The 5 best films from the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY, Utah — Every January, when we’re all tired of eating the same 10 Oscars, the Sundance Film Festival arrives like a bucket of ice water over one’s head.

The raucous indie festival, set in the bland but wildly expensive ski resort of Park City, Utah, wakes us up and sets the tone for the past year, providing an idea of ​​what’s on the minds of the innovative filmmakers.

Returning in person for the first time since 2020, the 45-year-old pageant had a scandal (Sundance I was affected by the late demands That all films are closed), shocks (Alexander Skarsgård Naked wrestled with his clone) and celebs wearing jackets though as they drive hot from the St. Regis straight to the red carpet.

But what struck me most was that, after a series of unbearably bleak set-ups, there was the radiant optimism that made “CODA” the 2022 Best Picture Oscar winner in the list of 99 feature films. A feel-good festival, for sure.

Here are the five best films from Sundance 2023.

spirits of the past

Greta Lee and Teo Yu play childhood sweethearts in “Past Lives.”
John Buck

The best movie at Sundance of the year, and the movie that has a strong chance of becoming the Oscar nominee we’ve been talking about for the past 12 months, is the wonderful “Past Lives” from writer-director Celine Song. Set over the course of 24 years, the film by studio A24 is about two childhood sweethearts in Seoul, South Korea, who are separated when young Nora’s family moves to Toronto. Fast forward 12 years later and Nora (Greta Lee), a writer in New York, reconnects with old flame Hae Song (Teo Yu) on Skype. I know the setting of “Past Lives” sounds simple, but Song’s writing and Lee and Yoo’s realistic performance will blow you away.


Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin Mackenzie star "Eileen." which premiered at Sundance.
Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin Mackenzie dancing in “Eileen.”
Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival

Became the sultry and mysterious Anne Hathaway in a 1960s Boston prison? Definitely! “Eileen” is an exciting story The film is about a shy 24-year-old secretary, played by Thomasin Mackenzie, whose miserable life is shaken up when the party boss (Hathaway) comes to work at the prison where she works. It’s far from fun, but the movie is tinged with uncertainty. We’re honestly nervous trying to figure out where the William Oldroyd movie, based on the novel by Otessa Moshfegh, is headed. The moment the tense story comes together, you’ll gasp loudly until your upstairs neighbor explodes to the floor.

Go varsity at Mariachi

"Go varsity at Mariachi" It takes viewers inside the fiercely competitive high school mariachi circuit in Texas.
“Going Varsity In Mariachi” takes viewers inside the fiercely competitive high school mariachi circuit in Texas.
Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

My favorite documentaries have taught me something I didn’t know before, live with the same zest and memorable characters as any great drama or comedy. excellentBoys State” at Sundance in 2020 It was one of these movies. The “more I know” in this troubling doc is that Texas has 100 high school teams in mariachi competition—who knew? – Our beloved cast consists of Mariachi Oro from the northern city of Edinburgh led by the brilliant master Abel Acuña.


"extremist," Starring Eugenio Derbez, it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Radical, starring Eugenio Derbez, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Eugenio Derbez, the actor who played the music teacher in “CODA” He hands out inspiring lessons again in “The Radical”. Here, he arrives at a struggling school in Mexico and confuses classmates and children alike with his unorthodox methods: no lesson plans, no tests, and lots of listening. Yes, it sounds a lot like Dead Poets Society or To the Master, With Love, but based on a true story and standing south of the border ups the stakes and brings on the tears.

You hurt my feelings

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is funny "You hurt my feelings."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is hilarious on “You Hurt My Feelings.”
Jeong Park

In a post-Seinfeld iteration of the era, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has struggled to find the right movie role since Veep ended on HBO. The “slope” went down, and her MCU part is Paycheck. But she’s a perfect comedian in “You Hurt My Feelings” as a mediocre author who learns her husband secretly hates her latest book. The sharply observed comedy from writer-director Nicole Holofcener is about lies, big and small, telling our loved ones to get through another day.

And the worst: a cat person

Emilia Jones and Nicholas Browne star "cat person," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
The worst film at the Sundance Film Festival was “Cat Pearson” starring Emilia Jones and Nicholas Brown.
Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

for me Claws were out For this outrageous adaptation of Christine Roupinian’s viral 2017 New Yorker short story, starring Emilia Jones (“CODA”) and Nicholas Brown (“Succession”). What was in the magazine about the horrors of modern dating has been turned into an actual horror movie, with a new, faith-inducing ending. Getting familiar with the title means you’ll likely see it, but I hope the terrible reviews on it cut it in the bud.

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