Entertainment

The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners

List Rules
Best 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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list ordered by
  • The life of train aficionado and downcast little person Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) takes an unexpected turn when his boss dies and wills him a railroad depot in New Jersey. He decides to ...more
  • Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, in pursuit of rising to the top of his elite music conservatory. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor known for his ...more
  • Ann (Andie MacDowell) is trapped in a sexually and emotionally unfulfilled relationship with her husband, John (Peter Gallagher), a successful but unpleasant lawyer who is sleeping with her sister, ...more
  • During the 1980s, a group of gay men and their straight female friend confront the spread of AIDS. Personal trainer Willy (Campbell Scott) watches the epidemic grow, advocating for awareness. Willy's ...more
  • Though a childhood bout with polio left him dependent on an iron lung, Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) maintains a career as a journalist and poet. A writing assignment dealing with sex and the disabled ...more
  • Seventeen-year-old Colombian Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is desperate: pregnant and with a large family to care for, she's forced to leave a demanding job after an altercation with her boss. ...more
  • Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominately white ...more
  • In Taiji, Japan, local fishermen hide a gruesome secret: the capture and slaughter of dolphins. Activist Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the "Flipper" TV series, joins forces with filmmaker ...more
  • Pregnant by her own father for the second time, 16-year-old Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) can neither read nor write and suffers constant abuse at the hands of her vicious mother ...more
  • Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and young daughter ...more
  • Arnold (Gary Farmer) rescued Thomas (Evan Adams) from a fire when he was a child. Thomas thinks of Arnold as a hero, while Arnold's son Victor (Adam Beach) resents his father's alcoholism, violence ...more
  • After the father of Riyo (Youki Kudoh) dies, she becomes the arranged wife of Matsuji (Akira Takayama), a migrant worker in Hawaii. Riyo travels from Japan to the United States, but finds it ...more
  • An awkward high-school senior (Thomas Mann) and a gravely ill classmate (Olivia Cooke) surprise themselves by becoming inseparable friends.
  • Bright young student Raymond Aibelli (Jeremy Davies) is forced to sidetrack an important medical internship because his mother, Susan (Alberta Watson), is recovering from a broken leg. When he isn't ...more
  • Curves on a blossoming young woman can be sexy, but not if you are told you have too many of them. "Real Women Have Curves" is a humorous and warmhearted look at a Mexican-American teenage girl ...more
  • This documentary introduces the U.S. quad rugby team -- a team composed entirely of young paraplegic men. Using special wheelchairs and very little protection, the players play full-contact ...more
  • An ex-convict (Richmond Arquette) believes that a 58-year-old divorced man (Paul Eenhoorn) is a kindred spirit who can help him get his life back on track.
  • Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky directed this documentary about a death in upstate New York in 1990. The eldest of a family of four brothers, William Ward, was found dead in his home, and ...more
  • DJay (Terrence Howard) is a pimp living day to day on the tough streets of Memphis, Tennessee. Pushing 40, he's tired of the life he's living and dreams of something greater. When he meets up with an ...more
  • El Mariachi is a 1992 American action film and the first installment in the saga that came to be known as Robert Rodriguez's Mexico Trilogy. It marked the debut of Rodriguez as writer and director. ...more
  • Anxiety over his stalled career and outside pressure to marry his longtime lover (Lauren Ambrose) push a commitment-shy comic (Mike Birbiglia) to sleepwalk.
  • Injured in a climbing accident, writer Joel Garcia (Eric Stoltz) wakes up in a hospital having lost the use of his legs. Soon after, he's placed in a recovery ward where he begins the arduous process ...more
  • Hurricane Streets is a 1997 American coming-of-age drama which was the debut feature film from writer-director Morgan J. Freeman. The film won the Audience, Best Director, and Best Cinematography ...more
  • Waiting for "Superman" is a 2010 documentary film from director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott. The film analyzes the failures of the American public education system by following ...more
  • In 1964 the Berkeley campus of the University of California became the seedbed of the nascent antiwar movement when student demonstrations culminated in the mass arrest of hundreds of protesters. ...more