the Wrestler (2009)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Bearing in mind his capacity to divide opinion - much like indie filmmaking as a whole - it's perhaps fitting that Darren Aronofsky kicks off this identity parade of the great and good of US indieland. He took a huge leap of faith casting Mickey Rourke as Randy 'The Ram' Robinson – originally, Nic Cage was set for the role, with big studio backing coming with it, but Aronofsky knew he needed Rourke. Notoriously unreliable, hadn’t-had-a-proper-job-in-years Rourke. But friends rallied round, with Axl Rose donating the use of Guns N' Roses' ‘Sweet Child O' Mine’ free of charge, Bruce Springsteen writing the title song, and the whole film getting done in just 40 days. The result? Rourke and Tomei getting BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nods, and The Wrestler appearing on dozens of critics’ Top Ten Best Lists 2008.