Entertainment

The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners  

Ranker Film
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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.
list ordered by
1
The Station Agent is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Michelle Williams, Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson
The Station Agent is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Thomas McCarthy. McCarthy's script about a man who seeks solitude in an abandoned train station in the Newfoundland ...more
2
The Cove is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that analyzes and questions dolphin hunting practices in Japan. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film is a call to ...more
3
Sex, Lies, and Videotape is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Laura San Giacomo
This film is a 1989 American independent drama film that brought director Steven Soderbergh to prominence. It tells the story of a man who films women discussing their impact on the ...more
4
Hoop Dreams is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James and written by James and Frederick Marx, with Kartemquin Films. It follows the story of two African-American high school ...more
5
Maria Full of Grace is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Patricia Rae, Jaime Osorio Gómez
Maria Full of Grace is a 2004 joint film production between Colombia and the U.S. written and directed by Joshua Marston, who went on to win the Independent Spirit Award for Best First ...more
6
Hustle & Flow is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Taraji P. Henson, Ludacris, Terrence Howard
Hustle & Flow is a 2005 American independent drama film written and directed by Craig Brewer and produced by John Singleton and Stephanie Allain. It was released on July 22, 2005. Terrence ...more
7
Out of the Past is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Gwyneth Paltrow, Edward Norton, Stephen Spinella
Out of the Past is a 1998 documentary film directed by Jeffrey Dupre.
8
Three Seasons is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Harvey Keitel, Đơn Dương, Tran Manh Cuong
Three Seasons is an American Vietnamese language film filmed in Vietnam about the past, present, and future of Ho Chi Minh City in the early days of Doi Moi. It is a poetic film that tries to ...more
9
The Sessions is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood
Starring Academy Award® Nominee John Hawkes, Academy Award® Nominee William H. Macy and Academy Award® Winner Helen Hunt, the film is based on the true story of California-based ...more
10
Precious: Based on the Novel P... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Paula Patton
Precious is a 2009 American drama film, directed and co-produced by Lee Daniels. Precious is an adaptation by Geoffrey S. Fletcher of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film stars Gabourey ...more
11
Whiplash is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Miles Teller
Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film directed by Damien Chazelle. A promising young drummer (Miles Teller) enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored ...more
12
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke
This film is a 2015 American comedy-drama film directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and written by Jesse Andrews, based on Andrews's 2012 debut novel of the same name. It is the story of Greg Gaines ...more
13
Longtime Companion is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Mary-Louise Parker, Tony Shalhoub, Dermot Mulroney
Longtime Companion is a 1990 film directed by Norman René and starring Bruce Davison, Campbell Scott, Patrick Cassidy, and Mary-Louise Parker. The first wide-release theatrical film to ...more
14
El Mariachi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Carlos Gallardo, Juan García, María Castillo
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 ...more
15
Brittany Runs a Marathon is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar
Brittany Runs a Marathon is a 2019 American comedy film directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo. A 27-year-old New York woman, Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) takes up running as a way to find direction ...more
16
Crown Heights is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Keith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul
Crown Heights is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed by Matt Ruskin, based on a true story. After being wrongfully convicted of murder, Colin Warner (Keith Stanfield) looks to his ...more
17
The Birth of a Nation is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King
The Birth of a Nation is a 2016 American period drama film based on the story of Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. The film is ...more
18
Smoke Signals is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Perrey Reeves, Cynthia Geary, Adam Beach
Smoke Signals is an independent film directed and co-produced by Chris Eyre and with a screenplay by Sherman Alexie, based on the short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, ...more
19
Fuel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Bernard Shakey, Sheryl Crow, Richard Branson
Fuel is a 2008 documentary film directed by Josh Tickell and produced by Greg Reitman, Dale Rosenbloom, Daniel Assael, Darius Fisher, and Rebecca Harrell Tickell. It won the audience award at ...more
20
Sleepwalk with Me is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Amy Schumer, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane
Sleepwalk with Me is a 2012 American independent comedy film written by, directed by, and starring comedian Mike Birbiglia. The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won the Best ...more
21
Waiting for
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 ...more
22
The Waterdance is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Helen Hunt, Wesley Snipes, Eric Stoltz
The Waterdance is a 1992 American drama film written by Neal Jimenez and directed by Jimenez and Michael Steinberg. It stars Eric Stoltz, Wesley Snipes, William Forsythe and Helen Hunt. The film ...more
23
Real Women Have Curves is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
America Ferrera, George Lopez, Lupe Ontiveros
Real Women Have Curves is a 2002 American movie starring America Ferrera. Directed by Patricia Cardoso and produced by George LaVoo from a screenplay by LaVoo and Josefina Lopez, it debuted at ...more
24
Picture Bride is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Toshiro Mifune, Tamlyn Tomita, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Picture Bride is an American Japanese language 1995 feature-length independent film directed by Kayo Hatta from a screenplay she co-wrote with Mari Hatta, and co-produced by Diane Mei Lin Mark ...more
25
Berkeley in the Sixties is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Berkeley in the Sixties Bobby Seale, Barry Melton, Michael Miller
Berkeley in the Sixties is a 1990 documentary film by Mark Kitchell. The film highlights the origins of the Free Speech Movement beginning with the May 1960 House Un-American Activities ...more