films The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners  

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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.

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The Station Agent is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Station Agent 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

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The Cove is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Cove 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

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Hustle & Flow is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Hustle & Flow 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

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Sex, Lies, and Videotape is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Sex, Lies, and Videotape Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Laura San Giacomo Sex, Lies, and Videotape 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 sexuality, ...more

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Hoop Dreams is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Hoop Dreams 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

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Maria Full of Grace is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Maria Full of Grace 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

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El Mariachi is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
El Mariachi 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

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Precious: Based on the Novel P... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire 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

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American Dream is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
American Dream Jesse Jackson, Juan Muñoz Through the lenses of cameras, an exploration into the minds - the hopes, dreams, expectations - of their bearers reminds us of the value that has been so deeply ingrained into the ...more

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Spanking the Monkey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Spanking the Monkey Carla Gallo, Jeremy Davies, Alberta Watson Spanking the Monkey is a 1994 American black comedy film written and directed by David O. Russell. The title is a slang phrase for masturbation and is used in the film by one of the teenage ...more

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Real Women Have Curves is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Real Women Have Curves 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

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The Waterdance is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Waterdance 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

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Waiting for
Waiting for "Superman" 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

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Sleepwalk with Me is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Sleepwalk with Me 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

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Love Jones is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Love Jones Nia Long, Isaiah Washington, Lisa Nicole Carson Love Jones is a 1997 American romantic drama film written and directed by Theodore Witcher, in his feature film debut. It stars Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Isaiah Washington, Bill Bellamy, and Lisa ...more

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Fuel is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Fuel 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

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Longtime Companion is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Longtime Companion Mary-Louise Parker, Tony Shalhoub, Dermot Mulroney Longtime Companion is a 1989 film with Bruce Davison, Campbell Scott, Patrick Cassidy, and Mary-Louise Parker. The first wide-release theatrical film to deal with the subject of AIDS, the film ...more

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The Sessions is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Sessions 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

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Murderball is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Murderball Murderball is a 2005 American documentary film about physically disabled athletes who play wheelchair rugby. It centers on the rivalry between the Canadian and U.S. teams leading up to the 2004 ...more

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This Is Martin Bonner is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
This Is Martin Bonner Richmond Arquette, Paul Gregory, Robert Longstreet This Is Martin Bonner is an American drama film written and directed by Chad Hartigan. The film stars Paul Eenhoorn as Martin Bonner, a man in his late 50s forced to relocate to Reno, Nevada, ...more

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Berkeley in the Sixties is listed (or ranked) 21 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

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Smoke Signals is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Smoke Signals 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

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Quinceañera is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Quinceañera Emily Rios, Alicia Sixtos, Jesse Garcia Quinceañera is a 2006 American independent drama film written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Set in Echo Park, Los Angeles, the film follows the lives of two young ...more

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Three Seasons is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Three Seasons 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

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Out of the Past is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Out of the Past Gwyneth Paltrow, Edward Norton, Stephen Spinella Out of the Past is a 1998 documentary film directed by Jeffrey Dupre.

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Born into Brothels: Calcutta's... is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids is a 2004 Indian-American documentary film about the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Kolkata's red light district. The widely acclaimed film, ...more

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Happythankyoumoreplease is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Happythankyoumoreplease Kate Mara, Malin Åkerman, Josh Radnor happythankyoumoreplease is a 2010 comedy-drama film written and directed by Josh Radnor in his directorial debut. The film stars Radnor, Malin Åkerman, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Michael ...more

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Hurricane Streets is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Hurricane Streets Edie Falco, Adrian Grenier, Heather Matarazzo 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 ...more

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For All Mankind is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
For All Mankind Buzz Aldrin, Gus Grissom, Alan Bean For All Mankind is a 1989 documentary film documenting the Apollo missions of NASA. It was directed by Al Reinert with music by Brian Eno. The film provides 80 minutes of real NASA footage, ...more

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Fruitvale Station is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Fruitvale Station Octavia Spencer, Chad Michael Murray, Michael B. Jordan Fruitvale is a 2013 drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler.

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Picture Bride is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Picture Bride 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

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Buck is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Buck Scarlett Johansson, Sam Neill Buck is a 2010 documentary film directed by Cindy Meehl. "A living legend in the horse world, Buck Brannaman was the inspiration for The Horse Whisperer. For this true cowboy, horses are a ...more

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Homewrecker is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Homewrecker Michelle Krusiec, Mary Beth Peil, Stephen Rannazzisi "Mike is a locksmith. He’s also a prisoner on work release, but you wouldn’t know it. He’s just trying to focus on his house calls and reconcile with his ex-girlfriend—until Margo hijacks ...more

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The Invisible War is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Invisible War The Invisible War is a 2012 documentary film written and directed by Kirby Dick.

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Unzipped is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Unzipped Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington Burns, Linda Evangelista Unzipped is a 1995 American documentary film, directed by Douglas Keeve. It follows fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, Keeve's then boyfriend, as he plans and ultimately shows his fall 1994 ...more

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The Wackness is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Wackness Famke Janssen, Ben Kingsley, Mary-Kate Olsen The Wackness is a 2008 American coming-of-age drama film by Jonathan Levine and starring Josh Peck, Ben Kingsley, Mary-Kate Olsen, Famke Janssen, and Olivia Thirlby. The film is distributed by ...more

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Paul Monette: The Brink of Sum... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End is a 1996 documentary biographical film written and directed by Monte Bramer.

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Metro Manila is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Metro Manila John Arcilla, Althea Vega, Miles Canapi Metro Manila is a 2013 action crime drama film written by Sean Ellis and Frank E. Flowers and directed by Sean Ellis.

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Circumstance is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Circumstance Sarah Kazemy, Nasrin Pakkho, Reza Sixo Safai Circumstance is a 2011 drama film written and directed by Maryam Keshavarz. "Teenagers Atafeh, and her best friend, Shireen, are experimenting with their burgeoning sexuality amidst the ...more

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to.get.her is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
to.get.her Cullen Moss, Traci Dinwiddie, Jason Davis to.get.her is a 2011 mystery film written and directed by Erica Dunton.

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Two Family House is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Two Family House Kelly Macdonald, Vincent Pastore, John Pizzarelli Two Family House is a 2000 film produced by Alan Klingenstein, based on the story of the uncle of the film's writer and director Raymond De Felitta. The film won the Audience Award at Sundance ...more

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Amandla! A Revolution in Four ... is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR PART HARMONY tells the story of black South African freedom music and the central role it played against apartheid. The first film to specifically consider the ...more

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Genghis Blues is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Genghis Blues B.B. King, Richard Feynman, Paul Pena Genghis Blues is a documentary film directed by Roko Belic. It centers on the journey of blind American singer Paul Pena to the isolated Russian state of Tuva due to his interest in Tuvan throat ...more

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Something Within Me is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Something Within Me

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The Square is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
The Square The Square (El Midan) is a 2012 documentary directed by Jehane Noujaim.

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Ballot Measure 9 is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Ballot Measure 9 Ballot Measure 9 is a 1995 documentary film directed and produced by Heather Lyn Macdonald. The film examines the cultural and political battle that took place in 1992 over Oregon Ballot Measure ...more

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Brother's Keeper is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Brother's Keeper Brother's Keeper is a 1992 documentary directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. The film is about an alleged 1990 murder in the village of Munnsville, New York. The film is in the ...more

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God Grew Tired of Us is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
God Grew Tired of Us God Grew Tired of Us is a 2006 documentary film about three of the "Lost Boys of Sudan", a group of some 25,000 young men who have fled the wars in Sudan since the 1980s, and their ...more

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My Flesh and Blood is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
My Flesh and Blood My Flesh and Blood is a 2003 documentary film by Jonathan Karsh chronicling a year in the life of the Tom family. The Tom family is notable as the mother, Susan Tom, adopted eleven children, ...more

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Care of the Spitfire Grill is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Sundance Audience Award Winners
Care of the Spitfire Grill