8 Best Very indie Movies to Watch

Staff & contributors

An absolute delight of a gem starring a young Winona Ryder as well as an amazing cast. Arguably Jim Jarmusch's best film, it tells the story of 5 different places at night from the perspective of cab drivers and their passengers: Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. It's really hard to pick a favorite among the stories, from a messy tomboy having to deal with a busy businesswoman, to a blind woman in Paris making a frustrated driver from Ivory Coast go insane. But look out for Helmut and Yo-Yo, from the New York story. I've rarely seen anything in film as fun as their story.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Armin Mueller-Stahl, Béatrice Dalle, Eija Vilpas, Emile Abossolo M'bo, Gena Rowlands, Giancarlo Esposito, Gianni Schettini, Isaach De Bankolé, Jaakko Talaskivi, Kari Väänänen, Klaus Heydemann, Lisanne Falk, Matti Pellonpää, Paolo Bonacelli, Pascal N'Zonzi, Richard Boes, Roberto Benigni, Romolo Di Biasi, Rosie Perez, Sakari Kuosmanen, Stéphane Boucher, Tomi Salmela, Winona Ryder

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Rating: R

Equal parts touching and comical, this portrait of a working-class family in a suburb just north of London features twin daughters who couldn’t be more different—the brainy and good-natured Natalie, and her sneering, layabout sister Nicola. Written and directed by Mike Leigh (Another Year, Happy-Go-Lucky) expect the slow, dreamy representation of British society from one of the country's best and most renowned directors.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alison Steadman, Claire Skinner, David Neilson, David Thewlis, Harriet Thorpe, Jane Horrocks, Jim Broadbent, Moya Brady, Paul Trussell, Stephen Rea, Timothy Spall

Director: Mike Leigh

Rating: R

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.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alex Haw, Barbara Stepansky, David Julyan, 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

Nine years after his out-of-nowhere, mind-bending premier Primer, writer/producer/director/ star Shane Carruth returns with this exponentially more challenging feature—a neo sci-fi/drama/romance/thriller quite nearly impossible to describe effectively in words. Ostensibly focused upon a woman who has been drugged, brainwashed and robbed and is subsequently drawn to an unknown man who has experienced a similar theft, Carruth draws out the drama in a fractured narrative that challenges the viewer to piece together the dream-like story fragments and implications like a complicated puzzle. Certainly not "audience friendly" in any sort of traditional sense, I love how Carruth paints such an elaborate, intelligent tale in such a remarkably original manner. If this is the future of film, I'm definitely on board.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Amy Seimetz, Andreon Watson, Andrew Sensenig, Ashton Miramontes, Brina Palencia, Carolyn King, Frank Mosley, Jack Watkins, John Walpole, Joy Leigh, Kerry McCormick, Mollie Milligan, Myles McGee, Shane Carruth, Thiago Martins

Director: Shane Carruth

Rating: Not Rated

Ever since the premier at the Toronto Film festival critics and viewers have been raving about this low-budget gem. A lot of people go as far as calling it a life-changing film, and rightfully so.  It tells the story of three people from different parts of the world who face new ethical problems caused by a change in their body: a blind photographer who finally gains sight; an animal rights activist whose newly diagnosed liver condition requires treatment that involves animal testing; and a man who, after having a kidney transplant, learns about the black market for organ trade. The title refers to the paradox that asks if all parts of a ship are replaced, does it stay the same ship? A beautiful intellectual exercise.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aida El-Kashef, Aida Elkashef, Aishwarya, Aishwarya Bhaskar, Aydah El-Kashef, Faraz Khan, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Vinay Shukla, Yogesh Shah

Director: Anand Gandhi

Rating: Not Rated

, 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!

Genre: Drama, Family, Romance

Actor: Courtney Halverson, Dennis Cockrum, Elisabeth Harnois, Eric Parker, Ethan Phillips, Gareth Williams, Ian Nelson, Ignacio Serricchio, Jan Devereaux, Janice Kent, Jennifer Grey, Jesse Heiman, Jesse McCartney, Jessy Schram, Margo Harshman, Megan Hubbell, Micah Henson, Michael Bryan French, Michael McGrady, Michael OKeefe, Rachel Thorp, Rance Howard, Sam Murphy, Sarah Zinsser, Tabitha Brownstone, Tim Halligan, Victoria Chalaya, Zack Rockefeller

Director: Todd Kessler

Rating: PG-13

There is a version of Moon Students that solely focuses on the students of color themselves, victims of racial profiling and injustice, instead of their white teacher and his overbearing white guilt. That would’ve been a slightly better movie to watch, but even then, Moon Students seems broken beyond repair. The film is riddled with technical blunders. The timeframe is confusing, the pacing is off, and the dialogue is unrealistic (and unintentionally funny, because what young person actually says, with full sincerity, “You know what time is it? Party time!”). The actors deserve credit for breathing a bit of life into a limp script, and the cinematography can be nice at times—fuzzy and hazy like an LA dream. But the film’s misguided sense of justice ultimately brings it down.

Genre: Drama

Actor: B.A. Tobin, Cedrick Terrell, Eddie Navarro, Nicholas Heard, Nicholas Thurkettle, Sydney Carvill

Director: Daniel Holland

, 2023

I appreciate what Famous, the movie, tries to do with its small budget. To portray the wealthy and luxurious life Famous, the character, supposedly leads, the movie opts for clean minimalist designs and tasteful close-ups that don’t betray the scruffy studio it’s actually set in. And the music, produced by Friyie, provides a nice ambiance to Famous and Wayne’s fraught relationship. But those are the only good things you could say about this film; everything else is a flat-out mess. The story feels limp, the acting forced, the dialogue loaded with exposition, and the overall execution clunky. Also, tell me why doesn’t Famous rap even once in a movie centered around him? We’re constantly told that Famous is a celebrated rapper, but not once are we made privy to his skills. What was the reason? This choice, like pretty much everything about the movie, is just baffling.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Brendan Jeffers, Farid Yazdani, Jas Dhanda, Lovina Yavari, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Ric Reid

Director: Martha McGrath