Some of the best films of Sundance so far:
Agnus Dei: Set in a Polish convent attacked by Russian soldiers at the end of WWII, you know this one won’t be an easy watch. But word has it it’s beautifully acted by a strong female ensemble, including Agata Kulesza, who you may remember from last year’s feel-good drama, Ida.
The Birth of a Nation: The story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion – bound to be powerful, unflinching, and explosive, Fox Searchlight picked it up at this year’s festival for $17.5M, a new Sundance record.
Certain Women: Based on three short stories (by Maile Meloy) that tell tender and character-driven tales around emotional quandaries. Starring Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, and a stunner of a performance from Native American actress Lily Gladstone.
Manchester by the Sea: Another slow-burning character study by director Kenneth Lonergan, this one stars Casey Affleck as a guy struggling to overcome his failures as a husband and father – but the other people in the movie know something about him that we, the audience, do not.
Morris From America: Craig Robinson’s going to surprise us all with this excellent performance as a father losing his grip on his son, a teen struggling to find his place while over in Germany. The script is supposedly charming without being cute and I hope it’ll be a sweet surprise.
Sing Street: John Carney (Once, Begin Again) is up to his old tricks with another intimate musical that some say is his best yet (I LOVE Once, was a bit less enthusiastic about Begin Again). This one’s an ’80s throwback that’s of course full of dizzying romance and super likeable characters that will, let’s face it, probably leave us tender-hearted viewers in tears.
This year’s most divisive title:
Swiss Army Man: Paul Dano is stranded on an island, and instead of a volleyball named Wilson, he “befriends” a farting corpse, played by Daniel Radcliffe, who teaches him about what makes life worth living, and also which body parts might be used to get him back home – heavy subjects for such a weird and wacky movie. Lots of people walked out of this one but reviews are mixed, with some really enjoying this ode to abnormality.