One of the best films in a LONG time? Whiplash. Hands down. J.K. Simmons is a tour-de-force in the flick and Miles Teller is also fantastic. But the director of the movie, 30 year old Damien Chazelle, had never directed a feature before this one and couldn't get funding, so he made a short film highlighting the project he wanted to make but couldn't. The short film ended up turning out fantastic and he was able to gather up some major cash to produce the full-length feature, which led to a handful of Academy Awards and a damn good flick. You can watch the whole thing for free below. It's amazing.
If you're fascinated by this movie and its bootstrapped success, here's an interview with Chazelle and Simmons talking about how the whole thing came about. Well worth a watch if you love this kind of stuff.