‘Whiplash’ Named Top Sundance Film of All Time in Festival Poll of Over 500 Filmmakers and Critics

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the iconic Sundance Film Festival, the nonprofit Sundance Institute is looking back on the legacy of films that debuted at the fest.

After surveying more than 500 filmmakers, critics, and industry members, Damien Chazelle’s 2014 debut feature “Whiplash” was awarded the title of top Sundance film of all time. “Whiplash” actor JK Simmons won the Academy Award for his portrayal of an abusive music teacher opposite Miles Teller. Writer-director Chazelle went on to direct “First Man,” “La La Land,” and “Babylon.”

The Sundance Film Festival since 1985 has premiered 4,000 feature films over the decades. The collective top 10 list of the Sundance Film Festival celebrates films that have “touched hearts and changed lives,” according to the Institute.

While Chazelle’s Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize-winning “Whiplash” landed in the top slot, Joel and Ethan Coen’s directorial debut “Blood Simple,” Alfonso Cuarón’s “Y tu mamá también,” Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” and “Before Sunrise,” Christopher Nolan’s “Memento,” Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ “Little Miss Sunshine,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” and Steven Soderbergh’s “sex, lies, and videotape” were all among the top 10 list.

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“Blood Simple,” which debuted at the very first Sundance Film Festival, won the Grand Jury Prize. “Sex, lies, and videotape” was awarded the Audience Award, while “Memento” earned writer-director Nolan the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

This year’s Sundance Film Festival kicks off January 18 in person in Park City and Salt Lake City, with a selection of titles available online nationwide from January 25 through 28. The festival is encouraging attendees and cinephiles alike to share their own personal top 10 films that have screened at the Sundance Film Festival over the years. Per the social media prompt, the Institute is looking for features that challenged, thrilled, or changed your worldview.

“What 10 films for you best represent the breadth, diversity, artistic resonance, social, political, or cultural impact of independent storytelling that have screened at the Sundance Film Festival?” the statement reads.

Below, see the 40th edition all time top 10 films selected by the filmmaking community, as surveyed by the Sundance Institute.

10. “Blood Simple” (1985), Joel and Ethan Coen

9. “Y tu mamá también” (2002), Alfonso Cuarón

8. “Boyhood” (2014), Richard Linklater

7. “Before Sunrise” (1995), Richard Linklater

6. “sex, lies, and videotape” (1989), Steven Soderbergh

5. “Memento” (2001), Christopher Nolan

4. “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006), Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

3. “Get Out” (2017), Jordan Peele

2. “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), Quentin Tarantino

1. “Whiplash” (2014), Damien Chazelle

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