Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Top Thirty Indie Films

by Sophia Savage
September 29, 2010 5:23 AM
19 Comments
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood

Check out this list of the 30 most significant indie films in the last 30 years (full list, which includes three edited by the late great Sally Menke, is below).

To celebrate its 30th Anniversary, The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) picked the 30 most influential films of the past 30 years. Twenty-seven members of IFTA's board of directors culled through indie-financed pics from all over the world, looking at innovative style, critical acclaim, awards and talent discovery. Says chairman Lloyd Kaufman: "From Oscar winners to controversial and visionary game changers, independent films have shaped and defined the film industry and popular culture over the last 30 years."

The thirty week series kicks off at L.A.'s American Cinematheque Wednesday night with director Jim Sheridan presenting his 1989 My Left Foot (featuring Daniel Day Lewis's Oscar winning performance) at the Egyptian Theatre.

1980s

Thompson on Hollywood
Amadeus; Blue Velvet; Dances With Wolves; Das Boot (The Boat); Gandhi; My Left Foot; A Nightmare On Elm Street; Platoon; Sex, Lies and Videotape; The Terminator.

(Honorary mentions: The Killing Fields; The Last Emperor; The Toxic Avenger)

1990s

Thompson on Hollywood
Braveheart; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Fargo; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Life Is Beautiful; Pulp Fiction; Reservoir Dogs; The Silence of the Lambs; The Usual Suspects; Where the Day Takes You.

(Honorary mentions: Basic Instinct, Good Will Hunting; Trainspotting)

2000s

Thompson on Hollywood
Brokeback Mountain; Crash; The Hurt Locker; Inglourious Basterds; Juno; Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring; Million Dollar Baby; Monster; The Pianist; Slumdog Millionaire.

(Honorary mentions: Bowling for Columbine; Memento; Twilight)

19 Comments

  • PETER HEHU | September 30, 2010 12:17 PMReply

    OHH I TELL YOU IT;S FANTASTIC

  • A-K87 | September 30, 2010 11:55 AMReply

    Some of you guys don't know what 'indie' means. It's nothing to do with spirit. It is short for 'independent'. All of the films listed are independent for any major studio affiliation WHEN they were produced.

  • Tedd R. | September 30, 2010 9:03 AMReply

    Its like whoever made this list only ever saw THESE movies and never really dug any deeper. I think I'd feel awkward having a conversation with this person.

  • DJ Young | September 30, 2010 7:45 AMReply

    LOTR is not indie - Heavenly Creatures, however, was - and deserves a mention on any list.

    How about these:

    1980s: Babette's Feast, Dreamchild, Brazil, After Hours, The Company of Wolves, Gregory's Girl, Heathers, Kiss of the Spider Woman, My Dinner With Andre, Withnail & I, Wings of Desire, Do the Right Thing

    1990s: Heavenly Creatures, All Over Me, Before Sunrise, The Blair Witch Project (just for sheer chutzpah), Bound, Clerks, Cronos, Dark City, Delicatessen, eXistenZ, Fargo, Kids, 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin, Trainspotting, Three Colors: Blue, The Virgin Suicides

    2000s: Away From Her, Bowling for Columbine, District 9, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ghost World, The Life Aquatic, The Lives of Others, Maria Full of Grace, Mulholland Drive, Persepolis, Requiem For a Dream, Shaun of the Dead, The Squid and the Whale, Tideland

  • Brian | September 30, 2010 7:39 AMReply

    By my count, there are 13 Best Picture Oscar winners on that list. That's NOT what most people mean or think of when they say or hear "indie films."

  • BG | September 30, 2010 6:59 AMReply

    Addendum: IMDb says $53 mil for "Braveheart". Still not "indie".

  • BG | September 30, 2010 6:58 AMReply

    I had to check on "Braveheart"...Wiki (I know, I know) says it was made for $72M. That is nowhere near indie. This list seems to be a mish-mash of films that got a lot of critical acclaim and/or won a ton of Oscars in their respective decades.

    And how did "The Toxic Avenger" get thrown in?

  • Apositt | September 30, 2010 4:57 AMReply

    The list simply does not reflect the most "significant" indies. If so, Thompson needs to explain why. In the 80's, I'll give him "Sex, Lies and Videotape." It created a genre - post-modern suburban psycho-drama. In the 90's: Okay, "The Usual Suspects." Created the cool not-Italian violent crime drama. In the '00's: only the one, "Monster." For better or worse, made the beautiful stars want to do their I-can-be-unattractive-too serious roles.

  • Kim Louth | September 30, 2010 4:42 AMReply

    DANCES WITH WOLVES??? One of the worst ever made ?!?!?

  • Griff | September 30, 2010 3:17 AMReply

    A line should have been drawn here between truly independent productions and films produced by, well, indie units of major studios. I can't accept the notion that PULP FICTION, for instance, financed by the Walt Disney Company, is an independent film. The pictures produced by New Line after it became a unit of Time Warner fall under the same category. [I grudgingly accept the idea that Orion was so small that it qualified as an "indie" -- this would have horrified Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin.] I also have some issues with the listing of BRAVEHEART, though I believe Icon would have likely gone ahead and made that film even without its significant backing from Fox and Paramount (in contrast, Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, conspicuously absent from this list, was a true independent).

  • Griff | September 30, 2010 3:15 AMReply

    A line should have been drawn here between truly independent productions and films produced by, well, indie units of major studios. I can't accept the notion that PULP FICTION, for instance, financed by the Walt Disney Company, is an independent film. The pictures produced by New Line after it became a unit of Time Warner fall under the same category. [I grudgingly accept the idea that Orion was so small that it qualified as an "indie" -- this would have horrified Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin.] I also have some issues with the listing of BRAVEHEART, though I believe Icon would have likely gone ahead and made that film even without its significant backing from Fox and Paramount (in contrast, Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, conspicuously absent from this list, was a true independent).

  • xxyzz | September 30, 2010 2:11 AMReply

    this list is ridiculous. what possessed you to even attempt this?

  • satiricarl | September 30, 2010 1:19 AMReply

    cant believe Clerks didn't get a mention! Whats the point of doubling up on Tarantino?

  • Matto | September 29, 2010 11:31 AMReply

    The only ones that belong on the list are sex lies and videotape, memento, resevoir dogs, bowling for columbine and trainspotting.

  • Crash | September 29, 2010 9:09 AMReply

    THIN BLUE LINE was probably the important documentary in the history of documentaries and it didn't even make it on the 80's, "Honorable mention," list. Yet THE TOXIC AVENGER did; I guess IFTA's chairman, Lloyd Kaufman (producer of The Toxic Avenger), just got REALLY lucky.

    Bump, "this shit is for lames."

  • Tbone | September 29, 2010 7:42 AMReply

    No Hoop Dreams... really? Does your esteemed panel seriously think that Where the Day Takes You was more influential?

    Have to agree with the "this shit is for lames" comment.

  • M | September 29, 2010 7:11 AMReply

    I'm not sure about this. What does "indie" really mean, anymore...? Can a Miramax film really be called "indie"...? Maybe, technically, but while most of the movies listed here may be "indie" in financing, they seem very "studio" in spirit...

    Where's Cassavetes' Love Streams...? Where's Jim Jarmusch? Gus Van Sant? Kevin Smith...? Popular and "significant" are not the same thing. No, this seems woefully incomplete, at best...

  • jl | September 29, 2010 7:05 AMReply

    Can we really think that Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring is indie? And Twilight? indie-financed does not an indie make.

  • HustlersRunoff | September 29, 2010 6:58 AMReply

    this shit is for lames. that 2000s list, especially, is insipid.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Sony Counters Bad Press with 'Spider-Man' ...
  • PBS Preview: Six New 'Makers' Documentaries ...
  • Toronto Film Festival Global Summit ...
  • Trailers From Hell Loves 'All That ...
  • Which World Premieres Did Venice La ...
  • Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley Will ...
  • Get Tied Down With First Trailer for ...
  • Not Into 'Hercules'? Here Are 6 Alternatives ...
  • Comic-Con Movie Preview: Warner Bros., ...
  • Not So Fast: David Lynch Says No New ...