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The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated March 3, 2020 681 votes 159 voters 5.1k views 43 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite drama films released by independent film studios.

This list contains information on the best indie drama movies, ranked from best to worst by user votes. The best indie drama films come in many forms. Some indie drama movies are based on family conflicts while other good indie drama films feature mobsters, murderers, and mayhem. A few of the best indie dramas even won Academy Awards.

What films will you find on this top independent drama movies list? Reservoir Dogs has to be at the top. This 1992 movie introduced fans to writer-director, Quentin Tarantino. It is largely considered the best independent film of all-time and features an all-star cast including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, and more. Memento is also an unforgettable independent movie.

David Lynch's first feature, Eraserhead, was shot on a small budget and went on to be preserved in the National Film Registry. Other good independent dramas include Donnie Darko, Lost in Translation, and Boyhood.

Which indie drama do you think is the best? Take a look at this list and give your favorites a thumbs up to make sure that they end up in the top spot.

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list ordered by
1
Eternal Sunshine of the ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey

Released: 2004

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more
2
Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

Released: 2001

Directed by: Richard Kelly

Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena ...more
3
Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

Released: 2000

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on ...more
4
Lost in Translation is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Anna Faris

Released: 2003

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Lost in Translation is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It stars Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, and Fumihiro Hayashi. The ...more
5
Boyhood is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane

Released: 2014

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Boyhood is a 2014 American independent coming-of-age drama film, written and directed by Richard Linklater, and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke. ...more
6
Léon: The Profess... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Jean Reno

Released: 1994

Directed by: Luc Besson

Léon: The Professional is a 1994 English-language French action thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Jean Reno and Gary Oldman, and features the film debut of ...more
7
Whiplash is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Miles Teller

Released: 2014

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film directed by Damien Chazelle. A promising young drummer (Miles Teller) enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored ...more
8
Before Sunrise is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg

Released: 1995

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Before Sunrise is a 1995 American romantic drama film directed by Richard Linklater and written by Linklater and Kim Krizan. The film follows Jesse, a young American man, and Céline, a ...more
9
Manchester by the Sea is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan

Manchester by the Sea is a 2016 American drama film directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan. After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to ...more
10
Short Term 12 is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Brie Larson, Stephanie Beatriz, Melora Walters

Released: 2013

Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton

Short Term 12 is a 2013 American drama film written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film is based on Cretton's short film of the same name, produced in 2009. It stars Brie Larson as ...more
11
Hunt for the Wilderpeopl... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Hunt for the Wilderpeople Sam Neill, Rhys Darby, Cohen Holloway

Released: 2016

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a 2016 New Zealand adventure comedy-drama film written and directed by Taika Waititi, based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump.
12
Boogie Nights is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

13
Kids is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Rosario Dawson, Chloë Sevigny, Harmony Korine

Released: 1995

Directed by: Larry Clark

Kids is a 1995 American drama film written by Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark. It features Chloë Sevigny, Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, and Rosario Dawson, all in their film ...more
14
Submarine is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Ben Stiller, Paddy Constantine, Sally Hawkins

Released: 2010

Directed by: Richard Ayoade

Submarine is a 2010 coming-of-age comedy-drama film adapted from the 2008 novel of the same name by Joe Dunthorne. The film was written and directed by Richard Ayoade, and starred Craig Roberts, ...more
15
Serenity is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane

Released: 2019

Directed by: Steven Knight

Serenity is a 2019 American noir thriller-drama film directed by Steven Knight. The mysterious past of a fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) living in the Caribbean comes back to haunt ...more
16
Blue Is the Warmest Colo... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Alma Jodorowsky

Released: 2013

Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche

Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a 2013 French romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, based on the graphic novel by Julie Maroh. French teenager Adèle ...more
17
Call Me by Your Name is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
isabellawoood added Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 Italian-American romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino, based on Andre Aciman's novel of the same name. In 1980s Italy, a romantic ...more
18
The Spectacular Now is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Shailene Woodley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Released: 2013

Directed by: James Ponsoldt

The Spectacular Now is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by James Ponsoldt, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber and starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. The ...more
19
Sex, Lies, and Videotape... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Laura San Giacomo

Released: 1989

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

This film is a 1989 American independent drama film that brought director Steven Soderbergh to prominence. It tells the story of a man who films women discussing their impact on the ...more
20
Blue Valentine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel

Released: 2010

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

"Blue Valentine is the story of love lost and love found told in two parallel moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and ...more
21
Clemency is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Alfre Woodard, Richard Schiff, Danielle Brooks

Released: 2019

Directed by: Chinonye Chukwu

Clemency is a 2019 American drama film directed by Chinonye Chukwu. A Death Row prison warden, Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) makes a connection to the prisoner she is sanctioned to
22
Saint Frances is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Kelly O'Sullivan, Charin Alvarez, Braden Crothers

Released: 2020

Directed by: Alex Thompson

Saint Frances is a 2020 American comedy drama film directed by Alex Thompson. A deadbeat nanny forms an unlikely friendship with a six-year-old she must protect.
23
What They Had is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster

Released: 2018

Directed by: Elizabeth Chomko

What They Had is a 2018 American drama film directed by Elizabeth Chomko. When her Alzheimer's-suffering mother wanders into a blizzard on Christmas Eve, Bridget Ertz (Hilary Swank) travels back ...more
24
The Peanut Butter Falcon... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottasgen

Released: 2019

Directed by: Tyler Nilson, Mike Schwartz

The Peanut Butter Falcon is a 2019 American adventure film directed and written by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. A young boy with Down syndrome runs away from his care home to fulfill his ...more
25
The Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Drama Movies, Ranked
Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr

Released: 2018

Directed by: Jennifer Kent

The Nightingale is a 2018 Australian period thriller film directed by Jennifer Kent. In 1825 Tasmania, a young convict (Aisling Franciosi) seeks out revenge against the one who killed her