32 Great Movies That Prove A Big Budget Isn't Everything

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We all love special effects. They make everything seem cooler than they actually are. But movies without them feel so much more realistic.

Movies like Shawshank Redemption, Schindler's List and so many more aren't included in the list. We tried to give a way to other movies that aren't deemed so popular.

The movies are listed according to their IMDb ratings. Enjoy.

The storylines were taken from IMDb.

31. The Family Stone (2005)

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IMDb: 6.3
The Stone family unites in common cause when their favorite son brings his uptight girlfriend home for the Christmas holiday, with plans of proposing. Overwhelmed by the hostile reception, she begs her sister to join her for emotional support, triggering further complications.

30. The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)

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IMDb: 6.7
A disillusioned war veteran, Captain Rannulph Junah, reluctantly agrees to play a game of golf. He finds the game futile until his caddy, Bagger Vance, teaches him the secret of the authentic golf stroke which turns out also to be the secret to mastering any challenge and finding meaning in life.

29. Cool Runnings (1993)

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IMDb: 6.9
Irving Blitzer disgraced himself when putting extra weights into his team's bob in the Olympics, resulting in his gold medal being taken away from him. Years later, Derice Bannock, son of a former friend of Irv, fails to qualify for the 100-yard sprint for the Olympics due to a stupid accident. But when he hears of Irving Blitzer living also on Jamaica, Derice decides to go to the Games anyway, if not as a sprinter, then as a bobsledder. After some starting problems, the first Jamaican bobsledding team is formed and heads for Calgary. In the freezing weather Derice, Sanka, Junior and Yul are only laughed at, since nobody can take a Jamaican bobsledding team led by a disgraced trainer seriously. But team spirit and a healthy self-confidence may lead to a few surprises in the upcoming Winter Games.

28. Amistad (1997)

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IMDb: 7.2
Amistad is the name of a slave ship traveling from Cuba to the U.S. in 1839. It is carrying a cargo of Africans who have been sold into slavery in Cuba, taken on board, and chained in the cargo hold of the ship. As the ship is crossing from Cuba to the U.S., Cinque, who was a tribal leader in Africa, leads a mutiny and takes over the ship. They continue to sail, hoping to find help when they land. Instead, when they reach the United States, they are imprisoned as runaway slaves. They don't speak a word of English, and it seems like they are doomed to die for killing their captors when an abolitionist lawyer decides to take their case, arguing that they were free citizens of another country and not slaves at all. The case finally gets to the Supreme Court, where John Quincy Adams makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release.

27. Everybody's Fine (2009)

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IMDb: 7.2
Frank Goode lives by himself in Elmira, NY, a recent widower with heart trouble, retired from a factory job, proud of having pushed his adult children toward success. In the summer, all four kids bail on a reunion, so, against doctor's orders, Frank decides to surprise each with a visit. He sets out to see his artist son in New York City, his daughter the ad exec in Chicago, his son the conductor on tour and presently in Denver, and his daughter who's a performer in Vegas. None are as he imagines or hopes. Will they let him see themselves as they are, and can this dad adapt?

26. The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

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IMDb: 7.3
Set in South Carolina in 1964, this is the tale of Lily Owens, a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father T-Ray, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping.

25. The Terminal (2004)

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IMDb: 7.3
Victor Novarski reaches JFK airport from a politically unstable country. Due to collapse of his government, his papers are no longer valid in the airport, and hence he is forced to stay in the airport till the war cools down. He makes the airport his home and develops a friendship with the people who work there until he finally has to leave.

24. The Cider House Rules (1999)

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IMDb: 7.4
Homer is an orphan in remote St. Cloud, Maine. Never adopted, he becomes the favorite of orphanage director Dr. Larch, who imparts his full medical knowledge on Homer, who becomes a skilled, albeit unlicensed, physician. But Homer yearns for a self-chosen life outside the orphanage. When Wally and pregnant Candy visit the orphanage Dr. Larch provides medically safe, albeit illegal, abortions Homer leaves with them to work on Wally's family apple farm. Wally goes off to war, leaving Homer and Candy alone together. What will Homer learn about life and love in the cider house? What of the destiny that Dr. Larch has planned for him?

23. Venuto al mondo (2012)

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IMDb: 7.4
A mother brings her teenage son to Sarajevo, where his father died in the Bosnian conflict years ago.

22. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

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IMDb: 7.5
Western Australia, 1931. Government policy includes taking half-caste children from their Aboriginal mothers and sending them a thousand miles away to what amounts to indentured servitude, "to save them from themselves." Molly, Daisy, and Grace (two sisters and a cousin who are 14, 10, and 8) arrive at their Gulag and promptly escape, under Molly's lead. For days they walk north, following a fence that keeps rabbits from settlements, eluding a native tracker and the regional constabulary. Their pursuers take orders from the government's "chief protector of Aborigines," A.O. Neville, blinded by Anglo-Christian certainty, evolutionary world view and conventional wisdom. Can the girls survive?

21. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

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IMDb: 7.5
Near the turn of the twentieth century, young Harry Vardon becomes a champion golfer but learns that his amazing skill is no match for the class boundaries that exclude him from "gentlemanly" English society. A dozen years later, a young American, Francis Ouimet, fights against the same prejudice, as well as his own father's disdain, for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open against his idol -- Harry Vardon. The struggles of both men for acceptance provides the background for an amazing contest of skills.

20. The Great Debaters (2007)

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IMDb: 7.6
Marshall, Texas, described by James Farmer, Jr. as "the last city to surrender after the Civil War," is home to Wiley College, where, in 1935-36, inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and his clandestine work as a union organizer, Professor Melvin Tolson coaches the debate team to a nearly-undefeated season that sees the first debate between U.S. students from white and Negro colleges and ends with an invitation to face Harvard University's national champions. The team of four, which includes a female student and a very young James Farmer, is tested in a crucible heated by Jim Crow, sexism, a lynch mob, an arrest and near riot, a love affair, jealousy, and a national radio audience.

19. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

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IMDb: 7.6
Because his wife left him and took his son with her, screenwriter Ben Sanderson has started drinking, a lot. He's getting more and more isolated and he troubles women in bars because he wants to have sex with them. When he gets fired, he decides to leave everything behind and move to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. In Las Vegas he meets Sera, a prostitute with some problems as well who he moves in with.

18. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

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IMDb: 7.6
Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise.

17. Moneyball (2011)

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IMDb: 7.6
Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team.

16. On Golden Pond (1981)

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IMDb: 7.7
The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea -- whom they haven't seen for years -- feels she must be there for Norman's birthday. She and her fiance are on their way to Europe the next day but will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the fiance's son. When she returns Chelsea is married and her stepson has the relationship with her father that she always wanted. Will father and daughter be able to communicate at last?

15. In America (2002)

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IMDb: 7.7
An aspiring Irish actor and his family illegally immigrate in the United States with the dreams of the father breaking into the New York City theatrical scene. Once they arrive in the big city, they move into a flop house and try to make it truly their home. While they struggle to fit in their new country, the family finds new friends like the reclusive neighbor, Mateo, who provides help in the most unexpected ways in America.

14. The Last King of Scotland (2006)

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IMDb: 7.7
In the early 1970s, Nicholas Garrigan, a young semi-idealistic Scottish doctor, comes to Uganda to assist in a rural hospital. Once there, he soon meets up with the new President, Idi Amin, who promises a golden age for the African nation. Garrigan hits it off immediately with the rabid Scotland fan, who soon offers him a senior position in the national health department and becomes one of Amin's closest advisers. However as the years pass, Garrigan cannot help but notice Amin's increasingly erratic behavior that grows beyond a legitimate fear of assassination into a murderous insanity that is driving Uganda into bloody ruin. Realizing his dire situation with the lunatic leader unwilling to let him go home, Garrigan must make some crucial decisions that could mean his death if the despot finds out.

13. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

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IMDb: 7.8
In 1912, the notorious and violent prisoner Robert Franklin Stroud is transferred to the Leavenworth Prison convicted for murdering a man. When a guard cancels the visit of his mother, Elizabeth Stroud, due to a violation of the internal rules, he stabs and kills the guard and goes to trial three times. He is sentenced to be executed by the gallows, but his mother appeals to President Woodrow Wilson who commutes his sentence to life imprisonment. However, the warden, Harvey Shoemaker, decides to keep Stroud in solitary for the rest of his life. One day, Stroud finds a sparrow that has fallen from the nest in the yard and he raises the bird until it is strong enough to fly. Stroud finds a motivation for his life raising and caring for birds and becomes an expert in birds. He marries Stella Johnson and together they run a business, providing medicine developed by Stroud. But a few years after, Stroud is transferred to Alcatraz and has to leave his birds behind.

12. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

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IMDb: 7.8
Ted Kramer is a career man for whom his work comes before his family. His wife Joanna cannot take this anymore, so she decides to leave him. Ted is now faced with the tasks of housekeeping and taking care of himself and their young son Billy. When he has learned to adjust his life to these new responsibilities, Joanna resurfaces and wants Billy back. Ted, however, refuses to give him up, so they go to court to fight for the custody of their son.

11. October Sky (1999)

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IMDb: 7.8
In a 1950's mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local strip club like his father. However in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets. With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error. Unfortunately, most of the town and especially Homer's father thinks that they are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair with college scholarships being the prize. Now the gang must learn to perfect their craft and overcome the many problems facing them as they shoot for the stars.

10. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

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IMDb: 7.8
Rancher Dan Evans heads into Bisbee to clear up issues concerning the sale of his land when he witnesses the closing events of a stagecoach robbery led by famed outlaw Ben Wade. Shortly thereafter, Wade is captured by the law in Bisbee and Evans finds himself one of the escorts who will take Wade to the 3:10 to Yuma train in Contention for the reward of $200. Evans's effort to take Wade to the station is in part an effort to save his land but also part of an inner battle to determine whether he can be more than just a naive rancher in the eyes of his impetuous and gunslinging son William Evans. The transport to Contention is hazardous and filled with ambushes by Indians, pursuits by Wade's vengeful gang and Wade's own conniving and surreptitious demeanor that makes the ride all the more intense.

9. Pride & Prejudice (2005)

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IMDb: 7.8
The protagonist Elizabeth Bennett is a witty, sarcastic, somewhat stubborn young lady who really has an opinion about quite a lot including why she would not marry simply because of it is expected of her. Mr. Guy Darcy is a shy, rich, man who defiantly believes there is such a thing as superior birth.

8. Dear Frankie (2004)

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IMDb: 7.9
Nine-year-old Frankie and his single mum Lizzie have been on the move ever since Frankie can remember, most recently arriving in a seaside Scottish town. Wanting to protect her deaf son from the truth that they've run away from his father, Lizzie has invented a story that he is away at sea on the HMS Accra. Every few weeks, Lizzie writes Frankie a make-believe letter from his father, telling of his adventures in exotic lands. As Frankie tracks the ship's progress around the globe, he discovers that it is due to dock in his hometown. With the real HMS Accra arriving in only a fortnight, Lizzie must choose between telling Frankie the truth or finding the perfect stranger to play Frankie's father for just one day...

7. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

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IMDb: 7.9
Based on a true story about a man named Christopher Gardner. Gardner has invested heavily in a device known as a "Bone Density scanner". He feels like he has made these devices. However, they do not sell as they are marginally better than the current technology at a much higher price. As Gardner tries to figure out how to sell them, his wife leaves him, he loses his house, his bank account, and credit cards. Forced to live out in the streets with his son, Gardner is now desperate to find a steady job; he takes on a job as a stockbroker, but before he can receive pay, he needs to go through 6 months of training, and to sell his devices.

6. Mystic River (2003)

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IMDb: 8.0
In the summer of 1975 in a neighborhood in Boston, 3 kids, Dave Boyle and two of his friends, Jimmy and Sean, are playing on the sidewalk when Dave gets abducted by two men and endures several days of sexual abuse. Eventually, Dave escapes traumatized throughout adulthood. Jimmy is an ex-con and a father of three, whose daughter Katie, is found dead and Dave becomes the number one suspect. Sean is a homicide detective, investigating Katie's murder, ends up finding himself faced with past and present demons as more is uncovered about Katie's murder. Learning Katie had a boyfriend, ballistics later turn up a gun belonging to the father, which then puts her boyfriend as the suspect. Will Sean find out who killed Katie? Will Jimmy make it through the investigation? And will Dave ever find out what really happened when he was abducted?

5. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

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IMDb: 8.0
New Rochelle, the 1960s. High schooler Frank Abagnale Jr. idolizes his father, who's in trouble with the IRS. When his parents separate, Frank runs away to Manhattan with $25 in his checking account, vowing to regain dad's losses and get his parents back together. Just a few years later, the FBI tracks him down in France; he's extradited, tried, and jailed for passing more than $4,000,000 in bad checks. Along the way, he's posed as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, and an attorney. And, from nearly the beginning of this life of crime, he's been pursued by a dour FBI agent, Carl Hanratty. What starts as cat and mouse becomes something akin to father and son..

4. Heat (1995)

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IMDb: 8.3
Hunters and their prey--Neil and his professional criminal crew hunt to score big money targets (banks, vaults, armored cars) and are, in turn, hunted by Lt. Vincent Hanna and his team of cops in the Robbery/Homicide police division. A botched job puts Hanna onto their trail while they regroup and try to put together one last big 'retirement' score. Neil and Vincent are similar in many ways, including their troubled personal lives. At a crucial moment in his life, Neil disobeys the dictum taught to him long ago by his criminal mentor--'Never have anything in your life that you can't walk out on in thirty seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner'--as he falls in love. Thus the stage is set for the suspenseful ending....

3. Temple Grandin (2010)

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IMDb: 8.4
Biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who overcame the limitations imposed on her by her condition to become a Ph.D. and expert in the field of animal husbandry. She developed an interest in cattle early in life while spending time at her Aunt and Uncle's ranch. She did not speak until age four and had difficulty right through high school, mostly in dealing with people. Her mother was very supportive as were some of her teachers. She is noted for creating her "hug box", widely recognized today as a way of relieving stress in autistic children, and her humane design for the treatment of cattle in processing plants, which have been the subject of several books and won an award from PETA. Today, she is a professor at Colorado State University and well-known speaker on autism and animal handling.

2. Bacheha-Ye aseman (1997)

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IMDb: 8.5
Zahra's shoes are gone; her older brother Ali lost them. They are poor, there are no shoes for Zahra until they come up with an idea: they will share one pair of shoes, Ali's. School awaits. Will the plan succeed?

1. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988)

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IMDb: 8.5
A famous film director remembers his childhood at the Cinema Paradiso where Alfredo, the projectionist, first brought about his love of films. He returns home to his Sicilian village for the first time after almost 30 years and is reminded of his first love, Elena, who disappeared from his life before he left for Rome.

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