The Essential Must See Top 50 Arthouse Filmsby 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
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
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
After withdrawing to the Chateau Marmont, a passionless Hollywood actor reexamines his life when his eleven-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit.
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
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.
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
Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.
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
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.
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
A haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.
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
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.
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
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.
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
The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
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
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.
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
An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.
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
A mysterious young woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. However, events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.
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
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.
Votes: 168,334 | Gross: $13.30M
18. Another Earth (2011)
PG-13 | 92 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
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.
Votes: 91,121 | Gross: $1.32M
19. My Own Private Idaho (1991)
R | 104 min | Drama
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.
Votes: 51,183 | Gross: $6.40M
21. The New World (2005)
PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama, History
The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.
Votes: 83,087 | Gross: $12.71M
23. Samson and Delilah (2009)
Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Romance
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.
24. Restless (I) (2011)
PG-13 | 91 min | Drama, Romance
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.
Votes: 17,384 | Gross: $0.16M
25. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy
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.
Votes: 235,317 | Gross: $2.22M
26. Irreversible (2002)
Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Horror
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.
Votes: 120,941 | Gross: $0.75M
27. I Melt with You (2011)
R | 129 min | Drama
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.
Votes: 5,808 | Gross: $0.00M
28. Dogville (2003)
R | 178 min | Crime, Drama
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.
Votes: 138,459 | Gross: $1.53M
29. Brick (2005)
R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Votes: 101,260 | Gross: $2.06M
31. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
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.
Votes: 606,228 | Gross: $56.95M
32. To the Wonder (2012)
R | 112 min | Drama, Romance
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.
Votes: 27,234 | Gross: $0.59M
34. Wake in Fright (1971)
R | 109 min | Drama, Thriller
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.
Votes: 10,663 | Gross: $0.05M
36. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
PG | 101 min | Adventure, Drama, Family
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.
Votes: 101,010 | Gross: $77.23M
38. Tideland (2005)
R | 120 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
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.
Votes: 31,975 | Gross: $0.07M
39. Blade Runner: The Director's Cut (1982)
R | 117 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Votes: 696,455 | Gross: $32.87M
40. Five Easy Pieces (1970)
R | 98 min | Drama
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.
Votes: 33,524 | Gross: $5.51M
43. Mulholland Drive (2001)
R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
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.
Votes: 323,761 | Gross: $7.22M
45. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama