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The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners 

Ranker Film
Updated November 11, 2019 760 votes 112 voters 6.2k views 40 items

List Rules Complete list of movies that won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film.

List of the best Sundance Grand Jury Prize winners, as ranked by movie critics and film lovers everywhere. Once every January, the best filmmakers in the United States put on their warm clothing and head towards Salt Lake City, Utah, where one of the biggest American film festivals is held annually. There they show the films they’ve put their blood, sweat, and tears into making the finest films in the country. The best of the best films will even earn the Sundance Grand Prize, the highest honor a film can receive in the festival circuit. The movies that have premiered at Sundance have gone on to be the most successful indie movies in the business.

This list answers the question, “What are the best Sundance Grand Prize winning films?” The movies featured on this list are emotional, brilliantly written, filled with talented actors, and directed beautifully, which is why they are often considered the film world’s finest.

Whether you enjoy quirky coming of age films like Welcome to the Dollhouse and Beasts of the Southern Wild or gritty tales of people often forgotten like Winter’s Bone or Precious, this list has the best Sundance films that anybody will be sure to enjoy. 

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list ordered by
1
Whiplash is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2014

Actors: Miles Teller, Melissa Benoist, J.K. Simmons

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

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
2
Ranker Video
2015

Actors: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman

Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a 2015 American comedy-drama film directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, based on the 2012 novel by Jesse Andrews. High schooler Greg (Thomas Mann), who spends most ...more
3
Blood Simple is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1984

Actors: Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, M. Emmet Walsh, Dan Hedaya, John Getz, + more

Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Blood Simple is a 1984 neo-noir film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It was the directorial debut of the Coens and the first major film of cinematographer Barry ...more
4
Winter’s Bone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2010

Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, Dale Dickey, Sheryl Lee, + more

Directed by: Debra Granik

"Deep in the Ozark Mountains, clans live by a code of conduct that no one dares defy—until an intrepid teenage girl has no other choice. When Ree Dolly's father skips bail and goes missing, ...more
5
American Splendor is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2003

Actors: Paul Giamatti, Josh Hutchersonm, Molly Shannon, Donal Logue, Hope Davis, + more

Directed by: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman

American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film is also in part an adaptation of the ...more
6
Fruitvale Station is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2013

Actors: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based on true events. The story of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, ...more
7
Precious: Based on the N... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2009

Actors: Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique Imes-Jackson, Sherri Shepherd, + more

Directed by: Lee Daniels

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
8
Welcome to the Dollhouse... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1995

Actors: Heather Matarazzo, Eric Mabius, Ken Leung, Christina Vidal, Brendan Sexton III, + more

Directed by: Todd Solondz

Welcome to the Dollhouse is a 1995 American independent coming of age comedy film. An independent film, it launched the careers of Todd Solondz and Heather Matarazzo.
9
You Can Count on Me is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2000

Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Laura Linney, Josh Lucas, Gaby Hoffmann, + more

Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan

You Can Count on Me is a 2000 American drama film starring Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, it tells the story of Sammy, ...more
10
Primer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2004

Actors: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Keith Bradshaw, Kevin Lucero Less, Casey Gooden, + more

Directed by: Shane Carruth

Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel. The film was written, directed, produced, edited and scored by Shane Carruth, who ...more
11
Beasts of the Southern W... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2012

Actors: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jay Oliver, Henry D. Coleman, Philip Lawrence, Dwight Henry, + more

Directed by: Benh Zeitlin

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a 2012 American fantasy drama film directed by Benh Zeitlin and adapted by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar's one-act play Juicy and Delicious. After playing at ...more
12
The Believer is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2001

Actors: Ryan Gosling, Billy Zane, Natasha Leggero, Garret Dillahunt, Elizabeth Reaser, + more

Directed by: Henry Bean

The Believer is a 2001 American drama film co-written and directed by Henry Bean. The film stars Ryan Gosling as Daniel Balint, a Jew who becomes a Neo-Nazi. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the ...more
13
The Miseducation of Came... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2018

Actors: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, John Gallagher, Jr., Forrest Goodluck, + more

Directed by: Desiree Akhavan

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a 2018 American-British drama film directed by Desiree Akhavan, based on the 2012 novel by Emily M. Danforth. In 1993, a teenage girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) is ...more
14
I Don't Feel at Home in ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Actors: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye

Directed by: Macon Blair

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (often stylized i don't feel at home in this world anymore.) is a 2017 comedy crime thriller film written and directed by Macon Blair. A nurse, Ruth ...more
15
Girlfight is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2000

Actors: Michelle Rodriguez, John Sayles, Alicia Ashley, Paul Calderón, Michael Bentt, + more

Directed by: Karyn Kusama

Girlfight is a 2000 American sports drama film written and directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Michelle Rodriguez in both of their film debuts. It follows Diana Guzman, a troubled teenager ...more
16
In the Soup is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1992

Actors: Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Beals, Sam Rockwell, Stanley Tucci, Carol Kane, + more

Directed by: Alexandre Rockwell

In the Soup is a 1992 independent film comedy directed by Alexandre Rockwell. It stars Steve Buscemi as a self-conscious screenwriter who has written an unfilmable 500-page screenplay and is ...more
17
Like Crazy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2011

Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Keeley Hazell, Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Alex Kingston, + more

Directed by: Drake Doremus

"Like Crazy is a film from and about the heart. Jacob, an American, and Anna, who is British, meet at college in Los Angeles and fall madly in love. It’s the purest kind of romance—they’re ...more
18
Frozen River is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2008

Actors: Melissa Leo, Mark Boone Junior, Michael O'Keefe, Charlie McDermott, Nancy Wu, + more

Directed by: Courtney Hunt

Frozen River is a 2008 American crime drama film written and directed by Courtney Hunt. The screenplay focuses on two working-class women who smuggle illegal immigrants from Canada to the United ...more
19
Quinceañera is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2006

Actors: Emily Rios, Alicia Sixtos, Jesse Garcia, Jason L. Wood, David W. Ross, + more

Directed by: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland

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
20
Clemency is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
2019

Actors: Alfre Woodard, Richard Schiff, Danielle Brooks, Michael O'Neill, Richard Gunn, + more

Directed by: Chinonye Chukwu

Clemency is a 2019 American drama film directed by Chinonye Chukwu. A Death Row prison warden, Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) makes a connection to the prisoner she is sanctioned to
21
Ruby in Paradise is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1993

Actors: Ashley Judd, Todd Field, Dorothy Lyman, Andy Anderson, Allison Dean, + more

Directed by: Victor Nuñez

Ruby in Paradise is a 1993 film written, directed, and edited by Victor Nuñez, and starring Ashley Judd, Todd Field, Bentley Mitchum, Allison Dean, and Dorothy Lyman. It is a homage to ...more
22
The Brothers McMullen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1995

Actors: Connie Britton, Edward Burns, Maxine Bahns, Mike McGlone, Shari Albert, + more

Directed by: Edward Burns

The Brothers McMullen is a 1995 American comedy-drama film written, directed, produced by, and starring Edward Burns. It deals with the lives of the three Irish Catholic McMullen brothers from ...more
23
Forty Shades of Blue is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Forty Shades of Blue 2005

Actors: Rip Torn, D'Army Bailey, Darren E. Burrows, Joanne Pankow, Stuart Greer, + more

Directed by: Ira Sachs

Forty Shades of Blue is a 2005 independent film directed by Ira Sachs. It tells the story of Alan James, an aging music producer who lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his much younger Russian ...more
24
Poison is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1991

Actors: John Leguizamo, Rob LaBelle, James K. Lyons, Evan Dunsky, Lydia Lafleur, + more

Directed by: Todd Haynes

Todd Haynes' second feature deftly interweaves a trio of tales that build toward a devastating climax.
25
Waiting for the Moon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
1987

Actors: Linda Hunt, Andrew McCarthy, Bruce McGill, Jacques Boudet, Bernadette Lafont, + more

Directed by: Jill Godmilow

Waiting for the Moon is a 1987 Twentieth Century Fox film about Gertrude Stein and her lover and assistant Alice B. Toklas, played by Linda Bassett and Linda Hunt. Set in the 1930s, it depicts ...more