RANKED! 9 Past Sundance Films Worth Revisiting
Photo: Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions
As Sundance 2019 winds down, after the big deals have been signed, the buzz has quieted, and the swag bags have been gifted, a new Grand Jury Prize Dramatic winner will be crowned. However, winning the acclaimed Grand Jury Prize at Sundance doesn’t guarantee you anything but a stiff handshake from Robert Redford.
Sure, Oscar gold is a possibility, but so is a life buried in a Netflix queue. Do you even remember 2015’s winner? Well, if your memory is a little cloudy, we’ve RANKED! 9 Past Sundance Winners to refresh your mind.
The quintessential Sundance breakout not only garnered critical and box-office acclaim but made A-list stars out of actor Miles Teller and writer/director Damien Chazelle who would go onto win a Best Director Oscar for La La Land. You can see Chazelle's kinetic eye for detail and his obsession with man's obsession early on.
'Fruitvale Station' (2013)
You could say that Sundance was a key contributor to today's film diversity movement by tapping Ryan Coogler's intense, compelling Oscar Grant biopic for the top prize in 2013. Coogler would go onto direct the seminal game-changer Black Panther while star Michael B. Jordan would grow into Hollywood's new leading man.
'Beasts of the Southern Wild' (2012)
Filmmaker Benh Zeitlin's endearing, off-beat fantasy had an unlikely fairy tale run that started at Sundance and ended at the Oscars where it was nominated for four awards (including Best Picture). Greatness was heaped on Zeitlin but he's taken his time with a follow-up, Wendy, which will finally come out in 2019.
'Winter's Bone' (2010)
Writer-director Debra Granik's mystery drama came out of the cold to rack up numerous awards and introduced the world to cherub-faced newcomer and future Oscar nominee regular Jennifer Lawrence aka J-Law.
'I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore' (2017)
Actor Macon Blair's directional debut is a fun-spirited, pulpy indie comedy with a LOL performance by Elijah Wood. Nothing great or ground-breaking to see but a solid Netflix watch.
'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' (2018)
Chloë Grace Moretz stars in this timely coming-of-sexual age drama about a teen who is sent to gay conversion therapy. It was well-received by critics but made little noise within its targeted YA audience (who don't go to the movies anymore anyway).
'Like Crazy' (2011)
Drake Doremus' romantic drama starring the late Anton Yelchin and then-unknown Felicity Jones is a classic Sundance art house pic that's praised for its fine acting and directing but fades away after festival buzz. A far more memorable movie that year is the racing documentary Senna.
'Birth of a Nation' (2016)
Fox Searchlight Pictures bought worldwide rights to Nate Parker's historical drama in a record $17.5 million deal with Oscar hopes on the horizon. The epic story about Nat Turner's slave rebellion turned toxic after a 1999 alleged rape that Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin were accused of resurfaced in 2016. Celebrities including Harvey Weinstein (ahem) came out in Parker's defense (he was acquitted) but the film was considered a box office disappointment and Parker hasn't directed a movie since.
'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' (2015)
Cancer is always a Sundance hot topic but the dopey, melodramatic Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was still a baffling choice considering it won the Grand Prize over the much superior The Witch and The Diary of a Teenage Girl.
What Sundance 2019 movies are you looking forward to seeing? Leave your comments below.