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The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners

Updated February 3, 2021 827 votes 67 voters 4.3k views56 items

List RulesBest documentaries and dramas from the Sundance Film Festival

This is a list of the best films to be chosen by critics and fans as the winner of the Sundance Audience Award at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Sundance is one of the biggest American film festivals, and films presented with the Audience Award often go on to be successful in the indie market.

This list comprises all of the best Sundance Audience Award winners beginning in 1984. The films are from the dramatic competition, documentary competition, world cinema dramatic competition, world cinema documentary competition and Sundance's best of NEXT Audience Award. The films are dramas and documentaries that have captured the attention of the audience with their storytelling, directing and emotion.

The list will answer the question, "What films won the Audience Award at Sundance?" and includes films that have gone on to win an Oscar, such as American Dream, and coming of age dramas, such as The Wackness.
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  • 1
    18
    4

    The Station Agent

    Michelle Williams, Peter Dinklage
    The Station Agent is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Thomas...  more
  • 2
    16
    5

    Sex, Lies, and Videotape

    Andie MacDowell, James Spader
    This film is a 1989 American independent drama film that brought director Steven Soderbergh to...  more
  • 3
    13
    4

    Maria Full of Grace

    Catalina Sandino Moreno, Patricia Rae
    Maria Full of Grace is a 2004 joint film production between Colombia and the U.S. written and...  more
  • 4
    35
    6

    The Cove

    Richard O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos
    The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that analyzes and questions dolphin hunting practices in...  more
  • 5
    2
    1

    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

    Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler
    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a 2015 American comedy-drama film directed by Alfonso...  more
  • 6
    37
    8

    Hoop Dreams

    William Gates, Arthur Agee
    Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James and written by James...  more
  • 7
    35
    8

    Hustle & Flow

    Taraji P. Henson, Ludacris
    Hustle & Flow is a 2005 American independent drama film written and directed by Craig Brewer...  more
  • 8
    11
    7
    Precious is a 2009 American drama film, directed and co-produced by Lee Daniels. Precious is...  more
  • 9
    0
    0

    CODA

    Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin
    CODA is a 2021 American drama film directed by Sian Heder, and a remake of the 2014 French...  more
  • 10
    0
    0

    Minari

    Steven Yeun, Yeri Han
    Minari is a 2020 American drama film directed by Lee Isaac Chung. A Korean-American family...  more
  • 11
    1
    1

    Brittany Runs a Marathon

    Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins
    Brittany Runs a Marathon is a 2019 American comedy film directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo. A...  more
  • 12
    5
    2

    Longtime Companion

    Mary-Louise Parker, Tony Shalhoub
    Longtime Companion is a 1990 film directed by Norman René and starring Bruce Davison, Campbell...  more
  • 13
    18
    4

    The Sessions

    Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
    Starring Academy Award® Nominee John Hawkes, Academy Award® Nominee William H. Macy and...  more
  • 14
    6
    6

    Fruitvale Station

    Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz
    Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based...  more
  • 15
    25
    8

    El Mariachi

    Carlos Gallardo, Juan García
    El Mariachi is a 1992 American action film and the first installment in the saga that came to...  more
  • 16
    18
    7

    Real Women Have Curves

    America Ferrera, George Lopez
    Real Women Have Curves is a 2002 American movie starring America Ferrera. Directed by Patricia...  more
  • 17
    17
    6

    Sleepwalk with Me

    Amy Schumer, Lauren Ambrose
    Sleepwalk with Me is a 2012 American independent comedy film written by, directed by, and...  more
  • 18
    Waiting for "Superman" is a 2010 documentary film from director Davis Guggenheim and producer...  more
  • 19
    17
    6

    The Waterdance

    Helen Hunt, Wesley Snipes
    The Waterdance is a 1992 American drama film written by Neal Jimenez and directed by Jimenez...  more
  • 20
    11
    3

    Picture Bride

    Toshiro Mifune, Tamlyn Tomita
    Picture Bride is an American Japanese language 1995 feature-length independent film directed...  more
  • 21
    11
    4

    Smoke Signals

    Perrey Reeves, Cynthia Geary
    Smoke Signals is an independent film directed and co-produced by Chris Eyre and with a...  more
  • 22
    11
    4

    Fuel

    Bernard Shakey, Sheryl Crow
    Fuel is a 2008 documentary film directed by Josh Tickell and produced by Greg Reitman, Dale...  more
  • 23
    4
    2

    Whiplash

    J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
    Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film directed by Damien Chazelle. A promising young drummer...  more
  • 24
    23
    9

    Spanking the Monkey

    Carla Gallo, Jeremy Davies
    Spanking the Monkey is a 1994 American black comedy film written and directed by David O....  more
  • 25
    14
    7

    American Dream

    Jesse Jackson, Juan Muñoz
    Through the lenses of cameras, an exploration into the minds - the hopes, dreams, ...  more