The guided-mode resonance (GMR) concept refers to lateral quasi-guided waveguide modes induced in periodic layers. Whereas these effects have been known for a long time, new attributes and innovations continue to appear. Here, we review some recent progress in this field with emphasis on sparse, or minimal, device embodiments. We discuss properties of wideband resonant reflectors designed with gratings in which the grating ridges are matched to an identical material to eliminate local reflections and phase changes. This critical interface therefore possesses zero refractive-index contrast; hence we call them “zero-contrast gratings.” Applying this architecture, we present single-layer, wideband reflectors that are robust under experimentally realistic parametric variations. We introduce a new class of reflectors and polarizers fashioned with dielectric nanowire grids that are mostly empty space. Computed results predict high reflection and attendant polarization extinction for these sparse lattices. Experimental verification with Si nanowire grids yields ~200-nm-wide band of high reflection for one polarization state and free transmission of the orthogonal state. Finally, we present bandpass filters using all-dielectric resonant gratings. We design, fabricate, and test nanostructured single layer filters exhibiting high efficiency and sub-nanometer-wide passbands surrounded by 100-nm-wide stopbands.