Stranger Than Paradise(1984)
Jim Jarmusch is another in the small canon of American directors who have spent their entire career outside of the mainstream - hell, even when he's got Johnny Depp in his movie the box office seems relatively unperturbed. But it's this early work - just his second feature - that stands among the best. Possibly the biggest reason for Stranger Than Paradise's inclusion here is, despite all outward appearances, Jarmusch's craftily disguising that he knows exactly what he's on about. It wasn't for another film or two that his themes of the universality of humankind, regardless of race, creed or colour, became apparent. Consider also his legacy on the likes of Wayne Wang and Greg Araki.
Christopher Nolan's modestly budgeted sleeper hit managed to claw it's way over the indie fence and into mainstream recognition on pure ingenuity. Before Memento, the 'character with amnesia' subgenre was, generally, a rather tired one (and has become so again since), but using the simplest of devices - telling the story's episodic structure in reverse order - the filmmakers (Nolan's brother Jonathan wrote the basis of the screenplay) forged a tale that was arse-clenchingly compelling, and ironically, unforgettable. And let's not forget it was the first major breakthrough in screenwriting structure since Pulp Fiction and its many clones, which in itself deserves an award.