The Essential Must See Top 50 Arthouse Films - IMDb

The Essential Must See Top 50 Arthouse Films

by dahlmandaniel | created - 13 Jul 2014 | updated - 13 Jul 2014 | Public

In order of the most crazy to more story focused. This is a must see list of the very best in Art House and philosophical mending bending cinema.

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1. Eraserhead (1977)

Not Rated | 89 min | Fantasy, Horror

87 Metascore

Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates

Votes: 103,679 | Gross: $7.00M

If you want to expand your mind beyond it's limits and truly experience something unlike anything before, this is the ultimate. The metaphors are there but cloaked in ambiguity. The director just recently went on record and gave away what it all means.

2. Somewhere (2010)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama

67 Metascore

After withdrawing to the Chateau Marmont, a passionless Hollywood actor reexamines his life when his eleven-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Erin Wasson

Votes: 43,039 | Gross: $1.77M

A beautiful father daughter love story about loneliness and identity. Hailed as the best representation of Hollywood actors. Beware this is not for those who fall asleep during films. This has a truly brilliant finale. Essential viewing for those wanting to explore the arthouse genre.

3. Upstream Color (2013)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

81 Metascore

A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

Director: Shane Carruth | Stars: Amy Seimetz, Frank Mosley, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig

Votes: 31,674 | Gross: $0.44M

Primer director Shane Carruth gives us a grand piece of art filled with emotion and mood. A beautiful love story for those who believe in fate and have dated the "emotionally stressed." The story is original and ahead of it's time. It may take focus to understand what is going on, but that is the beauty of it. This is an experience in love, togetherness and connections. All directed, shot, starring, edited and music composed by Shane Carruth. This is the ultimate in indies and contemporary film making.

4. Elephant (2003)

R | 81 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

70 Metascore

Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Elias McConnell, Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson

Votes: 86,166 | Gross: $1.23M

Based on a school shooting, the realism of this will horrify you.

5. The Fountain (2006)

PG-13 | 97 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

51 Metascore

As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ellen Burstyn

Votes: 228,835 | Gross: $10.14M

It may be muddled but the issues raised will make you think. Visually stunning and heart wrenching this multi-real-fantasy story will make you rethink immortal love.

6. Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

57 Metascore

A haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.

Director: Julia Leigh | Stars: Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Bridgette Barrett

Votes: 30,997 | Gross: $0.04M

An ironic take on the story where her body is the metaphor and closeness is the main theme. What is dead inside compared to actually being dead? Long and sexy this is Australian cinema at its very peak in arthouse. This closed a genre.

7. Antichrist (2009)

Not Rated | 108 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

49 Metascore

A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage, but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm

Votes: 117,043 | Gross: $0.40M

Not for the faint of heart but if you like tales of shrinks taking their wives into the middle of the woods only to find that she is a witch during the Bible belt. Gruesome, beautiful and filled with symbolism. This will shock you and is one for the couples who like to go on the wild side of cinema.

8. Enter the Void (2009)

Not Rated | 161 min | Drama, Fantasy

69 Metascore

An American drug dealer living in Tokyo is betrayed by his best friend and killed in a drug deal. His soul, observing the repercussions of his death, seeks resurrection.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy, Olly Alexander

Votes: 71,576 | Gross: $0.34M

3 hours long and almost all done either overhead (in one single shot) or POV (including the blinking). This will blow your mind and give you a story of a man who dies and his soul watches over his sister. Voyeuristic and with the location, your eyes will begin to bleed. A lot of reincarnation motifs and sexuality. For those who are on LSD or want to draw the line in their mind.

9. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

R | 102 min | Drama

68 Metascore

The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans

Votes: 770,354 | Gross: $3.64M

If you want to know what it's like to take actual drugs, then this it. Like all classic drug tales, half of it is the fun, the rest is the repercussions. This is one of the greats.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

R | 108 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

89 Metascore

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.

Director: Michel Gondry | Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Robert Byrne

Votes: 915,590 | Gross: $34.40M

If you have ever been through a breakup, then this is perfect for you. See it. No need to say anymore.

11. Badlands (1973)

PG | 94 min | Action, Crime, Drama

93 Metascore

An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri

Votes: 66,367

It may seem old but this is about roughneck and his girlfriend venturing across town killing people and doing anything they want.

12. Donnie Darko (2001)

R | 113 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

88 Metascore

After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.

Director: Richard Kelly | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

Votes: 742,458 | Gross: $1.48M

Time travel and growing up. This is so good, it hurts.

13. Primer (2004)

PG-13 | 77 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

68 Metascore

Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention.

Director: Shane Carruth | Stars: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya

Votes: 98,917 | Gross: $0.42M

Cheap and genius. This is a time travel film without time travel. Done in completely engineering speak, the dialogue may be hard to follow but this is a true blue indie. The ending's twist will make you want to watch it again and again.

14. Melancholia (2011)

R | 135 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

80 Metascore

Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård

Votes: 168,890 | Gross: $3.03M

Dark and mood driven another planet is on a collision course with earth. Very similar to Anti-Christ with motifs but a beautiful end of the world story that will make you question your own mortality.

15. Under the Skin (I) (2013)

R | 108 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

80 Metascore

A mysterious young woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. However, events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

Director: Jonathan Glazer | Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell

Votes: 130,429 | Gross: $2.61M

An alien takes over from another aliens and ventures around Scotland picking up men and taking their life forces. The alien eventually ends up taking interest in being a human and the film is done from a foreign/voyeur perspective that will make you think "how would I feel walking around on another planet?"

16. The Tree of Life (2011)

PG-13 | 139 min | Drama, Fantasy

85 Metascore

The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken

Votes: 168,334 | Gross: $13.30M

17. Gerry (2002)

R | 103 min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery

54 Metascore

A friendship between two young men is tested when they go for a hike in a desert and forget to bring any water or food with them.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon

Votes: 17,919 | Gross: $0.24M

18. Another Earth (2011)

PG-13 | 92 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

66 Metascore

On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.

Director: Mike Cahill | Stars: Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach, DJ Flava

Votes: 91,121 | Gross: $1.32M

19. My Own Private Idaho (1991)

R | 104 min | Drama

77 Metascore

Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert

Votes: 51,183 | Gross: $6.40M

20. Being John Malkovich (1999)

R | 113 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

90 Metascore

A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich

Votes: 313,511 | Gross: $22.86M

21. The New World (2005)

PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama, History

69 Metascore

The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale

Votes: 83,087 | Gross: $12.71M

22. Father of My Children (2009)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama

76 Metascore

A film producer struggles with suicidal despair.

Director: Mia Hansen-Løve | Stars: Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Alice de Lencquesaing, Alice Gautier

Votes: 2,448 | Gross: $0.14M

23. Samson and Delilah (2009)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Romance

75 Metascore

A glue-sniffing boy and his girlfriend escape the government-controlled no-hope Aboriginal community they live in and go to the city, Alice Springs, looking for a better life.

Director: Warwick Thornton | Stars: Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson, Scott Thornton

Votes: 3,237

24. Restless (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 91 min | Drama, Romance

47 Metascore

The story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Henry Hopper, Ryô Kase, Schuyler Fisk

Votes: 17,384 | Gross: $0.16M

25. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

56 Metascore

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born with a superior olfactory sense, creates the world's finest perfume. His work, however, takes a dark turn as he searches for the ultimate scent.

Director: Tom Tykwer | Stars: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Francesc Albiol

Votes: 235,317 | Gross: $2.22M

26. Irreversible (2002)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

51 Metascore

Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia

Votes: 120,941 | Gross: $0.75M

27. I Melt with You (2011)

R | 129 min | Drama

26 Metascore

When four 40-something college friends meet up for their annual reunion, things start to spiral out of control, and a pact they made as young men is revisited.

Director: Mark Pellington | Stars: Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Christian McKay

Votes: 5,808 | Gross: $0.00M

28. Dogville (2003)

R | 178 min | Crime, Drama

60 Metascore

A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado community in exchange for labor, but when a search visits the town she finds out that their support has a price.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Lauren Bacall, Harriet Andersson

Votes: 138,459 | Gross: $1.53M

29. Brick (2005)

R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Drama

72 Metascore

A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Emilie de Ravin, Meagan Good

Votes: 101,260 | Gross: $2.06M

30. Last Days (2005)

R | 97 min | Drama, Music

67 Metascore

A Seattle musician's life and career are reminiscent to those of Kurt Cobain.

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Patrick Green

Votes: 21,769 | Gross: $0.45M

31. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

84 Metascore

After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 606,228 | Gross: $56.95M

32. To the Wonder (2012)

R | 112 min | Drama, Romance

58 Metascore

After falling in love in Paris, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems arise. Their church's Spanish-born pastor struggles with his faith, while Neil encounters a woman from his childhood.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams

Votes: 27,234 | Gross: $0.59M

33. Birth (2004)

R | 100 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

50 Metascore

A young boy attempts to convince a woman that he is her dead husband reborn.

Director: Jonathan Glazer | Stars: Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright, Lauren Bacall, Danny Huston

Votes: 34,814 | Gross: $5.01M

34. Wake in Fright (1971)

R | 109 min | Drama, Thriller

85 Metascore

After a bad gambling bet, a schoolteacher is marooned in a town full of crazy, drunk, violent men who threaten to make him just as crazy, drunk, and violent.

Director: Ted Kotcheff | Stars: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay

Votes: 10,663 | Gross: $0.05M

35. Special (2006)

R | 81 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

57 Metascore

A lonely comic book fan, Les Franken, has a reaction to medication and becomes convinced he's a superhero.

Directors: Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore | Stars: Michael Rapaport, Paul Blackthorne, Josh Peck, Robert Baker

Votes: 5,376 | Gross: $0.01M

36. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

PG | 101 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

71 Metascore

Yearning for escape and adventure, a young boy runs away from home and sails to an island filled with creatures that take him in as their king.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: Max Records, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Pepita Emmerichs

Votes: 101,010 | Gross: $77.23M

37. The Thin Red Line (1998)

R | 170 min | Drama, War

78 Metascore

Adaptation of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Kirk Acevedo

Votes: 173,366 | Gross: $36.40M

38. Tideland (2005)

R | 120 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

26 Metascore

Because of the actions of her irresponsible parents, a young girl is left alone on a decrepit country estate and survives inside her fantastic imagination.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly, Jodelle Ferland, Janet McTeer

Votes: 31,975 | Gross: $0.07M

39. Blade Runner: The Director's Cut (1982)

R | 117 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

84 Metascore

A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Votes: 696,455 | Gross: $32.87M

40. Five Easy Pieces (1970)

R | 98 min | Drama

85 Metascore

A dropout from upper-class America picks up work along the way on oil rigs when his life isn't spent in a squalid succession of bars, motels, and other points of interest.

Director: Bob Rafelson | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Billy Green Bush, Fannie Flagg

Votes: 33,524 | Gross: $5.51M

41. The Machinist (2004)

R | 101 min | Drama, Thriller

61 Metascore

An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.

Director: Brad Anderson | Stars: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian

Votes: 359,823 | Gross: $1.08M

42. Lost in Translation (2003)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Drama

89 Metascore

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

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris

Votes: 417,130 | Gross: $44.59M

43. Mulholland Drive (2001)

R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

85 Metascore

After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Jeanne Bates

Votes: 323,761 | Gross: $7.22M

44. Adaptation. (2002)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

83 Metascore

A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton

Votes: 179,193 | Gross: $22.25M