« All Features

The Best Films at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Written by on January 29, 2018 

sundance-2018-header

With over 50 films viewed and more coverage coming from the Sundance Film Festival, it’s time to wrap up the first major cinema event in 2018. We already got the official jury and audience winners (here), and now it’s time to highlight our favorites.

One will find our favorites (in alphabetical order), followed by the rest of our reviews (from best to worst, including previously premiered features). Check out everything below and stay tuned to our site, and specifically Twitter, for acquisition and release-date news on the below films in the coming months.

Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene)

bisbee

Here is a story that makes Faulkner’s adage about the past not being past seem horribly valid. A hundred years ago, both the Arizona mining town of Bisbee and America itself were wracked with controversy over pointless war, hatred toward immigrants, and rampant inequality and injustice. Today, only the wars are different. In 1917, over a thousand miners protesting for better wages and working conditions were rounded up by authorities in Bisbee, with the help of two thousand deputized townspeople. At the behest of the company which essentially owned the town, the strikers were crowded onto a train and exiled to New Mexico, threatened with death if they ever returned. Most of them were immigrants, most of whom came from Mexico. In 2017, the residents of Bisbee, now long past its days as a mining town, observe the centennial of the deportation with a reenactment of it. Robert Greene and his crew were there to film it. – Dan S. (full review)

Damsel (David and Nathan Zellner)

damsel-2

Two men sit on a bench in the vast desert of the American west waiting for a stagecoach that’s nowhere to be found. One, a grizzled preacher (Robert Forster), is fed up with the ways of the great unknown and headed back east; the other, Parson Henry (David Zellner), is headed west and eager to start a new life. “Things are going to be shitty in new and interesting ways,” Forster’s character warns the newcomer, dashing his hopes that what awaits isn’t the land of his dreams. For the beautiful Penelope (Mia Wasikowska), however, this terrain is far more dangerous. Surrounded by desperate men at every turn, the mission of the west is not just to survive, but live by her own romantic means. – Jordan R. (full review)

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross)

hale-county-this-morning-this-evening-1

Structurally, Hale County This Morning, This Evening does not do much to distinguish itself from other contemporary vérité documentaries which focus on quotidian details within a certain milieu. But even so, it still finds value in the unique incidents it captures. Send a hundred different filmmakers to a hundred different places, and even if their work is aesthetically identical, they’ll each document at least a few unique moments that will make each piece worth it. Beyond that, director RaMell Ross demonstrates a talent for framing a scene in a striking manner, such as shooting a trash fire so that the rays of the sun shine through the smoke. – Dan S. (full review)

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)

Leave No Trace - Still 2

Early scenes of Leave No Trace feel like The Road. Not the movie adaptation, but Cormac McCarthy’s book, which evokes familial intimacy to an almost harrowing degree. Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire. In setting, this is that story’s pre-apocalyptic mirror, with a father and daughter living in the woods instead of a father and son wandering a wasteland. Here there is good earth instead of ash and striking greenery instead of gunmetal, and the lead characters have willingly separated themselves from civilization instead of being violently torn from it. But the central parent-child bond is of the same species, and the movie’s quiet study of it delivers similar heartbreak. – John F. (full review)

Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker)

madelines-madeline

While many breakthrough directors achieve such a status by helming one feature, Josephine Decker achieved acclaim with two films, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Butter on the Latch, which received theatrical releases simultaneously in 2014. Marking her return to narrative feature filmmaking at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Madeline’s Madeline is a drama of boundless spontaneity as Decker deftly examines mental illness and the potentially exploitative lines a performer may cross when pulling life into art. – Jordan R. (full review)

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos)

mandy

In an era of dime-a-dozen Nicolas Cage movies, you may think you know what you’re getting when sitting down for his latest feature. Rest assured, nothing could prepare you for the experience of Mandy. I’m not even referring to the gory and gleeful shocks–of which the back half has many–but rather Panos Cosmatos’ intoxicating, singular version, which mixes beauty and batshit insanity for an LSD-fueled descent into darkness like no other. – Jordan R. (full review)

Minding the Gap (Bing Liu)

Minding the Gap - Still 1

Lorde’s song “Team,” with its lyrics “we live in cities you’ll never see on screen; not very pretty but we sure know how to run things,” seems to sum up the basic story of Bing Liu’s stirring, visually stunning study of time, place, and self. Minding the Gap is a shape-shifting documentary about lost youth stuck in a form of arrested development. They have not quite risen to the challenge of adulthood, stuck — as Springsteen fans know — in the darkness on the edge of town. Instead of music they turn to skating for salvation in fluid, sweeping low-angle, wide-lens shots that recall the collaborations of Terrence Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki. – John F. (full review)

Continue >>

« 1 2 3»


See More: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


blog comments powered by Disqus


News More

Trailers More



Features More
Twitter icon_twitter Follow