Best Film by Independent Spirit Awards

All winners of the 'Best Film' from 1985 through 2016.

Last updated: March 5th, 2017

Weight: 25


  1. Limited to ~50 years or less (-50)
  2. Yearly award (-25)

Films (32)

1. Moonlight

Directed by Barry Jenkins | R | 111 min | 2016|

A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link

2. Spotlight

Directed by Tom McCarthy | R | 128 min | 2015|

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link

3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu | R | 119 min | 2014|

Illustrated upon the progress of his latest Broadway play, a former popular actor's struggle to cope with his current life as a wasted actor is shown.

4. 12 Years a Slave

Directed by Steve McQueen | R | 134 min | 2013|

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link

5. Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by David O. Russell | R | 122 min | 2012|

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link

6. The Artist

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius | PG-13 | 100 min | 2011|

A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.

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7. Black Swan

Directed by Darren Aronofsky | R | 108 min | 2010|

A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.

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8. Precious

Directed by Lee Daniels | R | 110 min | 2009|

In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

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9. The Wrestler

Directed by Darren Aronofsky | R | 109 min | 2008|

A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle.

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10. Juno

Directed by Jason Reitman | PG-13 | 96 min | 2007|

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

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11. Little Miss Sunshine

Directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris | R | 101 min | 2006|

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link

12. Brokeback Mountain

Directed by Ang Lee | R | 134 min | 2005|

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

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13. Sideways

Directed by Alexander Payne | R | 126 min | 2004|

Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

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14. Lost in Translation

Directed by Sofia Coppola | R | 101 min | 2003|

A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo.

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15. Far from Heaven

Directed by Todd Haynes | PG-13 | 107 min | 2002|

In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.

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16. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Directed by Ang Lee | PG-13 | 120 min | 2000|

Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically skilled, adolescent nobleman's daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life.

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17. Memento

Directed by Christopher Nolan | R | 113 min | 2000|

A man juggles searching for his wife's murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

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18. Election

Directed by Alexander Payne | R | 103 min | 1999|

A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.

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19. Gods and Monsters

Directed by Bill Condon | R | 105 min | 1998|

The last days of Frankenstein (1931) director James Whale are explored.

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20. The Apostle

Directed by Robert Duvall | PG-13 | 134 min | 1997|

After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.

Stream it on: iTunes link

21. Fargo

Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | R | 98 min | 1996|

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

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22. Leaving Las Vegas

Directed by Mike Figgis | R | 111 min | 1995|

Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link

23. Pulp Fiction

Directed by Quentin Tarantino | R | 154 min | 1994|

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

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24. Short Cuts

Directed by Robert Altman | R | 187 min | 1993|

The day-to-day lives of a number of suburban Los Angeles residents.

25. The Player

Directed by Robert Altman | R | 124 min | 1992|

A Hollywood studio executive is being sent death threats by a writer whose script he rejected - but which one?

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26. Rambling Rose

Directed by Martha Coolidge | R | 112 min | 1991|

Rose, is taken in by the Hillyer family to serve as a 1930s housemaid so that she can avoid falling into a life of prostitution. Rose's appearence and personality is such that all men fall ...

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27. The Grifters

Directed by Stephen Frears | R | 110 min | 1990|

A small-time conman has torn loyalties between his estranged mother and new girlfriend--both of whom are high-stakes grifters with their own angles to play.

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28. Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Directed by Steven Soderbergh | R | 100 min | 1989|

A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

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29. Stand and Deliver

Directed by Ramón Menéndez | PG | 103 min | 1988|

The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout prone students to learn calculus.

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30. Platoon

Directed by Oliver Stone | R | 120 min | 1986|

A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

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31. River's Edge

Directed by Tim Hunter | R | 99 min | 1986|

A high school slacker kills his girlfriend and shows off her dead body to his friends. However, the friends' reaction is almost as ambiguous and perplexing as the crime itself.

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32. After Hours

Directed by Martin Scorsese | R | 97 min | 1985|

An ordinary word processor has the worst night of his life after he agrees to visit a girl in Soho whom he met that evening at a coffee shop.

Stream it on: Amazon iTunes link