Sundance: 'Whiplash' Takes Top Honors
The drama about a young jazz drummer nabs both Grand Jury (drama) and Audience prizes, while “Rich Hill” takes top documentary as the 30th anniversary of the festival culminates.
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash took top honors at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, nabbing both the Grand Jury prize and the Audience Prize.
The film about a young musician who struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer stemmed from a short that played at last year’s festival.
"It was impossible to finance because no one wants to make a movie about a jazz drummer, which is a total shock to me," Chazelle joked after accepting the Grand Jury prize. "Without people seeing [the short] here at Sundance, we wouldn’t be here today."
Whiplash kicked off the 2014 edition of the indie film festival Jan. 16 as the opening night film and quickly sold to Sony Pictures Classics, buoyed by an enthusiastic response from audiences and critics.
Saturday night's ceremony, held just north of Park City at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, got off to a late start (more than 30 minutes after the scheduled 7 p.m. startmtime), but emcees Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally quelled any cranky spirits with plenty of barbs aimed at the indie crowd.
"There's just something about a movie made outside of the studio system that makes me want to buy some popcorn in Megan's downstairs lobby," Offerman quipped before performing a satirical song with wife Mullally titled Pussy and Weed.
In a repeat of Sundance 2013, the Grand Jury prize dovetailed with the Audience Award (last year, Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station nabbed both prizes).
Leonard Maltin, Peter Saraf, Lone Scherfig, Bryan Singer and Dana Stevens headed up the U.S. Dramatic jury, though Singer was not at the ceremony because he was sick, Maltin told the crowd.
On the documentary front, Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos' Rich Hill took the Grand Jury Documentary Prize. The film chronicles the turbulent lives of three boys living in an impoverished Midwestern town and the fragile family bonds that keep them going.
Also earning doc honors was Ryan White and Ben Cotner’s The Case Against 8, which was bestowed with the U.S. Documentary Directing prize. That film offered a behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. In his acceptance speech, White acknowledged the plaintiffs in the case that he and Cotner followed for more than five years.
"You inspired us. You changed the world," he said. "We hope that all LGBTs can walk in the same footsteps you just did."
The ceremony, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Sundance, drew a phalanx of indie veterans including William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman and 20 Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville.
During the two-hour ceremony, Offerman and Mullally took shots at everyone from Sundance founder Robert Redford to Lindsay Lohan, who made the trek to Park City this year. Offerman was at the festival representing the film Nick Offerman: American Ham in the festival's Premieres section, while Mullally voiced a character in the English-language version of Ernest and Celestine, which made its world premiere in the festival's Sundance Kids section.
The full list of winners can be found below, while highlights from the fest — including exclusive photos and videos with its biggest stars — can be found at THR's Sundance page. Click on the links below to read reviews of the films.
Grand Jury Dramatic: Whiplash
Grand Jury Documentary: Rich Hill
Directing Award U.S. Dramatic: Fishing Without Nets
Directing Award U.S. Documentary: The Case Against 8
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award U.S. Dramatic: The Skeleton Twins
Editing Award U.S. Documentary: Watchers of the Sky
Cinematography Award U.S. Dramatic: Low Down
Cinematography Award U.S. Documentary: E-TEAM
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent: Dear White People
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Use of Animation: Watchers of the Sky
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking: The Overnighters
Audience Award U.S. Dramatic: Whiplash
Audience Award U.S. Documentary presented by Acura: Alive Inside
Audience Award World Cinema Dramatic: Difret
Audience Award World Cinema Documentary: The Green Prince
Audience Award Best of NEXT: Imperial Dreams
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Dramatic To Kill a Man
Directing Award World Cinema Dramatic: 52 Tuesdays
Screenwriting Award World Cinema Dramatic: Blind
Cinematography Award World Cinema Dramatic: Lilting
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance: God Help the Girl
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Documentary: Return to Homs
Directing Award World Cinema Documentary: 20,000 Days on Earth
Editing Award World Cinema Documentary: 20,000 Days on Earth
Cinematography Award World Cinema Documentary: Happiness
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematic Bravery: We Come as Friends
Shorts Audience Award: Chapel Perilous
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: I Origins