The idea that bigger is better doesn't always apply to movies. Sure, we love the sci-fi action spectacle that can be bought for hundreds of millions of dollars. But we also love what can be achieved for hundreds of thousands of dollars (or less). A lot of the time, it's micro-budget indies that launch a filmmaker's career. Once in awhile, these remain the director's best work long after they've begun playing with Hollywood-size sums.

Most classic movie made for nothing may be taken for granted nowadays when digital cameras, computer software, and crowdfunding websites allow anyone to produce a feature-length film very cheaply without it looking that way. Not all of them are good, of course, which relates to why size doesn't matter with film budgets. Great storytelling is great storytelling at $200 or $200,000 or $200,000,000.

Here we present the best of the cheapest -- excellent films that (initially) cost anywhere below $1 million and are every bit as entertaining or satisfying as any high-priced "Avatar" or "Avengers" tentpole.

categories Movies