best movies The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners  

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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. 

list ordered by

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Whiplash is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Whiplash Miles Teller, Melissa Benoist, J.K. Simmons Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle based on his experiences in the Princeton High School Studio Band. Starring Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons, the ...more

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Winter’s Bone is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Winter’s Bone Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt "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 crystal-meth-making father skips ...more

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American Splendor is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
American Splendor Paul Giamatti, Josh Hutchersonm, Molly Shannon 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

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Blood Simple is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Blood Simple Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, M. Emmet Walsh Blood Simple is a 1984 neo-noir crime 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

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Welcome to the Dollhouse is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Welcome to the Dollhouse Heather Matarazzo, Eric Mabius, Ken Leung 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.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke

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The Believer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
The Believer Ryan Gosling, Billy Zane, Natasha Leggero 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

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Fruitvale Station is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Fruitvale Station Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer Fruitvale is a 2013 drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler.

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Girlfight is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Girlfight Michelle Rodriguez, John Sayles, Alicia Ashley 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

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You Can Count on Me is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
You Can Count on Me Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Laura Linney 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

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Precious: Based on the Novel P... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize 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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Beasts of the Southern Wild is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Beasts of the Southern Wild Quvenzhané Wallis, Jay Oliver, Henry D. Coleman 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

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Quinceañera is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize 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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In the Soup is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
In the Soup Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Beals, Sam 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

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Frozen River is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Frozen River Melissa Leo, Mark Boone Junior, Michael O'Keefe 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

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Like Crazy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Like Crazy Jennifer Lawrence, Keeley Hazell, Felicity Jones "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

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Primer is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Primer Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Keith Bradshaw 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

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Ruby in Paradise is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Ruby in Paradise Ashley Judd, Todd Field, Dorothy Lyman 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

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The Brothers McMullen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
The Brothers McMullen Connie Britton, Edward Burns, Maxine Bahns 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

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Forty Shades of Blue is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Forty Shades of Blue Rip Torn, D'Army Bailey, Darren E. Burrows 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

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The Birth of a Nation

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Poison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Poison John Leguizamo, Rob LaBelle, James K. Lyons Todd Haynes' second feature deftly interweaves a trio of tales that build toward a devastating climax.

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Chameleon Street is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Chameleon Street Richard Kiley, Coleman Young, Anthony Ennis Chameleon Street is a 1989 independent film written by, directed by and starring Wendell B. Harris, Jr.. It tells the story of a social chameleon who impersonates reporters, doctors and lawyers ...more

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Personal Velocity: Three Portr... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Personal Velocity: Three Portraits Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk Personal Velocity: Three Portraits is a 2002 American independent film written and directed by Rebecca Miller.

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True Love is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
True Love Annabella Sciorra, Vincent Pastore, Aida Turturro True Love is a 1989 American comedy film directed by Nancy Savoca. An unflinching look at the realities of love and marriage which offers no "happily ever after" ending, it won the ...more

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The Young Poisoner's Handbook is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
The Young Poisoner's Handbook Roger Lloyd-Pack, Antony Sher, Ruth Sheen The Young Poisoner's Handbook is a 1995 British-German-French-produced black comedy film based on the life of Graham Young, more commonly known as "The Teacup Murderer". It was ...more

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Three Seasons is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize 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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Waiting for the Moon is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Waiting for the Moon Linda Hunt, Andrew McCarthy, Bruce McGill 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

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Heat and Sunlight is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Heat and Sunlight Ernie Fosselius, Rob Nilsson, Bill Bailey Heat and Sunlight is a 1987 independent film written, directed by and starring Rob Nilsson. It tells the story of a photojournalist who had worked in Biafra trying to patch up his relationship ...more

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Smooth Talk is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Smooth Talk Laura Dern, Levon Helm, Mary Kay Place Smooth Talk is a 1985 drama film, loosely based on Joyce Carol Oates' 1966 short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, which was in turn inspired by the Tucson murders committed by ...more

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Old Enough is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Old Enough Alyssa Milano, Danny Aiello, Gerry Bamman Old Enough is a 1984 American drama film written and directed by Marisa Silver, produced by Dina Silver, and is also Alyssa Milano's debut role. A low-budget production, the film won the Grand ...more

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What Happened Was is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
What Happened Was Tom Noonan, Karen Sillas What Happened Was... is a 1994 independent film written, directed by and starring Tom Noonan. It is an adaptation of Noonan's original play of the same name.

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Slam is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Slam Saul Williams, Marion Barry, Sonja Sohn Slam is a 1998 independent film starring Saul Williams and Sonja Sohn. It tells the story of a young African-American man whose talent for poetry is hampered by his social background. It won the ...more

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Our Father is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Our Father Eugenio Derbez, Jesús Ochoa, Paola Mendoza Padre Nuestro, also known as Sangre de Mi Sangre is a 2007 Argentinean-American thriller film written and directed by Christopher Zalla, produced by Benjamin Odell and Per Melita and starring ...more

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Sunday is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Sunday Ajay Devgan, Jared Harris, Irrfan Khan Sunday is a 1997 independent film. Set in Queens, a borough of New York City, it is a dark comedy about an unemployed, homeless IBM functionary mistaken by an aging actress for famous film ...more

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The Trouble with Dick is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
The Trouble with Dick Susan Dey, Jack Carter, Tom Villard The Trouble with Dick is a 1987 comedy and science fiction film written and directed by Gary Walkow.

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Public Access is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners
Public Access Bert Williams, Brandon Boyce, Ron Marquette Public Access is a 1993 American drama film directed by Bryan Singer in his feature film debut. Singer also wrote the screenplay with Christopher McQuarrie and Michael Feit Dougan. The film was ...more