This July will mark a special occasion for independent cinema. It was 20 years ago that Tom Rothman joined 20th Century Fox to launch Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of the studio meant to capitalize on a growing movement in the industry like Miramax Films and Sony Pictures Classics before it. It was the rise of the "dependents," studio-sanctioned arms run autonomously that would be havens of sorts for filmmakers with bold voices, led by teams geared toward matching those voices with the audiences that craved them.

The first film released from the Searchlight stable would be picked up, fittingly enough, at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival: Edward Burns' "The Brothers McMullen." Two decades later the company has amassed a sterling portfolio that it plans to celebrate later this year with special commemorative DVD boxed sets. It's also having a pretty great run of things as of late, with "12 Years a Slave" netting the company its second Best Picture Oscar to date earlier this month and Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel" breaking specialty records at the box office.

So all of this got us thinking: what is the best of the best? So, 20 years, 20 movies — we've put our heads together at In Contention to come up with our take on the cream of Searchlight's crop. Click through the gallery story below to see our picks, and feel free to share your thoughts and/or offer up your own in the comments section below! Or, vote for your favorite Searchlight release in the poll below the gallery.

HitFix Poll

Which is your favorite Fox Searchlight release?

Kristopher Tapley has covered the film awards landscape for over a decade. He founded In Contention in 2005. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London and Variety. He begs you not to take any of this too seriously.