List of Sundance Film Festival Award Winners - The Best of the Best

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Winners of the 1980s and 1990s

The 1980s saw the first list of Sundance Film Festival award winners. In 1982, the film Circle of Power received the Grand Jury Prize, which is the highest honor given. The year 1985 saw an increase in Special Jury Prizes, which included the films Almost You, The Killing Floor, Stranger Than Paradise, America and Lewis Hine, In Heaven There is No Beer and Streetwise.

Blood Simple won the Grand Jury Prize for a Dramatic Film and it was the directorial debut of Joel and Ethan Coen. Joel and Ethan Coen are famous for directing various award winning films, including the Academy Award winner No Country for Old Men. Blood Simple was listed #98 in AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Thrills. This film was also listed #73 in Bravo TV’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

In 1990, Houseparty was awarded the Filmmakers Trophy for a Dramatic Film and Metamorphosis won the Filmmakers Trophy for a Documentary film. Metamorphosis was a story about the transformation from man into woman. Houseparty also received the Excellence in Cinematography Award. Houseparty was popular among young people in the 90’s. In the 1990s, audience members also had the opportunity to give awards to their favorite films, such as Longtime Companion and Berkeley in the Sixties.

In 1991, the Grand Jury Prize for a Dramatic Film went to Poison and in 1992 the same award went to In the Soup. Poison was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards; one for Best Director and one for Best First Feature. Seymour Cassel was awarded the Special Jury Recognition for his performance in In The Soup.

Winners in the 2000s

The list of Sundance Film Festival award winners continues to grow, with many short films receiving awards. The Short Filmmaking Award was given to Five Feet High and Rising. The Sundance Film Festival also awarded Latin American films the Special Jury Prize in Latin America Cinema. Herod’s Law and No One Writes to the Colonel were given those awards. Screenwriting was also an important part of the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance awarded various films for it screenplay. In 2001, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was given to Christopher Nolan for Memento and the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking was given to Gina, An Actress, Age 29. Memento was nominated for two Academy Awards for Original Screenplay and Editing. A film about skateboarding called Dogtown and Z-Boys won Sundance’s Directing Award in 2001. This film was later awarded an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature.

In 2002, the Audience Award was given to Real Women Have Curves; which was a dramatic film. Real Women Have Curves starred Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera. It was distributed by HBO. In 2003, Catherine Hardwicke won the Dramatic Directing Award for the movie Thirteen. Holly Hunter was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film. The Dramatic Directing Award honors directors for their exceptional skill in dramatic filmmaking. During the years, more films received more awards. In 2009, Precious was awarded the Grand Jury Prize. Precious went on to receive Academy Award nominations and wins, in a variety of categories. In 2010, a popular documentary Waiting For Superman won the Audience Award for a Documentary Film.

Man On Wire

Man on Wire is a documentary that was filmed in 2008. The film is about Philip Petit and his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. This documentary is mostly based on Petit’s book on the walk. This film was awarded Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize in 2008. Man On Wire won several awards, including a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film, and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary and an Academy Award for Best Documentary.