The Five Must-See Flicks from Sundance Film Festival

The Five Must-See Flicks from Sundance Film Festival

Put these films on your radar before next awards season.

Put these films on your radar before next awards season.

Text: Greg Krelenstein

A week out of Park City, my sleep pattern still hasn’t recovered from this year’s Sundance Film Festival. While there was no Call Me By Your Name or The Big Sick to speak of, the festival definitely took its cues from the current landscape with films that were both racially diverse and celebrating strong female characters.  Female pioneers including Jane Fonda, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Joan Jett, M.I.A., and Gloria Allred were celebrated in high-profile documentaries and the Grand Jury Prize winner was directed by a woman, Desiree Akhavan for her film The Miseducation of Cameron Post, starring Chloe Moretz, as a high school teen sent to a gay conversion therapy camp.  Though not one film dominated the conversation, there were several standouts that should be on your radar for the months to come.

Assassination Nation

Assassination Nation redefines the modern teen film — think a woke Spring Breakers or Heathers, biting black comedy with an injection of social commentary. The incredible cast led by Odessa Young and Hari Nef takes the audience on a ride that after the first midnight screening entered the realm of cult classic. Directed by Sam Levinson, the film sold to NEON for the highest price tag of the festival and has the commercial potential to be huge in both your local mall and art house cinema.

Lords of Chaos

Jonas Akerlund’s Lords of Chaos, a true crime tale about the Norwegian black metal band scene is a savage, takes no prisoner in a cinematic explosion that allows the actors to really dig into the blood splattering fun.  With an ensemble cast led by Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, and Sky Ferreira, the movie feels both alive and dangerous. Another chilling performance from Cohen, who, after roles in both The Place Behind the Pines and Brooklyn, has established himself as one of the most exciting and mysterious young actors of his generation.

Skate Kitchen

Skate Kitchen, the follow up to Sundance hit The Wolfpack, from director Crystal Moselle, is a coming-of-age narrative film starring The Skate Kitchen, a celebrated collective of real life skateboarders. Rachelle Vinberg plays the girl from Long Island who finds the group on Instagram and becomes immersed into the Lower East Side skatepark scene. Jaden Smith adds some Hollywood star power within this cast of unknowns, but blends right into the party. Echoes of Larry Clark’s Kids peak in at points, but the subculture the film follows feels very much this moment.

Never Goin' Back

Never Goin’ Back is a comedy starring future stars Maia Mitchell and Cami Morrone that at times plays as a female Dude Where’s My Car. Turning the male buddy comedy on its head, director Augustine Frizell based on the plot on her real life experiences, about two high school dropout stoners trying to make enough money to go on a beach vacation. A great screwball comedy that works, not only because it switches up the gender roles, but due to the two actresses who appear to be having as much fun as the audience.

Madeline's Madeline

Madeline’s Madeline is an experimental indie that Sundance is best known for starring festival veteran Miranda July and newcomer Helena Howard in the title character. Playing the mother of an emotionally unstable daughter, July lets Howard’s character join an immersive theater troupe where she perhaps delves too deep into character. The film feels like a raw nerve about to explode and establishes a fresh new voice of cinema in director Josephine Decker.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Sundance Institute

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