Getting to go to Sundance this year was an incredible experience, the weather was surprisingly not terrible, I had great conversations in line with people, and almost every film of the 20 that I saw was good to great. Some of them will likely stick with me all year and end up on my top 10 of 2015 list. Before we get to my top 5 of Sundance though, I do want to take a moment and give a shout out to some of the films that I hate myself for not seeing.
Films I hate myself for not seeing:
Written and Directed by Robert Eggers
This was the only film at the festival that I wasn’t able to get in through the waitlist. That’s great for the film, but it broke my perfect record and I couldn’t see this film that had the festival going crazy for it. My friend who saw the film sent me a text saying “Two words: Devil. Worship. This is a hella Dylan film”. I hate myself.
Written by Rick Alverson, Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington
Directed by Rick Alverson
I really enjoyed Rick Alverson’s The Comedy, and I’ve been hearing a wide range of reactions to this film. Some have hated it, and some have declared it amazing. This only heightens my interest in it. Throw in a cast that includes John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan and Amy Seimetz and I am there. I hate myself.
Top 5 Films I saw at Sundance 2015
5. Slow West
Written and Directed by John Maclean
The Western has been one of the most interesting genres to watch over the past decade, giving way to the revisionist western. Artists have come forth and delivered their own unique vision of the traditional western and creating classics like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Proposition and Red Hill. This film joins the ranks of those films, with John Maclean delivering a tense, artful and thoughtful vision of the American west with a talented cast including Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn. Review here.
4. Turbo Kid
Written and Directed by Yoann-Karl Whissell, Anouk Whissell and François Simard
I initially wasn’t planning on seeing this at the festival, but then they released a 30 second trailer for it. I dropped everything. This was now a must see for me. I took an hour bus ride up to Park City just to catch a screening of it, and it was totally worth it. Turbo Kid was an absolute blast, built with the spirit of an exciting childlike imagination through a hard-R rated lens. Review here.
3. It Follows
Written and Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Granted, I haven’t seen The Witch, but I still stand by my statement that this film is the early frontrunner for best Horror film of 2015. The entire audience was terrified during the whole runtime of this film. I honestly can’t stress enough how truly terrifying this film is to watch in a theater. Screams were earned, and David Robert Mitchell knew how to expertly squeeze every bit of terror and tension out of his ingenious premise. Review here.
2. Me & Earl & the Dying Girl
Written by Jesse Andrews
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
A lot of times when a film gets as hyped up as this one does, it’s easy to walk out of the film disappointed. This was not one of those times. Instead everyone who walked out of that theater was crying and holding each other. There was a full-grown man with a biker’s beard next to me sobbing, and I almost leaned over to hold him. That’s what kind of film this is. Believe the hype on this film, and bring your tissues. Review here.
1. Cop Car
Written by Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford
Directed by Jon Watts
As the festival went on, this was the film that ended up growing on me the most. There was something that lingered in me regarding the overall spirit of the film. Watching the two young protagonists navigate their perilous adventure, I very much saw myself having been them once. I grew up in a similar feeling area as the film’s setting, and found myself having the same conversations and adventures that these two had with my friends. I have a great affinity for the type of independent Americana genre film like this, coming in the long line of favorites like Blue Ruin, Cold in July, Shotgun Stories and Blood Simple. Review here.