh. Young Carl gets sent by his mother to live on a boat which hosts a pirate radio station. In the 60s, Rock’n’Roll was still frowned upon in Great Britain, which is why rock stations had to send from a secret frequency. On the Rock Boat live the funniest and craziest radio speakers who know how a lot about music and about having a good time.

                    10. Secretary

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                      “Who’s to say that love needs to be soft and gentle?!” —Dr. Twardon

                      This is a movie for those of you who like it sexy. When Lee starts her new job as a secretary, little does she know that her boss will soon not only be interested in her but also has some rather exquisite tastes in sexual adventures. Steven Shainberg’s erotic romance combines pleasure and pain in a classy way.

                      11. Requiem for a Dream

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                        “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world. You’re my dream.” —Harry

                        This famous indie film stars Jared Leto as a handsome but broken drug addict. Not only he but also his girlfriend, his best friend and his mother are caught in the downward spiral that is drug abuse. Requiem for a dream is a tough and often ugly but completely true movie. It will leave you with the need of never doing drugs.

                        12. Thirteen

                          “If everybody married someone from a different race, then in one generation there would be no prejudice.” —Tracy

                          Thirteen shows the life of normal but unhappy teenage girl, Tracy. When she meets the adventurous Evie, everything changes. For the first time in her life she is popular and cool and has fun. But her new lifestyle comes at a cost that will soon be to much for Tracy to pay.

                          13. Donnie Darko

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                            “Some people are just born with tragedy in their blood.” —Gretchen

                            Donnie Darko is a classic which combines romance, growing up and mystery. This indie film will make you want to watch it again and again, which is what you have to do in order to make sense of all the ambiguous events and plot twists of this movie.

                            14. The Virgin Suicides

                              “Obviously, Doctor… you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.” —Cecelia

                              Based on a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides director Sophia Coppola made this story into a movie in 1999. The Lisbon daughters were raised as good catholic girls who were never allowed to live their lives like other teenagers do. The situation escalates when 14-year-old Lux stays away a whole night. The sisters are forbidden to leave the house and become more and more depressed until they make a tragic decision.

                              15. The Runaways

                                “No guys, man. I want to start an all-girls rock band.” —Joan

                                This 2010 american movie tells the story of the 80s girl-rock-band the Runaways. From fame, over music to drugs—the movie has everything a rock film should have. Kristen Stewart gives a great performance as rock-legend Joan Jett who became famous with her hit “I love Rock’n’Roll.”

                                16. Poison Ivy

                                  “She might have been even more alone than I was.” —Silvie

                                  One of Drew Barrymore’s many great movies tells the story of nice teenage girl Silvie. As soon as the wild girl Ivy enters her life, nothing is calm anymore but she finds herself caught in one big adventure.

                                  17. 500 Days of Summer

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                                    “People don’t realize this. But loneliness is underrated.” —Tom

                                    In this romantic comedy, Joseph-Gorden Levitt and Zoey Dechanel show a great performance. As Summer and Tom, they fall in love and spend a romantic few months together until things start to fall apart. Through this movie you can learn a lot about relationships as well as about commitment issues.

                                    18. Moonrise Kingdom

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                                      “I love you but you don’t know what you’re talking about.” —Sam

                                      At first sight you might think that Moonrise Kingdom is a children’s movie but I promise if you watch it you can learn a lot no matter how old you are. The movie shows the adventures at a scout summer camp and the beautiful friendship between Sam and Suzy.

                                      19. Run Lola Run

                                        “Man … probably the most mysterious specious on our planet.” —Narrator

                                        This is a fast independent movie which shows different possible versions of how the story might take place which all involve a lot of running. Run Lola Run is a German movie by director Tom Tyker which has become a must-watch for many film lovers.

                                        20. Being John Malkovitch

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                                          “Nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate.” —Craig

                                          This movie combines fantasy, comedy and drama while telling the crazy story of its unemployed anti-hero Craig. The plot line is well-written and the cast including John Cusack and Cameron Diaz all do a fantastic job.

                                          21. Reservoir Dogs

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                                            “It’s amusing to me, to torture a cop.” —Mr. Blonde

                                            Reservoir Dogs is another great Quentin Tarantino film featuring a crime story and many interesting dialogues. It is very popular and was even named “Greatest independent film of all time” by Empire magazine.

                                            22. Memento

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                                              “I have to believe in a world outside my own mind.” —Leonard

                                              This psycho thriller is very popular in the independent film scene. Memento is a little disturbing but fascinating. Half of the movie is black-and-white and shown chronologically, while the other half is colored and shown in reverse order. In the end, both plot lines are combined.

                                              23. The Meaning of Life

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                                                “Hindu, Taoist, Mormon spill theirs just anywhere, But God loves those who treat their semen with more care.” —Mum

                                                In this film, once again Monty Python captures the world in an honest though slightly confusing way. If you’re hoping to find answers to all of life’s big questions in this film, I have to disappoint you. But what you will find are a lot of laughter and sarcasm and a sense of the fact that even if life can be cruel, you should never take it too seriously.

                                                24. Brokeback Mountain

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                                                  “I wish I knew how to quit you.” -—Jack

                                                  This cult film is one of the first gay romances which is neither distasteful nor full of cliches. It tells the love story of Ennis and Jack, played by Heath Ledger and Jack Gyllenhaal, who flee to the lonely Brokeback Mountain because it’s the only place where they can celebrate their love.

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                                                  25. No Country for Old Men

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                                                    “A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say: ‘O.K., I’ll be part of this world.'” —Sherrif Ed

                                                    This indie film is a western crime drama. The antagonist Anton is a serial murderer with mental issues. The conflicts between him and protagonist Sherrif Ed Tom Bell make the movie interesting. One thing you’ll learn from this movie is that nothing ever comes as you expect.

                                                    26. Before Sunrise

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                                                      “If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed, but…who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.” —Celine

                                                      Jesse and Celine meet each other on a train ride and decide to spend the night together in Vienna. They have a fun, crazy and romantic night but then have to go back to their own lives.

                                                      27. Before Sunset

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                                                        “Now I’m older and my problems are deeper, but I’m more equipped to handle them.” —Jesse

                                                        Also the second part of the heartbreaking love story is an ode to following your guts. Celine and Jesse meet each other for the first time in nine years and this time spend a day in Paris.

                                                        28. Juno

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                                                          “Can’t we just like kick this old school? You know, like I stick the baby in a basket, send it your way, like Moses and the reeds?” —Juno

                                                          This movie transforms the hard topic of teenage pregnancy into a funny and sweet experience. Regardless of the tough topic of the film, it leaves you with a warm feeling.

                                                          29. Happiness

                                                          HAPPINESS

                                                            “I know who you are and you are nothing.” —Allen

                                                            Despite the title, this movie shows the lives of several pretty miserable people who sooner or later find some happiness even if it’s small and unconventional. I have to warn you. This movie is only suited for people with a dark humor.

                                                            30. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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                                                              “But had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected, nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day.” —Narrator

                                                              Also an independent movie, this film is nothing for people with weak nerves. Director Tobe Hooper’s classic slasher film is a raw and pure horror movie and ideal for a scary night with your friends.

                                                              31. Submarine

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                                                                “Sometimes I wish there was a film crew following my every move.” —Oliver

                                                                After Texas Chainsaw Massacre I recommend watching Submarine in order to calm your nerves before you go to sleep.

                                                                32. The Science of Sleep

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                                                                  “Things will turn out the way you want, if you could just stop doubting that I love you.” —Stephanie

                                                                  In this movie you can learn a lot about dreams. The main character Stephane’s dreams are so vivid that they interfere with his real life. This french fantasy story is a definite feel-good movie.

                                                                  33. Lost in Translation

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                                                                    “My Japanese is getting better. We started speaking English.” —Bob

                                                                    This film, starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johanson, is directed by Sofia Coppola. Charlotte has travelled with her husband to Tokyo but is soon left alone by him. A romance between Charlotte and Bob starts and the watcher gets an impression of Tokyo’s exciting and sometimes hilarious atmosphere.

                                                                    34. The Usual Suspects

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                                                                      “I’m the guy that’s gonna get you. I just wanted you to know that.” —Michael

                                                                      The usual suspects is a crime thriller which shows how a bunch of elderly gangsters get along. This film is widely popular but started out as a little independent film.

                                                                      35. Life of Brian

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                                                                        “Always look on the bright side of life.” —Jesus

                                                                        This is another Monty Python cult film which features in a humorous way the life of Jesus Christ. Though this movie will make most people laugh out loud, extremly religious people would do better if they stayed far away from it.

                                                                        36. The Terminator

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                                                                          “You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve… I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have.” —Kyle

                                                                          You may not believe it but the series that made Arnold Schwatzenegger famous started as an indie film. So if you’re into machines and wars and strong guys, you should definitely try out Terminator.

                                                                          37. Little Miss Sunshine

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                                                                            “Luck is the name losers give to their own failings.” —Richard

                                                                            Here is another feel-good movie. The movie of a funny road trip is the debut film of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. It quickly became popular.

                                                                            38. Night of the Living Dead

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                                                                              “Don’t you know what’s goin’ on out there? This is no Sunday School picnic!” —Ben

                                                                              Night of the Living Dead is a plain and good zombie movie from the 60s. While the technology wasn’t that advanced back then, it still offers many good scares.

                                                                              39. Stranger than Paradise

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                                                                                “I’m choking the alligator.” —Eva

                                                                                Stranger than Paradise is a comedy from the 80s which revolves around Willie, Evy and Eddie and their crazy adventures in New York.

                                                                                40. Sex, Lies, and Videotape

                                                                                  “I remember reading somewhere that men learn to love the person that they’re attracted to, and that women become more and more attracted to the person that they love.” —Graham

                                                                                  In this classic independent fill, all three aspects of the title are combined in a beautiful but also dramatic way. The movie was directed by Steven Sonderbergh and has won the Golden Palm at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                                                                  Sunita Sukhana

                                                                                  editor, writer, student

                                                                                  The Ultimate Ranking of the 40 Best Indie Movies of All Time

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                                                                                  Last Updated on April 8, 2020

                                                                                  11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

                                                                                  11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

                                                                                  We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

                                                                                  How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

                                                                                  What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

                                                                                  1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

                                                                                  It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

                                                                                  The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

                                                                                  2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

                                                                                  Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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                                                                                  3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

                                                                                  Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

                                                                                  Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

                                                                                  4. They Know How To Inspire

                                                                                  Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

                                                                                  Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

                                                                                  5. They Set Clear Goals

                                                                                  The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

                                                                                  Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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                                                                                  Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

                                                                                  6. They Are Organized

                                                                                  It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

                                                                                  This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

                                                                                  Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

                                                                                  7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

                                                                                  Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

                                                                                  But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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                                                                                  8. They Love Awards

                                                                                  Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

                                                                                  While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

                                                                                  9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

                                                                                  Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

                                                                                  The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

                                                                                  10. They Rest

                                                                                  Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

                                                                                  True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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                                                                                  11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

                                                                                  A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

                                                                                  Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

                                                                                  You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

                                                                                  More Tips to Help You Achieve Success

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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