ByEmily Browne, writer at
Twitter: @emrbrowne
Emily Browne

2016's box office has been dominated by big budget superhero flicks, flashy reboots and animated kids' movies. Quietly released alongside these cinematic monoliths are movies which have inspired us, made us laugh, made us cry and will do very well come award season. While these indies have not so much as tickled the success that Marvel and Disney have achieved this past year, they have reminded us that there is still originality in Hollywood.

Here are the 12 highest grossing movies of 2016 (at the time of writing):

12. The Lady in the Van (December 4th, 2015) (2016 Academy-qualifying run)

 'The Lady in the Van' [Credit: Sony Pictures Classics]
'The Lady in the Van' [Credit: Sony Pictures Classics]

Current Gross: $10,021,175

Released at the end of 2015, The Lady in the Van has grossed just over $10 million through the course of 2016. The British comedy-drama stars Dame Maggie Smith as Mary Shepherd, an elderly woman who has lived in a dilapidated van for the past 15 years.

11. Café Society (July 15, 2017)

Current Gross: $11,103,205

Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart reunite in Café Society, Woody Allen's latest outing. The film follows Bobby (Eisenberg) who moves to Los Angeles to work for his uncle, a talent agent in 1930s Hollywood. There he meets his uncle's attractive assistant Vonnie (Stewart) and the pair begin to fall in love.

10. No Manches Frida (September 2, 2016)

'No Manches Frida' [Credit: Lionsgate]
'No Manches Frida' [Credit: Lionsgate]

Current Gross: $11,528,613

A remake of the German film Fack ju Göhte, No Manches Frida is a Mexican comedy set in a high school inundated with bad behavior. Enter Zequi (Omar Chaparro), a substitute teacher who plans to change all that. For a foreign language indie, $11 million is nothing to be sniffed at.

9. Moonlight (October 21, 2016)

Current Gross: $11,550,539

There's a lot of talk about whether or not will get a nod at this year's Academy Awards. Directed by Barry Jenkins and starring Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali, Moonlight is a story of black identity and sexuality set throughout one man's lifetime. It's based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

8. Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (July 15, 2017)

'Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party' poster [Credit: Quality Flix]
'Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party' poster [Credit: Quality Flix]

Current Gross: $13,099,931

Released in the summer, this political documentary examines the history of the Democratic party and all the steps that lead to Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic nominee in the 2016 Presidential Election. It goes "behind the curtain" to uncover the dark history of the party, and in their words, "what the Democrats are hiding."

7. Love & Friendship (May 13, 2017)

Current Gross: $14,016,568

Based on the comedy of the same name by Jane Austin, Kate Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan Vernon, an 18th century woman who always at the forefront of local gossip. Unmarried, penniless and calculating, Lady Susan strikes up a plan to find a wealthy husband yet still enjoy her carefree existence. The movie also stars Chloë Sevigny and British icon Stephen Fry.

6. Hello, My Name is Doris (March 11, 2017)

'Hello, My Name is Doris' [Credit: Roadside Attractions]
'Hello, My Name is Doris' [Credit: Roadside Attractions]

Current Gross: $14,444,999

Sally Field is charming as the Doris, a woman in her 60s who develops an enormous crush on the handsome young art director John (Max Greenfield). The story weaves between Doris' hopes and desires, and while her relationship with John strengthens, everything else begins to unravel.

See also:

5. Manchester by the Sea (November 18, 2017)

Current Gross: $14,709,319

After his brother dies, Lee (Casey Affleck) reluctantly takes on responsibility of his brother's teenage son, Patrick. A story of loss and family, the film has received universal acclaim for the direction and screenplay of the movie's writer and director Kenneth Lonergan.

4. The Birth of a Nation (October 7, 2017)

'Birth of a Nation' [Credit: Fox Searchlight (acquired at Sundance)]
'Birth of a Nation' [Credit: Fox Searchlight (acquired at Sundance)]

Current Gross: $15,861,556

Birth of a Nation is a brutally honest depiction of the struggles which faced the black community during slave-era USA. Set against the antebellum South, one man witnesses the atrocities occurring to his people, and plans to lead them to freedom. The title comes from the 1915 movie which skyrocketed the KKK into public consciousness.

3. Eye in the Sky (March 11, 2017)

Current Gross: $18,704,595

The British thriller starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and Alan Rickman follows the ethical, moral and political dilemmas of modern drone warfare. Director Gavin Hood has completely redeemed himself from X-Men Origins: Wolverine with this indie that rivals Hacksaw Ridge and other big budget war flicks.

2. The Witch (February 19, 2017)

'The Witch' [Credit: Bleecker Street]
'The Witch' [Credit: Bleecker Street]

Current Gross: $25,138,292

Indie horror had an excellent year, and one movie that stole the show was Robert Eggers's The Witch. Set in 17th-century Puritan New England, this deeply unsettling story is rich with slow-building horror, a thought-provoking narrative and a dark look at humanity.

1. Hell or High Water (August 12, 2017)

Current Gross: $27,007,844

Jeff Bridges' neo-Western put butts on seats this year, with the story of two brothers who carry out a series of bank heists to save their family farm. The movie has received critical acclaim for its complex narrative, four dimensional characters and cinematography. Expect Hell of High Water to sweep up come award season.

So far 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for cinema — alongside Justice League and Spider-Man, we have , a sequel to the cult classic Trainspotting and Looking For Alaska, based on the novel by . Having said this, keep an eye out for those indie's that go under the radar, they may become your new favorite.


Which of the highest grossing indie's of 2016 was your favorite?

[Source: Indie Wire]


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