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The 15 Best Films at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

Written by on February 1, 2016 

Lovesong (So Yong Kim)

Lovesong 2

Tender and haunting, So Yong Kim’s Lovesong is a carefully observed, nuanced character study beautifully written, directed and edited. Much of the action, like in her pervious features In Between Days, Treeless Mountain and For Ellen occurs at the edge of the frame. Exploring the bounds of motherhood, childhood and maturity, Lovesong is an impressive and observant feature in which Kim allows the relationships the breathing room they require for authenticity. – John F. (full review)

Manchester By the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)

Manchester By the Sea 2

With his unassuming, quietly affecting films leaving such a distinctly indelible impact long after the credits roll, we may only have three films from Kenneth Lonergan across sixteen years, but they provide a lifetime’s worth of human experience. His latest, Manchester By the Sea, finds him in the quaint northeastern Massachusetts town as he immaculately constructs a layered, non-linear exploration of the ripple effects of loss and grief. – Jordan R. (full review)

Morris From America (Chad Hartigan)

Morris From America

Coming to Sundance with his tender character study This is Martin Bonner a few years back, director Chad Hartigan triumphantly returns with the coming-of-age comedy Morris From America, a stylistic leap forward that still retains a keen sense of humanity. Telling the story of our title character attempting to keep his identity while making friends in the foreign land of Germany, it’s also an acutely funny testament to single parenting and the specific bond it fosters when both sides put in their all. – Jordan R. (full review)

Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz)

Weiner Dog

As uncomfortable a viewing experience it may be, the best films from Todd Solondz slowly reveal themselves with their character intricacies and distinct touches, burrowing deep inside as they replay in one’s mind. In his latest feature, Wiener-Dog, he’s crafted a series of incisive, perceptive vignettes mutually connected by the shifting owners of his title character. Aptly described by Solondz as Au Hasard Balthazar meets Benji, there’s no denying it bears his brand of humor and heartbreak in every scene. – Jordan R. (full review)

Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari)

Under the Shadow 1

Cinema is often a space for abstract, subconscious expressions that require airing. Under The Shadow is an inspired psychological thriller from Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari that effectively delivers the thrills expected, and more. Here, the horror is both personal and natural. It’s a theme found amongst a few world cinema selections at Sundance this year, notably the cancer drama A Good Wife, which also uses the landscape of the war torn Bosnia as an emotional theme. – John F. (full review)

The Rest

Embrace of the Serpent (A-)

Author: The JT LeRoy Story (B+)
Cemetery of Splendour (B+)
Life, Animated (B+)
The Lobster (B+)
Nuts! (B+)
Plaza de la Soledad (B+)

A Flag Without a Country (B)
Agnus Dei (B)
All These Sleepless Nights (B)
The Birth of a Nation (B)
Film Hawk (B)
The Fundamentals of Caring (B)
The Greasy Strangler (B)
The Hollars (B)
Hunt For the Wilderpeople (B)
The Land of the Enlightened (B)
Little Men (B)
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (B)
Newtown (B)
Notes on Blindness (B)
Other People (B)
Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny (B)
Rams (B)
Sing Street (B)
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang (B)
Southside With You (B)
Viva (B)
Wild (B)

Christine (B-)
Equity (B-)
Hooligan Sparrow (B-)
How To Tell You’re a Douchebag (B-)
The Illinois Parables (B-)
The Intervention (B-)
Joshy (B-)
The Lure (B-)
Sand Storm (B-)
Sonita (B-)
Unlocking the Cage (B-)

Goat (C+)
Green Room (C+)
Miles Ahead (C+)
Operation Avalanche (C+)
Spa Nights (C+)
Swiss Army Man (C+)
Tickled (C+)
White Girl (C+)

Antibirth (C)
Complete Unknown (C)
The Eyes of My Mother (C)
Kiki (C)
Outlaws and Angels (C)
Pleasure. Love. (C)
Tallulah (C)
Yoga Hosers (C)

Ali and Nino (C-)
Holy Hell (C-)
The Lovers and the Despot (C-)

Audrie & Daisy (D+)
The Free World (D+)


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The Film Stage Show Ep. 174 – 2016 Sundance Film Festival Wrap-Up

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Which Sundance 2016 premieres are you most looking forward to?

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