Filmmakers pick Sundance’s Top Ten Feature Films of the past four decades

While Sundance kicks off, the event celebrates 40 years of independent filmmaking with a list of the best movies to screen at the festival.

sundance, whiplash, blood simple

The Sundance Film Festival will be commencing this week. After a preview of the upcoming schedule, this year looks to sport a bevy of AI-themed projects as well as a heavy list of horror films. Sundance will be celebrating its 40th year with a special list of top ten feature films that have been showcased throughout its entire run. These films have been picked by the filmmaking community.

Sundance‘s official press release reads,
“Today, in advance of the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival kicking off on January 18, the nonprofit Sundance Institute is commemorating the four decades of extraordinary independent filmmaking presented at the Festival with the results of a survey taken by the filmmaking communities on their top ten feature films that have screened at the Festival since it began in 1985. 

In honor of this milestone Festival, filmmakers, critics, and industry members shared their personal top 10 lists. Over 500 people participated — pouring over the nearly 4,000 feature films that have been presented at the Festival — and below is the collective top 10 list of the Sundance Film Festival films that have touched hearts and changed lives. 

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 18–28, 2024, in person in Park City and Salt Lake City, with a selection of titles available online nationwide from January 25–28, 2024. This year marks the 40th edition of the Festival, bringing together audiences in Utah and beyond to celebrate Sundance’s rich history of supporting engaging new stories and groundbreaking independent artists. Tickets are on sale now at

What from the 2024 Festival will make the top ten list in the future?” 

40th Edition All Time Top Ten Films Selected by the Filmmaking Community

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

Additionally, if you’d like to make your own list of your favorites, they give you this opportunity with the following details,
“Share your top 10 films that have screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Maybe they challenged you, thrilled you, made you cry, laugh, and see the world differently. What ten 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?

To scroll through our archives and see the feature films from our first four decades use this link:


Social Graphics to post your own list can be found here.”

Source: Sundance

About the Author

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.