The general consensus at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was that, overall, the films weren’t on par with what we saw last year. And there’s some truth to that, because last year was a special year – with movies like Call Me By Your Name, The Big Sick, and Mudbound, those 2017 Sundance movies are still part of the conversation as we head towards the Oscars. The 2018 fest probably won’t repeat that kind of success.
But! I will say that this year the percentage of movies I liked was much higher. It was a little more hit or miss last year – in that it was either a big hit, or a huge miss. This year, I pretty much enjoyed most of the 16 movies I saw while at the festival, which is rare.
And it’s a festival I’ll never forget – being the first time I’ve gotten out of New York City since my father passed away in November. It was a reflective festival for me – in a way feeling like it was time to try to start rebuilding myself. I actually socialized for the first time in two months and I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. (Well, one night was pretty iffy. A film distributor had a house party that quickly got out of control. We could sense something bad was going to happen and got the heck out of there. By the time we got back to our condo, the police had “busted” the party. I don’t think I’ve used the word “busted” since the ‘90s.) But, anyway, Sundance was something I didn’t think I needed, but I did desperately need and it came along at the right time. And with the needed influx of films this year that speak to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, there weren’t a lot of movies about sad white kids losing a parent – which, thank goodness, because there’s no way I could have sat through one of those right now.
Anyway, here are my five favorite films I saw at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
There’s a full review of The Tale posted, but, again, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. In a film starring Laura Dern, director Jennifer Fox grapples with her own untrustworthy memories in a true story about being sexually abused as a child. This is going to be a big movie, but also a tough sell in some respects. It’s one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen in my life and I could imagine someone watching it, then saying, “Why in the world would you recommend that?” This is probably why The Tale is the quietest buzziest Sundance movie in recent history. But, my gosh, it’s powerful. And the thing to keep in mind is that Jennifer Fox actually had to live through this, all we have to do is listen to what she’s trying to tell us for a couple of hours.