The Top 50 Must-See Sundance Movies

Every year, representatives of one of America’s hottest industries convince in Park City, UT to freeze their buns off and make important discoveries. This is The Sundance Film Festival, and for over 30 years now it has been the haven for new filmmakers, experimental visions and – in no uncertain terms – the future of film as we know it.

Originally founded in 1978 as the Utah/US Film Festival, the institution was soon taken over by The Sundance Institute in 1984. One year later it introduced the world to now-celebrated icons The Coen Bros., who made their directorial debut, and gave us the first major work from Jim Jarmusch. Practically every year since, important artistic voices emerged from The Sundance Film Festival, many of whom went on to push the cinematic envelope, win Oscars, direct blockbusters and inspire new generations to follow in their footsteps.


Related: Sundance Survival Guide: 15 Tips for the Festival


CraveOnline will be present at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to try to discover what the next important films will be, but for those of you at home, we wanted to present you with an in-depth look at all of the important Sundance Movies over the years. We asked our four film critics – William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold, Fred Topel and Brian Formo – to nominate what they considered the most significant Sundance movies. We compiled their votes and now we are letting them present the results, with each of what we are calling The Top 50 Must-See Sundance Movies introduced by one of the critics who championed its inclusion.

What follows are the incredible films that make The Sundance Film Festival what it is today. If you can’t go to the festival, track these movies down and make some discoveries of your own. Let us know how many you’ve already seen, and let us know what you think of all the films you’d never watched before!


The Top 50 Must-See Sundance Movies:

The 50 Runners-Up:

51. Once (2006, dir. John Carney)

52. Hoosiers (1986, dir. John Anspaugh)

53. Secretary (2002, dir. Steven Shainberg)

54. Enter the Void (2009, dir. Gaspar Noe)

55. Garden State (2004, dir. Zach Braff)

56. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984, dir. Robert Epstein)

57. Moon (2009, dir. Duncan Jones)

58. River’s Edge (1986, dir. Tim Hunter)

59. Public Access (1993, dir. Bryan Singer)

60. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011, dir. Sean Durkin)

61. Citizen Ruth (1996, dir. Alexander Payne)

62. Searching for Sugarman (2012, dir. Malik Bendjelloul)

63. House Party (1990, dir. Reginald Hudlin)

64. House of Sand (2005, dir. Andrucha Waddington)

65. The Brothers McMullen (1995, dir. Edward Burns)

66. The Grifters (1990, dir. Stephen Frears)

67. Trust (1990, dir. Hal Hartley)

68. Fresh (1994, dir. Boaz Yakin)

69. Paris is Burning (1990, dir. Jennie Livingston)

70. Upstream Color (2013, dir. Shane Carruth)

71. Another Earth (2007, dir. Mike Cahill)

72. Sound of My Voice (2001, dir. Zaj Batmanglij)

73. Trouble the Water (2008, dirs. Carl Deal and Tia Lessin)

74. Teeth (2007, dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein)

75. Moonstruck (1987, dir. Norman Jewison)

76. To Sleep with Anger (1990, dir. Charles Burnett)

77. Poison (1991, dir. Todd Haynes)

78. Freeway (1996, dir. Matthew Bright)

79. Big Night (1996, dirs. Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci)

80. The Celluloid Closet (1995, dirs. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)

81. Girlfight (2000, dir. Karyn Kusama)

82. You Can Count On Me (2000, dir. Kenneth Lonergan)

83. SLC Punk! (1998, dir. James Merendino)

84. Blue Valentine (2010, dir. Derek Cianfrance)

85. Brother’s Keeper (1992, dirs. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky)

86. 28 Days Later… (2002, dir. Danny Boyle)

87. Sin nombre (2009, dir. Cary Fukunaga)

88. Buffalo ’66 (1998, dir. Vincent Gallo)

89. Man on Wire (2008, dir. James Marsh)

90. (500) Days of Summer (2009, dir. Marc Webb)

91. Smoke Signals (1998, dir. Chris Eyre)

92. Ruby in Paradise (1993, dir. Victor Nunez)

93. Thirteen (2003, dir. Catherine Hardwicke)

94. Black Dynamite (2009, dir. Scott Sanders)

95. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010, dir. Banksy)

96. The Station Agent (2003, dir. Thomas McCarthy)

97. Fruitvale Station (2013, dir. Ryan Coogler)

98. The Woman (2011, dir. Lucky McKee)

99. Margin Call (2011, dir. J.C. Chandor)

100. Frozen River (2008, dir. Courtney Hunt)