Cannes 2024 Finale – The 8 Best Films to Watch Out For From the Fest | FirstShowing.net

Cannes 2024 Finale – The 8 Best Films to Watch Out For From the Fest

by Alex Billington
June 4, 2024

What are the best films out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival? Which ones should you be taking an interest in? What films should be a priority for you to see? After diving into cinema for 12 days at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, after watching a total of 40 films, it’s time to present my 2024 list of my Top 8 Favorites. This was my 14th year back to this festival (I also handed out 4 signed books), and I still love being there right in the middle of all the buzz and excitement, watching new cinema every single day. As I usually say – there’s always more to see, always more to take our breath away. These eight favorites listed below are the ones that connected with me emotionally or intellectually, and I hope you’ll consider watching a few when they arrive in your neighborhood. They are worth the wait – each one distinct and memorable. It might have been another lackluster Cannes overall, for the most part, though I am happy I caught a few bangers by the end. This is my very final recap of Cannes 2024 – don’t skip a chance to watch any of these with an audience.

My goal at film festivals nowadays is to watch, watch, watch and keep watching as much as possible. I don’t want to miss anything that might be good, and I prefer to get a look at anything just to see what each one is about. The Cannes 2024 line-up looked promising at the start, but ended up one of their most unimpressive selections in a long time. Even though I also said that 2023 was a “weaker year”, the all-timers from last year stand out even more than these 8 favorites below. I do not care for Caught by the Tides, Rumours is mediocre, The Shrouds is overrated, Parthenope is a disaster, Motel Destino is terrible, Beating Hearts is trash (here’s my review). Many other films I saw were instantly forgettable – I don’t know whether to blame the filmmakers, or the festival for programming all these films. I missed a few that others are raving about, including Viet and Nam and An Unfinished Film. There’s never enough time to see everything, and it’s hard enough to watch films over 12 days and still work on the site, too. I’m always relieved I could see this many.

I won’t delay any further with my Top 8 films of Cannes 2024, as these are the films that I loved the most, or left the greatest impact on me, and they all deserve to gain recognition outside of France. My favorites:

Anora – Directed by Sean Baker

Cannes - Sean Baker's Anora

The best film of the fest actually won the Palme d’Or this year! Huzzah! 🍾 Congrats to Sean Baker and the entire cast & crew of Anora. This film is going to become an instant classic, beloved favorite of many once it drops in theaters later this year. It absolutely deserves to win the Palme! I loved this film! Easily the best film of the entire 2024 Cannes Film Festival line-up, impressive in every single sense – from the filmmaking to the cinematography to all the performances to the story itself. I could rewatch this right away, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again. Anora is funnier than expected, making me laugh more than almost any other film this year so far. While also still remaining an intelligent, layered, authentic, clever, riveting story about a melange of people getting into trouble in New York City. Mikey Madison is unforgettable as Ani, aka Anora, with a perfect Brooklyn accent. But the best part of this film is Yura Borisov as Igor, who you’ll discover when you watch the film (he was also in the excellent Cannes 2021 film Compartment Number 6).

Black Dog – Directed by Hu Guan

Cannes - Hu Guan's Black Dog

Of course I love a dog movie! But this one is really something special. Black Dog is one of two major dog movies at Cannes this year – the other one is the Swiss comedy Dog on Trial (my review here). Co-written & directed by filmmaker Hu GuanBlack Dog stars celebrated Chinese actor Eddie Peng as Lang, a man who returns to his dusty, aging, industrial hometown after being released from prison. The town is overrun with stray dogs after everyone moved away to find more work, and he befriends one smart, funny, skinny black dog that lives on its own. His friendship with the doggie (and all of the animals around town) changes him and the entire town in the process. Not only is it a magnificent film about dogs, Peng actually adopted a few of the dogs from the film after the shoot. And the film took great care to treat every animal with respect, including a title card at the end about how they handled them and never mistreated any of them on the set.

The Girl with the Needle – Directed by Magnus von Horn

Cannes - Magnus von Horn's The Girl with the Needle

Another controversial pick from the Cannes line-up (some of my friends did not like this film, while others loved it). This film screened on the second day of the festival, one of the very first films to premiere. It’s an especially unsettling, almost gothic horror tale of a young woman living in a very dirty Copenhagen in the early 1900s. Vic Carmen Sonne stars in the brave lead role as Karoline, a poor, working-class woman who ends up getting pregnant while her husband is missing in The Great War. That’s just the start of her story as she tries to survive and make a living while struggling with her pregnancy, then she meets an older woman named Dagmar (played by Trine Dyrholm) who helps find new homes for unwanted babies. Aside from striking cinematography by Polish DP Michal Dymek, and the dark, disturbing screenplay that has some seriously unexpected twists & turns, the best part of this film is the score. Created by musician Frederikke Hoffmeier (aka by her stage name Puce Mary), this atmospheric, moody, actually freaky score has never left my mind. It stayed with me throughout the entire fest which is no easy feat while viewing so many films.

Emilia Pérez – Directed by Jacques Audiard

Cannes - Jacques Audiard's Emilia Pérez

This movie became the “you either love it or hate it” of Cannes 2024. And yep, I love it! I think it’s ambitious and bold and entertaining and something we’ve never seen before. The whole concept is a great example of “wait, what?!?!” Can he actually pull this off. Yes he can!! I’ve been a huge fan of French filmmaker Jacques Audiard ever since I first started attending Cannes and fell in love with A Prophet in 2009. Emilia Pérez is a totally unbelievable creation – a full-on musical about a Mexican cartel kingpin who transitions from man to woman to become “Emilia Pérez”, her true identity, while hiding from his past. All this happens in the first half, then the movie becomes a story about how she tries to reconcile with her violent past and all she did, and whether or not she can change anything in Mexico. Zoe Saldana also co-stars in a fierce role as her lawyer / friend Rita Moro Castro, who joins the cause in trying to make a difference while also getting caught up in her past as well. Spanish trans actress Karla Sofía Gascón won the Best Actress award, and deserves the acclaim for this challenging role. I’m a big fan of this one – I think Audiard really did pull it off.

The Substance – Directed by Coralie Fargeat

Cannes - Coralie Fargeat's The Substance

Brutal! Shocking! Gross! Loud! This is THE horror movie of the festival! Everyone was raving about it! The audience loved it and went wild at the end! It was one of the best screenings of the festival! Even if The Substance doesn’t have universal praise from everyone who saw it (some don’t like it at all), it is still one of Cannes 2024’s big breakouts that will have an impact on cinema once it hits theaters. Guaranteed. It’s a tad too long at 2 hours & 20 minutes, but the bat-shit, is-this-really-happening finale is worth the wait. Plus it’s exciting watching Demi Moore rock this lead role as “Elizabeth Sparkle”, taking her down weird alleys to places I wound never expect. Before the fest began, I had a feeling Coralie Fargeat would be the talk of the fest that’s pretty much what happened – rightfully so with such a gnarly, gory, spectacular body horror film. I had such a great time watching & talking about this one, it’s this year’s Titane (even though it didn’t win the Palme like that one), and proves that Fargeat is going to have a strong and illustrious career in film.

The Seed of the Sacred Fig – Directed by Mohammad Rasoulof

Cannes - Mohammad Rasoulof's The Seed of the Sacred Fig

Essential cinema! This nearly 3-hour Iranian film from award-winning filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof screened on the second to last day of the film festival, arriving just at the last minute to win us over. I was impressed and moved by most of it – a powerful film about Iranian society’s current descent into madness. The story of a family living in Tehran that begins to fall apart. Iman, played by Missagh Zareh, is a loving father of a family of Iranian women living in a very nice apartment – his wife is Najmeh, played by Soheila Golestani, and they have two teenage daughters named Rezvan and Sana, played by Mahsa Rostami and Setareh Maleki, respectively. All four of these performances are exceptionally strong, building this film into a powerful treatise on how paranoia and fear bring about madness. The film’s title, The Seed of the Sacred Fig, seems obscure though it’s actually connected to the many themes within the film and the story of what’s happening with Iran right now – with a healthy nation being strangled by fanaticism and dogma.

Eephus – Directed by Carson Lund

Cannes - Carson Lund's Eephus

Who would’ve thought that a baseball movie from America would end up being one of my favorite films from the 2024 Cannes Film Festival this year? I am so glad I took the chance to watch and discover and enjoy this clever comedy about old timers playing a game of baseball. Eephus premiered in Directors’ Fortnight (aka Quinzaine des Cinéastes) sidebar, marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Carson Lund. It’s a remarkable debut, boasting a super smart script full of wise cracks, jokes, and baseball lingo aplenty that will probably go over the heads of anyone who doesn’t already know the game by heart. The cinematography is my favorite part about it, shot by DP Greg Tango, with perfectly composed shots focusing more on close-ups & various players than wide shots of the actual game. It’s a compelling film about dudes getting older, with their time fading away; yet it’s also a baseball movie, unlike any I’ve seen before. I thoroughly enjoyed it, laughed my ass off. Hopefully ends up becoming an indie hit whenever it opens in theaters later this year.

Flow – Directed by Gints Zilbalodis

Cannes - Gints Zilbalodis' Flow

The most adorable and heartwarming film of Cannes 2024! What a wonderful surprise. Another animated stand out from Cannes, similar to Robot Dreams last year. After making his feature directorial debut with Away in 2019, Latvian animation filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis spent five years working on his next feature called Flow. It’s the story of a black cat and his group of friends stuck together on a boat. The dialogue-free story is a beautifully animated tale of animals trying to survive in a magnificent world that is being flooded. As the water gets higher and higher, they journey onward deeper into their realm and meet other animals good and bad. The score by Rihards Zalupe & Gints Zilbalodis, along with the stunning animation work in harmony with this mesmerizing story of companionship. It may be hard to convince anyone else to sit and watch this, but I will do my best as it truly is a rewarding animated tale worthy of the big screen experience.

A few other films from the festival I want to mention even though they didn’t make the list. First, I need to mention The Surfer, the new film from director Lorcan Finnegan (of Vivarium) starring Nicolas Cage as a dude who confronts some suffer assholes on an Australian beach. I was considering including it on the list above, but it barely didn’t make the cut – though I still keep thinking about it. Not only Cage’s character, but the whole concept and commentary baked into it. I also think Andrea Arnold’s new film Bird is quite good, with powerful performances by Barry Keoghan & Franz Rogowski; however it’s not strong as I hoped and compared to these others it didn’t end up as one of my faves. I also enjoyed the stop-motion animated film Savages (aka Sauvages) from Swiss filmmaker Claude Barras, an endearing & touching tale of some kids who rescue a baby orangutan on the island of Borneo. I also enjoyed the Indian film All We Imagine As Light, it’s a tender and touching story, but I don’t believe it should’ve won the Palme d’Or. And I have to shout-out the kooky, weird French comedy Plastic Guns for being so menacingly hilarious in its absurdity.

And that’s it for Cannes 2024, ending our coverage of this film festival. Sean Baker’s film Anora ended up winning the Palme d’Or prize this year – find the full list of 2024 awards winners here. My coverage wraps up with this list of favorites and all my other reviews from the fest. I’m always looking forward to returning to Cannes again, it’s one of my favorite fests and I always enjoy going back hoping to discover masterpieces.

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The Top 10 Godzilla Team-Ups – Jet Jaguar, Rodan, Mothra & More | FirstShowing.net

The Top 10 Godzilla Team-Ups – Jet Jaguar, Rodan, Mothra & More

by Aaron Neuwirth
March 28, 2024

While he is the irrefutable “King of the Monsters“, Godzilla has recently found himself in the spotlight quite a bit. Between Apple’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters series (streaming now), the Oscar-winning hit Godzilla: Minus One, and the upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, kaiju fans have had a lot of time to spend marveling in awe of Big G. With that in mind, this upcoming Legendary Pictures movie will presumably be featuring Godzilla partnering up with his previous rival, Kong. Sure, Godzilla has often found himself taking on other giant monsters on his own, or being a party to the destruction of major cities because he (or she) actually just wants to lay some eggs or topple towns because he’s a real mean bastard. However, when the going gets tough, Godzilla sometimes finds himself in a spot where it’s more beneficial for him to have a teammate handy to stop various three-headed dragons, giant cyborg claw beasts, robotic versions of himself, etc. Below is my list of Godzilla’s Best Team-Ups in the franchise’s 70-year history.

For more – read my rundown Stomping Through Godzilla History: Where to Begin & What to Watch.

10. Father and Son – Godzilla and Minilla
Godzilla and Minilla

Godzilla’s children had to make this list because when it comes down to it – they step in when needed. I feel like kids don’t really need an awkward-looking little monster to bring further appeal to an increasingly kid-friendly monster series, but that’s another story. Minilla is introduced in 1967’s Son of Godzilla and later returns in Destroy All Monsters (1968), All Monsters Attack (1969), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Born prematurely thanks to interference from Kamacuras (giant mantises), Minilla is trained by Godzilla to protect himself from other giant bugs. With no atomic breath like his pops, Minilla blows smoke loops, which are not a ton of help. All that said, he does get in his shots during a throwdown against King Ghidorah (it’s a long story) AND helps a latchkey kid stand up to bullies (that’s an even longer story). Not everyone’s favorite, and certainly not a looker, but as a part of the lighter side of things, Minilla is a well-meaning ally.

9. Father & Son Again… – Godzilla and Godzilla Jr.
Godzilla and Godzilla Jr.

First introduced as an egg in 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Godzilla’s other child (first known as Baby Godzilla) had quite the epic arc during the Heisei era. Having imprinted itself onto a biologist before birth, Godzilla Junior (then “Little Godzilla”) would go on to interact with the G-Force member through a psychic bond in the movie Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994). In the final Heisei Era film, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), Junior is grown enough to be a very capable fighter against one of Godzilla’s biggest threats. However, Junior is killed at one point during the battle, only to be revived by the movie’s end as an adult taking over the family business. With more of a dinosaur-like look as it grows up, Junior felt more like the Dick Grayson / Tim Drake to Minilla’s Damian Wayne and certainly gave its all when a true villain was looking to take down the King. I don’t really know where Godzilla Junior would be now through the Heisei timeline as a full-size Godzilla replacement. Still, I’m sure it’s living up to its elder’s legacy.

8. RoboFriend – Godzilla and M.O.G.U.E.R.A.
Godzilla and M.O.G.U.E.R.A.

While Moguera (aka M.O.G.U.E.R.A.) first appeared way back in 1957’s The Mysterians film (directed by Godzilla’s own Ishirō Honda), the robot kaiju (operated by multiple pilots) would ultimately enter Godzilla’s universe in Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994), helping Big G take on the crystal-enhanced beast (see the gif above). However, even with the ability to split into two parts (Land Moguera and Star Falcon), it would eventually be defeated. Sure, this thing is fast & armed to the teeth, but weak armor is never helpful against an alien clone from outer space. Still, Moguera does end up destroying SpaceGodzilla’s main power source, allowing Godzilla to finish him off. Even with death on the line, teamwork can make the dream work.

7. Lion in the Toho – Godzilla and King Caesar
Godzilla and King Caesar

A guardian deity modeled after Japan’s stone lion statues, when you really look at it, King Caesar is pretty cool and a stand-up ally. For one, this is one of the few characters Godzilla doesn’t have any beef with from the start. True to life, this giant cat gets involved once it is woken up and deems a situation worth dealing with. In this case, we’re talking fighting Mechagodzilla in 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Granted, King Caesar is sadly not one of the stronger kaiju to team up with Godzilla, being beaten by Mechagodzilla on its own and then having Big G do most of the work while battling the alien robot together. Nonetheless, as a creature recruited to keep humans safe, the lack of drama between them goes a long way – long enough for him to let King Caesar live during its mind-controlled reappearance in 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars.

6. The Two Kings – Godzilla and Kong
Godzilla and Kong

Here’s the thing with these two – they don’t see eye to eye, and they both see themselves as the best. While plenty of other adversaries are merely challengers to the throne, this IS the “King of the Monsters” vs “King Kong”. With that in mind, their time spent working together is minimal so far. While Godzilla x Kong implies the two will have to team up (no spoilers from me right now), 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla was all about the two fighting each other. 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong movie spent most of the time letting the two alphas battle it out (with Godzilla ultimately winning, natch). The real enemy of the film, however, was revealed to be a secret weapon developed by the Apex company, which, as it turned out, was Mechagodzilla (telepathically controlled by Apex’s chief technology officer using a dismembered skull from Ghidorah… it’s a whole thing). When Mechagodzilla started running wild (breaking free of its controller, because of course it did), Godzilla and Kong needed to work together to stop it. As it turns out, the two champions made for a natural pair, complete with combo moves, weapon assists, and more.

5. King and Queen Combine – Godzilla and Mothra
Godzilla and Mothra

Perhaps this is controversial, but Mothra is ultimately more of a peacekeeper than a true ally. Therefore, I see other team-ups as more worthy when considering the role the Queen of the Monsters has played in this series. Granted, it’s not for lack of appearances. Mothra has shown up a lot in Godzilla’s history (and even had her own Rebirth trilogy, along with starring in her own movie to begin with). As far as when Mothra has made her efforts to protect humanity by actually assisting Godzilla, 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster found the giant butterfly actually talking Godzilla and Rodan into taking on the colossal dragon (more on that soon). In later entries, she also works with Godzilla to help him battle an upgraded Gigan and Monster X (aka Keizer Ghidorah – yup!) from Toho in Godzilla: Final Wars. In the MonsterVerse, in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Mothra practically seems like an old girlfriend who decides to lend a hand to Godzilla during a battle with King Ghidorah and Rodan, sacrificing herself in the process (although Mothra does have a long history of being reborn in some way, so who knows if this is permanent).

4. Best Sidekick Ever – Godzilla and Anguirus
Godzilla and Anguirus

With a similar origin to Godzilla and a more diminutive stature than most other kaiju, Anguirus is more of a sidekick than a friend, but a good one. Think of him as the Robin to Godzilla’s Batman (yes, a second Caped Crusader reference for this article, but bear with me). While the two first battled it out in 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again (Godzilla’s first rival for the series), they quickly teamed up in multiple Showa Era films, including Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). The latter would make for their most impressive adventure together, as they had quite the selection of opponents to take on. After talking it out (because Godzilla and Anguirus actually talk to each other in this one) and a little reconnaissance, the two take on Gigan and King Ghidorah together in a brutal battle that leads to a lot of bloodshed (it’s a pretty gory Godzilla movie) but ultimately a victory. The film practically predates Jaws having us watch Godzilla and Anguirus swim back to Monster Island together, having triumphed over their monstrous adversaries.

3. A Friend Forged in Fire – Godzilla and Rodan
Godzilla and Rodan

Like Mothra, Rodan also got his start in his own movie before going to the Godzilla-Verse. However, there’s a critical difference between the Queen and him that I’ve tried to make very clear over the years – Rodan is a dick. He relishes causing destruction and wears a smile while doing it. That’s never been more evident than in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, with his finest solo showcase action scene to date. However, Rodan and Godzilla did make for good friends. Initially enemies (as usual when it comes to Godzilla’s desire for dominance), Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) found the two working together after some coaxing by Mothra. This carried over to 1965’s Invasion of Astro-Monster, which had them taking on King Ghidorah once again after Earth was duped into letting the Xiliens from Planet X “borrow” them to fight this battle in exchange for the cure for cancer (this ended up being an elaborate ruse). Even more notable are the events that occurred during the Heisei Era. In 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, not only did Rodan essentially take a bullet for Baby Godzilla, but while dying, he would go on to let his life force regenerate Big G to help him get supercharged to take down the Super-Mechagodzilla. What a pal.

2. Get Me Everyone! – Godzilla and All of Monster Island
Godzilla and All of Monster Island

Before Marvel’s The Avengers, Toho gave us Destroy All Monsters, which put together an all-star roster of kaiju battling against King Ghidorah (firmly establishing the three-headed creature as Godzilla’s primary nemesis). In this film, following a whole section of the narrative where all the monsters are being mind-controlled by the Kilaaks (this series loves its alien names), a major showdown occurs on Monsterland (the Japanese island that has been converted into a confinement area where the monsters can be contained and researched). This is where Ghidorah must go up against Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, and Gorosaurus, along with some support from Minilla, Kumonga, and Mothra in larval form. Baragon, Varan, and Manda are also present but aren’t really needed for this incredible kaiju brawl. Now, granted, the odds were pretty stacked against Ghidorah at this point (not that he’d care, as he’s one cocky bastard). Still, as far as team-ups go, Godzilla had plenty of reason to put in the order for team jerseys after this one.

1. Instant Besties – Godzilla and Jet Jaguar
Godzilla and Jet Jaguar

🎵 Godzilla and Jaguar, they punch, punch, punch! They are the friends of justice! 🎵 Yes, Jet Jaguar may just be a kid-friendly creation by Toho to capitalize on the popularity of Ultraman at a rival studio, but this colorful robot is also 100% awesome. Only ever appearing in 1973’s Godzilla vs. Megalon movie, this friendly human-sized machine initially served as a companion to two scientists and a young boy, only to realize he would need help stopping a threat to Earth. With the arrival of Megalon and Gigan, Jet Jaguar gained sentience and grew to giant kaiju size so he could take on the others. And that’s not all! Jet Jaguar then decided to recruit Godzilla and form an alliance (literally shaking hands to seal the deal – see image above). Were Gigan and Megalon ready for this major bout of double trouble? No, no they weren’t. Cut to the duo stomping all over the villains, with the well-known epic finishing move of Jet Jaguar holding down Megalon while Godzilla lays out an impossible drop kick on the giant beetle. This instant friendship is a joy to see take place, and it’s a shame Jet Jaguar hasn’t returned since.

B-b-b-bonus! – Mothra, King Ghidorah & Baragon against Godzilla
Mothra, King Ghidorah & Baragon Against Godzilla

One more for the road, as 2001’s Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack has a unique set of allies worth mentioning. Part of the Millennium Era, basically an extended anthology series, this film functions as a direct sequel to Godzilla (1954), making Godzilla the villain against everything and everyone. In an exciting twist, Mothra, Baragon, and King Ghidorah (I know, right?) are now Guardian Monsters who must be awakened to stop Godzilla from destroying Japan. It’s not an easy battle for these monsters, with King Ghidorah ultimately getting a lift from Mothra’s sacrifice play (her standard move) to, at the very least, damage Godzilla enough for humans to take advantage of the situation and stop the devastation. A wild approach in one of the most memorable Godzilla films from early in the 21st century.

How will things turn out in terms of team-ups in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire? We’ll find out soon, as the film opens in theaters March 29th, 2024. Are Godzilla and Kong really going to be working together? More importantly, will this be a lasting friendship? One thing’s for sure: Godzilla may be King, but he does have a history of taking on an ally or two at a given moment. Perhaps it could lead to something more long-term. After all, who doesn’t need a hand when it’s time to, I don’t know, move a large refrigerator, or have a partner for monster pickleball? Anyway, a new Godzilla movie is opening soon. As always – let them fight.

Follow Aaron Neuwirth on Twitter + ask him anything about Godzilla movies – @AaronsPS4

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Sundance 2024: Best of the Fest – 10 Favorites from the Mountains | FirstShowing.net

Sundance 2024: Best of the Fest – 10 Favorites from the Mountains

by Alex Billington
February 5, 2024

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival has wrapped up after another invigorating 10-day in-person event held up in the Utah mountains, along with an online counterpart during only the second half. Now it’s time to present our annual Best of the Fest list from the 2024 selection. I was able to catch a total of 51 films this year (my full list on Letterboxd), half of them at screenings in Park City & SLC, the other half virtual screenings. This is my 18th year covering Sundance, and this fest still has a special place in my heart. It was so nice to be back again. I am presenting one big list of my 10 favorite films – a mix of a few documentaries and narrative features. All 10 of these below are worth watching, and I highly recommend seeing them on the big screen whenever it’s possible. Watching all of these with an audience really makes a difference. I also recorded a podcast talking about many of the Sundance films (good and bad). Below are my favorites, the films that connected with me the most and have remained on my mind all the way up to the end of the fest.

It’s always my priority while at Sundance to go see as many films as I can. Even if I don’t love every film I watch, I’m just curious to see what makes each of them so unique. Some other films that I missed and still need to catch up with: Love Lies Bleeding, Ponyboi, Girls Will Be Girls, Reinas, Frida, In a Violent Nature, Handling the Undead, and Winner. This fest always programs some of the most innovative and interesting films ready to watch each year. I appreciate how much they try to focus on the most creative work by new filmmakers. I also encourage all movie lovers to make time for documentaries – don’t ignore them, they’re all too often lost in the mix. They deserve to be seen, too! There’s a few I’ve added to my picks below, but I also recommend: Gaucho Gaucho, Devo, Luther: Never Too Much, As We Speak, Daughters, Never Look Away, and Union. I’m always grateful to Sundance for letting me attend the festival with a press badge and grab tickets to the public screenings, it’s an exciting time that makes me happy every year. Glad to be back…

While I saw many films that I enjoyed (my full list of 51 here), there are always some I missed even though I heard good things about them. But these are my favorite films from this year’s fest from those that I did see.

Alex’s Top 10 Favorite ~Sundance 2024~ Films:

The Outrun
The Outrun
Directed by Nora Fingscheidt

Saoirse Ronan – still making my heart flutter. Still delivering phenomenal performances. The Outrun was my last film of the festival and it ended up being my favorite of the festival. All I want to do is talk about how this film is the epitome of what cinema can and should be. The way it utilizes precise sound design as part of the plot, the way the editing represents her scattered, fragile mind; the way the cinematography is a part of the healing process; the way Ronan’s performance must be everything all at once, yet still feel like there’s an arc to it. She must grow by the end, yet we can only understand that growth by understanding more about her, and we can come to understand her through this editing that can seem a bit overwhelming at times. But there’s a point to it. What German filmmaker Nora Fingscheidt pulls off is breathtaking – all aspects of filmmaking playing in harmony to tell a riveting, exhilarating, touching story of a woman growing up and trying to let go of the addictions that have given her comfort but kept her restrained most of her life.

It’s What’s Inside
It's What's Inside
Directed by Greg Jardin

THIS FILM!! Blew me away. It’s one of the best sci-fi / horror / genre creations in a long time. Featuring an ingenious concept, near perfectly executed, along with a fun cast of newcomers all doing their best playing multiple roles. I can’t say what happens or what the trick is, I won’t even say “what’s inside” the suitcase, there’s nothing more I want to discuss regarding the plot. You just HAVE to wait and see for yourself. Don’t ruin the experience! Don’t read anything more about it! The only thing I can talk about here is how amazing the world premiere screening experience was. The audience went wild! Everyone was losing it! This is what great cinema is all about. These are the kind of moments I live for at festivals. I’m still thinking back to that night at Sundance, all of us sitting down about to see a film shot in secret that no one knew anything about. What would it be? THIS kick ass sneaky, tricky mystery thriller that instantly earned its place in Midnight film history. Whenever you see this, bring as many friends as you can over for an unforgettably good time.

Dìdi (弟弟)
Dìdi
Directed by Sean Wang

Another Sundance coming-of-age classic. Another film I can say I thoroughly loved from start to finish. And it’s also the big moment when filmmaker Sean Wang confirms he is a totally kick ass new filmmaker who is about to go on to have an extraordinary career. Before that happens, though, it is absolutely worth taking the time to watch and enjoy Didi. It may be “yet another coming-of-age” film but it’s filtered through Sean Wang’s lens and thus becomes something unique in the pantheon of great cinema. I loved watching Izaac Wang’s performance as Chris Wang, though everyone in the cast is memorable. I admit I’m a sucker for good coming-of-age stories (especially from Sundance) and this one really hit the spot. Though beyond my personal bias, it’s nonetheless still an exceptionally well-made film that not only nails the performances, the humor, and the honest emotions, it’s also is an amusing time capsule back to the days of AIM and MySpace.

Will & Harper
Will & Harper
Directed by Josh Greenbaum

A wonderful documentary film that has the potential to change the world. This received the biggest standing ovation out of any film that I saw at Sundance this year, and I’m always moved being in the audience during these genuine moments at the film’s premiere. Will & Harper is the story of Will Ferrell and his good friend Harper as the embark upon a road trip driving across America. The film is a watershed moment for the trans community, as Will tells the story of how his friend of 27 years – a comedy writer from “SNL” – revealed that she was a trans woman just a few years ago. Filled with questions and a bit of uncertainty, Will decided to ask her if she would join him on a drive around America, so that they could catch up, he could ask his dumb questions, and learn about what life is like for her now. They also got a filmmaker, director Josh Greenbaum, to join them. And away they went – topped off with a great soundtrack of road trip songs, this is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever encountered about buddies and life and everything else inbetween.

Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story
Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story
Directed by Ian Bonhôte & Peter Ettedgui

Another documentary that left me a mess after watching it – I was wiping away tears almost the entire time. This one is so moving because it’s not just a story about a great actor, it’s a story about a family man, about someone who was extraordinarily brave – about a real hero. Everyone knows about Christopher Reeve, what happened to him, and how he spent half of his life in a motorized wheelchair after ending up paralyzed from an accident while riding a horse. This beautiful documentary doesn’t try to build this up, it opens with this moment – the rest of the film is spent exploring his life before & after, his two great loves, his incredibly lovely family, and everything else he accomplished in his life. It’s a wholesome, uplifting, encouraging story about tenacity and strength, about perseverance and generosity. I’ve been thinking about it almost every day since watching, because it had such a strong emotional impact on me and everyone else who saw it during Sundance. Don’t miss this one whenever it gets released, a must watch doc about a hero on and off screen.

Kneecap
Kneecap
Directed by Rich Peppiatt

An Irish rap musical comedy! F*&k yes! This knocked me out and then lifted me right back up for another round. What a blast! While it may not be as good as what Sundance regular John Carney creates, it’s pretty close, with as much style and substance and great music. Writer / director Rich Peppiatt proves he’s got a knack for energetic, stylized, localized filmmaking that seriously kicks ass. I laughed so much watching the music teacher guy fall in with these youngsters and become a part of their hip hop group as “DJ Próvaí“, rolling right into their reckless ways and realizing the best way to express himself as an Irishman is loud and proud. The most unique and impressive part about this film is how it acts as a love letter to Ireland and the Irish / Gaelic language, shamelessly defending it and fiercely proclaiming it is something to be proud of and feature. Maybe even some people who don’t care for musicals will still enjoy watching this one. It’s possible.

A Real Pain
A Real Pain
Directed by Jesse Eisenberg

One of the most endearing & thoughtful discoveries of Sundance 2024 is the film A Real Pain, the second feature written and directed by Jesse Eisenberg (following his directorial debut When You Finish Saving the World from Sundance 2022). Perhaps one key reason why this film is particularly good is that it’s a very personal film for Eisenberg – he has Polish roots and the film is about two cousins who reconnect on a tour in Poland starting from Warsaw. They eventually try to find their grandmother’s old house in a small town in Poland, and Eisenberg revealed during a Q&A during the festival that this is actually the very real house this his own grandmother used to live in, too. The two lead performances in the film, featuring Kieran Culkin as Benji Kaplan and Eisenberg as David Kaplan, are two of the most memorable and impressive of any at Sundance this year. As much as I enjoyed watching this film, its power is in how it remains on your mind well after viewing – I kept thinking about it over & over, always wanting to talk about it with others.

Sasquatch Sunset
Sasquatch Sunset
Directed by David Zellner & Nathan Zellner

This absurdly bizarre, utterly hilarious, one-of-a-kind nature documentary is unquestionably a highlight of the festival. Sitting in the big Eccles Theater venue with 1000+ people watching this play out goes right up there with some of my all-time favorite Sundance experiences. The latest creation of the Zellner Brothers, Sasquatch Sunset is a dialogue free story of a Sasquatch (aka “Big Foot”) family, following them as the roam around, forage, sleep, eat, crap, fight, and get into trouble with other animals in the forest. It’s as crazy and as wild and as funny as it sounds, though of course it won’t be for everyone… I already got into arguments about it during the festival, which actually only made me love the film even more. The Zellners’ commitment to making this as realistic and as believable as possible, including shooting in real forests with full-on, hand-made, hairy Sasquatch suits, is part of its brilliance. Hiring actual actors including Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, and Christophe Zajac-Denek to play the main roles is also what makes it amazing. This film is another example of how hysterically bonkers cinema can be when you let filmmakers do whatever they want.

Thelma
Thelma
Directed by Josh Margolin

June Squibb is the best!! Thelma ended up being one of the most popular and beloved Sundance 2024 hits – deservingly so because it’s wonderfully wholesome and amusing. Step aside Tom Cruise, 93-year-old actor June Squibb is the new Ethan Hunt in this heartfelt story of an old-timer getting back at scammers. When she gets caught up in one of these tricky phone scams and loses all her money, she teams up with her friend Ben (played by the late Richard Roundtree in a fantastic supporting role) to find them and take them down. Even though it takes some time because she’s rather old and slow and doesn’t know how to work a computer or much else anymore. Not only is the screenplay perfectly enjoyable and so delightful, there are filmmaking flourishes that give this adventure comedy a serious edge. Even if it’s not as innovative as some of the other films at Sundance, all that matters is it’s still a good film that will leave you smiling by the end.

Presence
Presence
Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh! He’s still got it! The more I think back over the festival and which films really stood out, this one continues to stay on my mind. Presence is Steven Soderbergh’s version of the Sundance 2017 favorite A Ghost Story. It’s told entirely from the POV of a mysterious ghost haunting a house who is trying to tell the new residents something, though that’s hard when you can’t say anything or even be seen by anyone. It’s eerie and chilling, with a few incredible tense moments, though it’s not that scary and that’s not a bad thing. It’s still as compelling to watch even if the ghost isn’t some evil monster that wants to kill everyone. Lucy Liu leads the cast, though the best performances are from the actors playing her two kids in this: Callina Liang and Eddy Maday. Yet another Sundance film from this year that is best experienced if you know nothing about it going in, saving the reveals and everything else for that moment when you begin watching. The most chilling part of this film is not knowing where it’s going next or what will happen to the characters.

I also recorded a podcast chat about Sundance films with Aaron Neuwirth on his Out Now Podcast – listen to that episode here. And check out my other favorite films list on my Letterboxd page. Thanks for following.

For other Sundance 2024 best of the fest lists mentioning more films we didn’t see or didn’t include here, check out these other websites: The Verge’s AI afterlife, robot romance, and slow-burn slashers: the best of Sundance 2024, Harpers Bazaar’s 16 Must-See Movies Out of Sundance Film Festival 2024, THR’s 15 Best Films of Sundance 2024, NPR’s 14 New Films to Look Forward To, Rolling Stone’s 10 Best Movies From the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, and Vulture’s 15 Best Movies We Saw This Year at Sundance. Our list isn’t the only list of favorites from Sundance! There are many other great films from this year that deserve your time & attention whenever they show up in your neighborhood. Keep an eye out for any/all of the films. I always recommend watching any film from the Sundance line-up if it sounds interesting to you, and many of these will likely show up at other festivals before playing in art house theaters. Make time for as many as you can.

You can find all our Sundance 2024 coverage and reviews in this category. This wraps up our coverage of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, our 18th year in a row at this festival. We’ll be back again next year. You can also find more thoughts on many films posted on my Letterboxd. Another year of many fantastic films.

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Films at Sundance 2024 – Cinema in the Snow | FirstShowing.net

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films at Sundance 2024 – Cinema in the Snow

by Alex Billington
January 16, 2024
Source: Sundance.org

It’s January again, which means it’s time for yet another Sundance Film Festival. The 2024 festival is about to kick off in a few days, and FS is back in Utah, ready to start watching. Ready to dive into the enthralling line-up of new films this year. This is the 18th time we have covered Sundance, ever since 2007, bringing attention to good films and the festival experience. I am always looking forward to wading through all the good films the fest. Packing in as many as I can catch. Out of the 90+ films showing at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, I’ve picked 10 films that I’m looking forward to the most. To keep things well balanced, I’ve chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. For 2024, the fest has once again programmed a compelling selection of unknown directors, first-time filmmakers, and potential hits that could breakout. As usual with Sundance, you never can really tell what’ll good or bad before watching anything, but here’s my early picks anyway. I recommend adding these 10 films to your festival schedule / or to your watchlist.

For the full line-up of films showing at Sundance 2024 – click here. Follow my reviews on Letterboxd. This will be my 18th year in a row covering Sundance, starting back in 2007 then ever since. I’m still excited to be watching the latest indie films, even from afar, and I’m hoping there’s some good discoveries despite the chaotic times we’re living in. The fest is just about to begin, here’s my Top 10 most anticipated 2024 films.

Alex’s Most Anticipated ~Sundance 2024~ Feature Films:

Exhibiting Forgiveness
Exhibiting Forgiveness
Directed by Titus Kaphar

This is perhaps my most anticipated film at Sundance 2024 because it really feels like it’s going to be one of this year’s cinema gems that will go on to have a beautiful life beyond the festival. It’s the feature directorial debut of an artist named Titus Kaphar, starring André Holland, John Earl Jelks, Andra Day, and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. What it’s about: “Utilizing his paintings to find freedom from his past, a Black artist on the path to success is derailed by an unexpected visit from his estranged father, a recovering addict desperate to reconcile. Together, they learn that forgetting might be a greater challenge than forgiving.” Yep that sounds like it’s going to be a winner. Sundance adds: “this soulful, sophisticated, and beautifully crafted debut feature blossoms a hard-to-tell story about destructive parenting, the seasons of angst weathered by an abused child becoming a successful human being, and the deep meaning and salve of creative practice.” I’ve heard enough! I’ve got my ticket, ready to watch this with the Sundance audience at the world premiere.

Love Me
Love Me
Directed by Sam Zuchero & Andy Zuchero

This is my favorite “wait, what?!” film of the festival line-up this year (since there’s quite a few). Here’s the synopsis: “Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love.” Okayyy I’m sold. I’ll be at the world premiere. I have to find out what this is, I have to see where story goes, I have to see how they visualize this in a film. The strange thing is it’s not just beeping machines, there are actors playing the two main roles: Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun. I’m not sure which is playing which, the satellite or the buoy, but I’m intrigued to find out and watch their performances. Sundance drops this nice tease: “[the film’s] whimsically philosophical, shape-shifting structure ingeniously weaves together the real, the virtual, and the surreal.” Adding that after collecting data for all these years: “Awash in these mediated experiences and fabricated expressions of love and identity, they yearn to understand who they are, whether their feelings are real, and for that matter, whether they are real.” My kind of intelligent cinema – can’t wait.

My Old Ass
My Old Ass
Directed by Megan Park

Another favorite Sundance trope is: a stuck-in-life character reexamines themselves after going through a major (and usually hilarious) mind-opening experience. This one sounds like a fun one: “The summer before college, bright-yet-irreverent Elliott comes face-to-face with her older self during a mushroom trip. The encounter spurs a funny and heartfelt journey of self-discovery and first love as Elliott prepares to leave her childhood home.” So it’s about a woman encountering her older self and ending up on a coming-of-age love story journey. It could perhaps be another a lo-fi sci-fi concept, similar to the Sundance 2021 film How It Ends, but it actually just seems like another drug trip film with all the usual rediscover-yourself bells and whistles. Sundance adds this tidbit about the cast that should convince anyone to watch: “Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza have a terrific unlikely chemistry, as the sass and self-assuredness of the young Elliott, as played by Stella, blends and overlaps with Plaza’s sardonic humor as a more mature Elliott.” Yep I’m there.

Thelma
Thelma
Directed by Josh Margolin

A 93-year-old gets revenge! Ha! I’m all for this, it sounds like such a fun time, just the kind of film we all need right now. June Squibb taking on her first lead role in her very long career as an actor is incredible! I’m still amazed that this is even true. “When 93-year-old Thelma Post gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her.” Best part about this is it’s inspired by the filmmaker’s own grandmother, named Thelma, though I’m not quite sure if that actually means she went out for revenge and found the guys who scammed her, too. This is beginning a pretty common plot (Jason Statham’s The Beekeeper is also about him getting revenge on old person scammers) but I have a very good feeling this film is going to handle it just right, letting the actual elderly person (who got scammed) be the star of the show as she goes out on her own to make her mark. I definitely won’t be missing this – I think audiences at the festival are going to flip for this film, too.

Sasquatch Sunset
Sasquatch Sunset
Directed by David Zellner & Nathan Zellner

Wait, what?! A whole film about a Sasquatch family? With people in suits playing the Sasquatches the entire time? Get out of here! This is the kind of weird, wacky, have-to-see-it Sundance film that I love discovering and experiencing with an audience during the festival. The description is purposefully vague: “A year in the life of a singular family.” But early word is that it is as bonkers as we’re all hoping, and sticks close to the premise. More from one early review: “Sasquatch Sunset may be entirely conveyed through errant grunts, failed sexual overtures, and prolific amounts of pissing and shitting, but it somehow manages to cohere into a heartbreaking — and all too human — story about a species oblivious to its own demise.” If you need any more convicning this is worth seeing, the family of Sasquatches is played by actors Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Nathan Zellner, and Christophe Zacaj-Denek – all completely unrecognizable under their make-up and costumes. Yes, for the whole film. Yep, I’ve got my ticket for the premiere already ready to go.

Other Feature Films I’m Looking Forward To: The Outrun with Saoirse Ronan, Steven Soderbergh’s Presence, Thea Hvistendahl’s Handling the Undead, Jane Schoenbrun’s I Saw the TV Glow, the midnight horror In a Violent Nature, Krazy House with Nick Frost & Alicia Silverstone, Realm of Satan, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Rob Peace, Mikko Makela’s Sebastian, Stress Positions, Suncoast, Tendaberry, The Moogai, The American Society of Magical Negroes (view a trailer), Freaky Tales, A Different Man with Sebastian Stan.

Alex’s Most Anticipated ~Sundance 2024~ Documentaries:

A New Kind of Wilderness
A New Kind of Wilderness
Directed by Silje Evensmo Jacobsen

I am a HUGE fan of the Sundance 2016 film Captain Fantastic, it’s one of my all-time favorites for many reasons (my original review). It seems a bit of an obvious pick for Sundance to now program A New Kind of Wilderness, which sounds exactly like the real-world documentary version of Captain Fantastic, and that’s why it’s one of my most anticipated docs. A family with a bunch of kids living off-the-grid (in Norway) on a sustainable, grow-everything-yourselves lifestyle must deal with life-changing upheaval when one of the parents passes away. Yeah this is exactly what Captain Fantastic is like, but I’m especially interested to see how an actual, real family deals with this and what insight the film will offer as it follows them through this moment in their lives. The Sundance description makes it sound like it’ll be an emotional experience. “[Director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen] crafts a sensitive, affectionate, and completely heartfelt experience that is as much about navigating grief as it is about graciously accepting change.” It’s one of my must watch docs.

Every Little Thing
Every Little Thing
Directed by Sally Aitken

I have no idea what this film is going to be like or what it’s going to show us, but a documentary about how hummingbirds have changed one woman’s life? Yeah I’m intrigued. I want to find out more. The initial Sundance intro: “Amid the glamour of Hollywood, Los Angeles, a woman finds herself on a transformative journey as she nurtures wounded hummingbirds, unraveling a visually captivating and magical tale of love, fragility, healing, and the delicate beauty in tiny acts of greatness.” They have only released this one hazy, glitzy image (seen above) of the hummingbird, so it’s really hard to tell where this film where go or what else it’s going to explore in its 93 minute runtime. But I want to be there at the premiere to find out, it might be another sensational, life-affirming doc just like last year’s Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (which I also highly recommend discovering). The birds even have names: “The viewer becomes emotionally invested in Cactus, Jimmy, Wasabi, Alexa, and Mikhail, celebrating their small victories and lamenting their tiny tragedies.”

Never Look Away
Never Look Away
Directed by Lucy Lawless

This film wins the award for 2024 for having the greatest got-your-attention promo images. The couple of shots they’ve released for Never Look Away are all I need to be convinced that this is a must see doc at Sundance 2024 (which is why the teaser image at the top of this article is one of these images). Kiwi actress Lucy Lawless (who was the original “Xena: Warrior Princess”) is making her directorial debut profiling an intrepid journalist. “New Zealand–born groundbreaking CNN camerawoman Margaret Moth risks it all to show the reality of war from inside the conflict, staring down danger and confronting those who perpetuate it.” I’m always fascinated by stories like this, about incredibly brave people doing incredibly brave things, especially journalists who risk it all to cover important stories. The Sundance intro makes it sound like a profound film about more than journalism: “Lawless creates a distinctively female, Kiwi lens to cover this titanic career, showing both the horrors & life-affirming dimensions of war from a woman’s point of view.”

Black Box Diaries
Black Box Diaries
Directed by Shiori Ito

I’m interested in this one solely from the description and also that it sounds like it’s going to an important, powerful film retelling a major #MeToo story. Here’s the initial intro: “Journalist Shiori Ito embarks on a courageous investigation of her own sexual assault in an improbable attempt to prosecute her high-profile offender. Her quest becomes a landmark case in Japan, exposing the country’s outdated judicial and societal systems.” It’s the story of the woman at the center of Japan’s #MeToo movement. Not only is it telling her entirey story in complete, unfiltered detail, it’s also directed by Shiori Ito herself, which hopefully means she will dig deep into showing us just how hard it is to confront patriarchy. This line from Sundance is what should make anyone want to watch this: “it is an impressively crafted, concise piece of filmmaking — guided by a strong sense of purpose and broken up by occasional moments of joy. Ito came forward to challenge her high-profile abuser despite knowing the risks.” this film’s premiere is going to be an emotional experience.

Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story
Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story
Directed by Ian Bonhôte & Peter Ettedgui

Early word is that this is going to be one of the best documentaries at Sundance 2024, right up there with last year’s Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie. It’s not as if we haven’t heard Christopher Reeve’s story, everyone knows what happened to him, and he made many, many appearances over the years before passing away in 2004. However, my hope is that this film expands upon his story, adding to it by giving us a more intimate, and more honest examination of his unique life than ever before. This seems to be the case, as the Sundance description hints at exactly that idea: “Never-before-seen home movies and extraordinary personal archives reveal how Christopher Reeve went from unknown actor to iconic movie star as the ultimate screen superhero. He learned the true meaning of heroism as an activist after suffering a tragic accident that left him quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.” This doc film is also not available to view online at all during the online portion of the festival, so it’s an important must-see-while-at-Sundance experience.

More Docs I’ll Be Watching: Amanda McBaine & Jesse Moss’ Girls State, Benjamin Ree’s Ibelin, Yance Ford’s Power, Skywalkers: A Love Story, moth doc Nocturnes, Bhutan’s Agent of Happiness, J.M. Harper’s As We Speak, Chris Smith’s music biopic Devo, Emily Kassie & Julian Brave NoiseCat’s Sugarcane, Luther: Never Too Much, Union about unionizing at Amazon, Johan Grimonprez’s Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat.

For ALL of Alex’s Sundance 2024 updates: follow @firstshowing or follow @alexb.bsky.social

For more Sundance 2024 previews around the web, highlighting early picks and potential breakouts, also see: The Film Stage’s 20 Most-Anticipated Premieres, Indiewire’s 26 Must-See Films at This Year’s Festival, Rolling Stone’s 20 Most-Anticipated Movies from Sundance 2024, and also Nylon’s The 13 Most Anticipated Films of Sundance 2024. You never know what might be a big hit, and it’s vital to have a pulse on the early buzz – even before the fest starts. There’s plenty of intriguing films found in the selection this year, tons of discoveries from first time filmmakers and up-and-coming talent, so let’s jump right in and start watching.

You can follow our Sundance 2024 coverage and reviews right here and on Alex’s Letterboxd. The festival begins on January 18th and runs until January 28th, with films premiering online + locally. Glad to be back.

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Oppie & Miles & Nora & Arthur – Alex’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2023 | FirstShowing.net

Oppie & Miles & Nora & Arthur – Alex’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2023

by Alex Billington
January 5, 2024

“The world is changing. Reforming. This is your moment.” Another year, another Top 10. After watching more than 400 films throughout 2023 (always logging everything on my Letterboxd for anyone curious) it’s time to share my final selection of My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2023. I try to watch as much as I can and give myself time to catch up with any extra films at the end of the year, but my favorites can come from anytime in 2023. I fell hard for all the major ones – Oppenheimer, Spider-Verse, Past Lives, Poor Things, and American Fiction. Before anyone asks about the ones missing: I’m not that big on Killers of the Flower Moon (it’s good not great), I quite like Anatomy of a Fall but it didn’t make the cut, Godland and The Eight Mountains are on last year’s Top 10, Saltburn is bad (yeah it’s meh), and Godzilla: Minus One is great also didn’t make the cut. I stuck to my gut and chose these 10 that made me passionate for cinema all over again.

For the previous year’s Top 10 of 2022 list, topped by EEAAO of course, click here (also 2021 + 2020). You can check out my selection of Favorite Movie Posters from 2023 with a look at some of the best cinema art.

A few notes: this is a list of my favorite films, not the best films of the year, these are the ones that I love for my own reasons and I’ll try to explain why with each one. As always, I wish I had so much more to time to watch/rewatch films, and see every last film that played in 2023, but that’s impossible so this is just what I decided to run with. Also – my film selection is based on the date when I originally saw the film at a public event, including film festivals (Venice, Sundance) or public releases limited or otherwise. This is not based on only films released in 2023, but the ones I experienced in 2023, and is a good representation of the best cinema has given us, in my opinion. I’m always a bit nervous to finalize my list, but these are all films I love.

#1. La Chimera directed by Alice Rohrwacher

La Chimera

Arthur and his band of Tombaroli. I watched this film three times at three festivals in 2023. It’s that good. There are two songs performed in the film by an Italian folk singer and when the first one kicks in (the song about the “Tombaroli”), I get chills every time. I adore this film. It’s magical, mystical, and special in about 100 ways. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I don’t think anyone else can even attempt to replicate Alice Rohrwacher’s filmmaking. Truly one-of-a-kind. La Chimera is a mesmerizing, alluring journey through the afterlife – exploring the idea of souls and humanity traversing across time from generation to generation. I am in awe of the performance by Josh O’Connor as Arthur, one of my all-time favorite performances. There’s an aching longing that he embodies so perfectly, while maintaining his sense of appreciation for life as he rolls around the Italian hillsides with the Tombaroli. The shot-on-film cinematography by the French DP maestro Hélène Louvart is also heavenly. I can watch this film over & over & over and never tire of it.

#2. Oppenheimer directed by Christopher Nolan

Oppenheimer

“Are you saying that there’s a chance that when we push that button… we destroy the world?” Yes, indeed there is. This might just be Christopher Nolan’s Magnum Opus. It’s an incredible movie. I wasn’t sure if he would pull this off, it’s such a precarious and dangerous story to tell, yet he aced it. A monumental work of cinema and storytelling. The moment I knew it would be on my Top 10 actually hit me during my second viewing. I went to see it in IMAX (after the initial press screening in a regular cinema) and they cranked the volume and when that “Can You Hear the Music” track kicks in and it cuts to the shot of the clouds over the German city while Oppie’s living in Europe, I was completely taken away. My whole body was shook to its core by Ludwig Göransson’s one-of-the-best-of-all-time scores (yes, seriously) perfectly complementing this intricate story of a complicated intellectual and his destructive creation. And that is just one part. Cillian Murphy’s performance is flawless, the set design and production design is extraordinary, the editing are breathtaking. This is the kind of cinematic experience I live for, and once again, Nolan has made my Top 10.

#3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse directed by Joaquim Dos Santos & Kemp Powers & Justin K. Thompson

Across the Spider-Verse

It does not bother me at all that this is only “half of the story,” it’s a phenomenal work of art and completes a strong arc with Gwen anyway. The first Into the Spider-Verse was on my Top 10 of 2018, and I’m happy that the sequel is as good as, if not better, than that masterpiece. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the they-actually-went-and-did-it sequel that lives up to the heart & soul of the original, and again breaks the barriers of visual storytelling by pushing everything further than it has before. I wrote a glowing review when it first came out: “It’s the epitome of cinema as a visual medium, an eye-popping blend of comic book fundamentals, animation (all styles / techniques / formats), and modern storytelling concepts. As always with cinema, story is key – and the filmmakers know this and care deeply. They’ve also outdone themselves in creating one of the most mesmerizing and psychedelic works of art in cinema.” I love how the colors and the stylistic choices in every scene represent the emotions of the characters and what they’re feeling as they go through a moment in their story. I can’t wait to find out what happens next in Beyond the Spider-Verse.

#4. Past Lives directed by Celine Song

Past Lives

What a film. What a beautiful film. What more can I add to the discourse that hasn’t already been said by everyone else who adores this touching film from writer / director Celine Song. I am still so astonished that this is her feature debut, but it also goes to show she really has an eye for cinematic storytelling. There are a few shots that I can never forget just because the cinematography is so lovely to look at, so softly and warmly capturing the moment with a great amount of intimacy focused on Nora. It’s her story after all. I had to watch this film twice before really settling into my appreciation of it, and accepting it as such a moving work of art that does work as well on repeat viewings. I got hit hard by emotions both times when it gets to that end scene, where Nora walks Hae Sung out to his Uber at the end of his trip to NYC. That’s the power of great cinema. Absolutely an iconic performance from Greta Lee taking on Nora, but I also need to praise both John Magaro and Teo Yoo in holding their own with grace as her two great loves. Such charmers.

#5. Poor Things directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Poor Things

Bella Baxter! Woman of the year! Heartbreaker! Love-maker! Pastéis enjoyer! Ha ha. This film SLAYS. The press screening at the Venice Film Festival was one of the year’s best experiences because you could almost touch the buzz wafting in the air with everyone loving it more & more as it played. Which is not a common occurrence in a room full of snobby critics, to be frank. I also watched this film two times at two different festivals to confirm it holds up and it does. And the audience loved it the second time as well. One of the best performances ever from Emma Stone, though I always think she’s exceptional. At first she doesn’t seem that refined… until you watch her progressively mature and begin to “grow up” over the course of the film, becoming more empowered and insightful as she surfs the waves of patriarchy. The strange score by Jerskin Fendrix is so inexplicably odd yet nicely adds to the weirdness of the whole film, and it’s hard to forget after hearing it. A total knock out, sex-positive, feminist, fearless, freaky creation from the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos. I still think the opening 30 minutes are rough, but other than that, this is a genius film.

#6. Perfect Days directed by Wim Wenders

Perfect Days

A-ha! This is another of my personal favorites from Cannes back in May (my full review) that I haven’t been able to get off of my mind all year. The peace and calm of this film is deeply inspirational and so moving for me. I am profoundly drawn to the Buddhist philosophy found within, the way it shows us how Hirayama has left his life of luxury and wealth to live a simple life, doing the job that no one wants to do yet still finding happiness in every moment. I love that he takes photos of trees. I love his little apartment that he cleans up every day. I love how humble and heartfelt he always is dealing with any situation. Koji Yakusho really does deserve all the awards and accolades for his performance as Hirayama in this, it’s the most soulful and rejuvenating performance in any film of 2023. The soundtrack is great, all of his favorite oldies that make his days brighter. Another film I’ve been recommending and encouraging anyone watch whenever they can.

#7. American Fiction directed by Cord Jefferson

American Fiction

Have a laugh with Monk as he sets out to prove his point about how dumb everyone is right now. This film! Such a joy to watch, some of the best laughs of the year. Such a smart script that slices through the bullshit to show everyone how much the conversation around media right now is total nonsense. Yes of course the meta commentary is obvious, especially considering this is Cord Jefferson’s feature directorial debut, and we have to wonder if he’s thinking about what everyone is saying about this film in the context of what the film is literally about. Jeffrey Wright is always great in any role, no matter how big or small (love him in Wes Anderson’s films), but he’s especially remarkable in this film. Not only does he need to ace the Stagg R. Leigh persona on top of his regular performance, he also needs to hold all the emotional weight of someone going through this and dealing with the loss in his family. I also really do appreciation the more emotional, grounded side of the story about his family and budding romance, it adds depth to the film & Monk’s story.

#8. The Holdovers directed by Alexander Payne

The Holdovers

A new Christmas classic. Yep, it’s already a classic. I watched this film again during Christmas just to see if it holds up to that acclaim, and it really does. There’s just something so cinematically warm and wholesome and endearing about it, even though it’s set during a cold winter. The performances, the vintage 70s vibe, the snowy setting, the soundtrack and song choices, the story about these three lonely people going through the holidays trying to make sense of their lives. How much of a difference good friends and good cheer and good moments can make. A shining example of how to make a great film where everything works together. Paul Giamatti is hilariously unforgettable as the stodgy Paul Hunham, Dominic Sessa is impressive and endearing in his first ever big screen role as Angus Tully, though my favorite performance is still Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb. Her “mhmms” will live on in my mind forever. I’ve been recommending this film to everyone this winter. 🎶 “Crying never did nobody no good, no how… That’s why I don’t cry…” 🎶

#9. The Taste of Things / The Pot au Feu directed by Anh Hung Tran

The Taste of Things

I’m still not sure if this new English title holds up. The Taste of Things is all too bland for such an elegant film. I prefer it as The Pot au Feu, which is what it originally screened under at Cannes this year (though I also don’t care for the longer French title La Passion de Dodin Bouffant). Nonetheless, this magnificent film is one of the best food films ever made. Perfect from start to finish, with some of the finest cinematography all year. Gorgeous shots galore, everything’s framed so perfectly. I actually think it’s better than most of the other food films that other critics reference when they compare this one. Juliette Binoche plays Eugénie with just the right amount of confidence and sophistication, an unforgettable character and incomparably great chef. Benoît Magimel as the Dodin Bouffant also brings his charm to the table to match her, as their chemistry is vitally important in making the heart of this film beat so vividly and so passionately. I may not want to try every dish she makes, but that doesn’t make me like this any less. That pear shot is an all-timer.

#10. The Monk and the Gun directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji

The Monk and the Gun

Another wonderful surprise from the second half of the year. Bhutanese director Pawo Choyning Dorji returns with his second feature film after Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, and its even better with a more potent message. Aside from how terrific it is to see more stories from the tiny mountain country of Bhutan told authentically from the Bhutanese side (which is what makes this one particularly unique), this film becomes something more meaningful once it gets to the core of what it’s trying to convey with this story of “the monk and the gun.” The performances are all exceptional, especially by Tandin Wangchuk as Tashi and Deki Lhamo as Tshomo. As the film plays out (why does he need this gun?) and the story unfolds, I started to feel more and more invigorated by what I was watching, where it was going, what it was trying to say. They don’t know what you to know that this film makes fun of American ideals, but it does so in such a wholesome and uplifting way it’s hard not to be completely charmed by this film. Absolutely worth a watch.

BONUS! Mars Express directed by Jérémie Périn

Mars Express

Another animated movie that deserves to be mentioned alongside all the other movies in this Top 10. Yes, of course I already have Across the Spider-Verse on here, but animation is awesome (and it’s for anyone of any age to enjoy) and so is this movie. I haven’t stopped thinking about this since first catching it at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival back in May. It has stayed on my mind all this time and stands out. Mars Express is a spectacular, thrilling, visually engaging modern animated sci-fi movie. It’s a futuristic noir detective story about robots and AI and technology, borrowing plenty from the classics Ghost in the Shell & Blade Runner, but still delivering something entirely unique in its own ways. Not enough people have been able to see it yet, following its premieres in Cannes & Annecy last summer, but I think the buzz will grow with more time. The characters are memorable, the whole experience is riveting and even better watched on the big screen if at all possible. This is the excellent sci-fi cinema I look forward to encountering and it is worth discovering.

More 2023 Faves: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, Sam Freeman & Ng Choon Ping’s Femme, Richard Linklater’s Hitman (tore down the house in Venice), Chloe Domont’s Fair Play, Laura McGann’s The Deepest Breath, Roger Ross Williams’ Cassandro, Molly Gordon & Nick Lieberman’s Theater Camp, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (yep!), Jeff Rowe’s Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, and Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper.

I could discuss all of my favorites endlessly, so if you ever want to chat about cinema, just ask me something about any of them. You can always find all of my ratings and additional thoughts on every film I watched in 2023 on my Letterboxd profile. There are always a few other films I did not get the chance to watch last year due to time constraints, but I still try to catch as many films as possible that my colleagues have been talking about. I am always watching new work throughout the year, seeking out the most exhilarating cinema – films that leave me in awe. If you have questions or thoughts about my Top 10 picks (or anything else), please get in touch: @firstshowing or @alexb.bsky.social. Now let’s dive right into 2024 with hope for what lies ahead.

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Looking Ahead: 10 Movies Opening in 2024 That Will Blow You Away | FirstShowing.net

Looking Ahead: 10 Movies Opening in 2024 That Will Blow You Away

by Alex Billington
December 28, 2023

“Let me fight beside you.” The calm before the storm… 2024 is just around the corner, the New Year ready to welcome us whether we like it or not. In celebration of New Years and the begining of 2024, we’re taking a quick look ahead at some of our Most Anticipated Movies of 2024. Hollywood is in a tumultuous time, coming out of two big strikes in 2023 not to mention myriad other issues related to streaming & storytelling & beyond. So they don’t confirm release dates as far in advance as they used to. The December 2024 line-up is remarkable sparse right now, and plenty of other movies initially set for release in 2024 are just going into production due to the strikes preventing them from filming. The 2024 Release Schedule is always subject to changes and updates, as usual, but for now – these 10 exciting movies below should still arrive in theaters sometime next year. Plenty more to come as Hollywood reveals their surprises waiting in the wings. I tend to focus on sci-fi, since it’s my favorite genre, and 2024 has some sci-fi movies ready to rock theaters.

2024 will be FirstShowing’s 18th year in operation as a movie website. Hopefully it continues to be a good resource for updates and information on upcoming movies, as our goal is to remain a high quality site that is accessible to anyone (no paywalls and no locked content) without resorting to clickbait. It’s in our nature to always look forward to whatever the next highly anticipated “first showing” opening night is, so here we go…

Dune: Part Two (Dir. Denis Villeneuve) – Opening March 1st, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Dune: Part Two

THE BIG ONE!! While this sequel was originally supposed to be a 2023 movie, it will now be one of the best cinematic experiences of 2024 – guaranteed. I’ve got a very good feeling about this one. Most importantly, Denis Villeneuve seems confident as well. In a few interviews, he’s already been talking about how this is a “better” movie with more action, more of the sci-fi storytelling he has been waiting to get into after making the first half. I often still think about how Dune: Part One is one of the best sci-fi movies in a long time, and this is going to be even better. Sandworm armies! Emperor Shaddam IV! The rise of the Muad’Dib! If you haven’t read the book, you have no idea what we’re in for… The cast should be enough to get anyone excited: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken, Tim Blake Nelson, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Léa Seydoux. [Watch the trailer]

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (Dir. George Miller) – Opening May 24th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Furiosa

Let’s go, George Miller! Bring on Furiosa! When this opens, it will be 9 years since Mad Max: Fury Road opened and instantly found its place high on the list of best action movies ever made. Much like Fury Road, Furiosa was plagued with production problems and setbacks. They finally shot it in 2022 down in Australia, and it has been getting ready for release ever since. Warner Bros held onto it and set it for 2024 instead of 2024, which might be the right move. This prequel is also based on a screenplay that was written years ago before Miller even made Fury Road, and apparently the crew have been anxiously awaiting this one. As it will be the real deal. A glimpse of footage from the first teaser confirms this is going to rock. Furiosa stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Imperator Furiosa, Chris Hemsworth as Dementus, with Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Nathan Jones as Rictus Erectus, Angus Sampson as The Organic Mechanic. Can’t! Wait! [Watch the teaser]

Megalopolis (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola) – No Release Date Set Yet

10 Movies in 2024 - Megalopolis

Yep – 2024 is the year of Francis Ford Coppola. While he did make a few experimental indie films in the late 00s (Youth Without Youth, Tetro, Twixt), this is his first major production since 1997’s The Rainmaker. The early rumor is that this is expected to premiere at Cannes 2024, making it this year’s Killers of the Flower Moon – a beloved American filmmaker bringing his ambitious, expensive new project to debut at the festival. Coppola had to finance most of this himself, as the budget is rumored to be over $100M. The sci-fi spectacle is set in NYC and apparently deals a lot with what’s happening in the world now. “In New York, a woman is divided between loyalties to her father, who has a classical view of society, and her architect lover, who is more progressive & ready for the future.” Plus the massive ensemble cast is to die for: Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Schwartzman, Talia Shire, Dustin Hoffman, D.B. Sweeney, and Giancarlo Esposito. I am so curious about it.

Joker: Folie à Deux (Dir. Todd Phillips) – Opening October 4th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Joker: Folie à Deux

Arthur Fleck is back for more mayhem. More clown masks. More jokes. More of… everything. Co-writer / director Todd Phillips got actor Joaquin Phoenix back to make this highly anticipated sequel, and it’s now set to open in October, same as the first Joker movie in 2019. Instead of calling it Joker 2, the new title is Joker: Folie à Deux, because it’ll be introducing Joker’s partner-in-crime: Lady Gaga as Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka the DC villain Harley Quinn. The main cast also includes Zazie Beets returning, with Brendan Gleeson, Catherine Keener, Jacob Lofland, and Harry Lawtey. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher returns, along with composer Hildur Guðnadóttir. Will this be less controversial, more entertaining? Doubtful. I expect it to be even more controversial, but that sounds good to me, as the obnoxious stir the first movie caused was annoying but also brought more people to it and helped cement it as a major moment in cinema.

Alien: Romulus (Dir. Fede Alvarez) – Opening August 16th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Alien: Romulus

Another Alien movie is ready! This new one isn’t directed by Ridley Scott (he’s finishing up Gladiator 2 also scheduled for release in 2024). While the title Alien: Romulus isn’t official or confirmed yet, this is the working title they’ve been using. This standalone movie is set between the events of Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), though not many other confirmed details are known about the plot yet. Perhaps another spaceship thriller where a crew is overrun by a xenomorph? Acclaimed Uruguayan horror filmmaker Fede Álvarez (of Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe) is writing & directing. In March 2022, it was announced that Álvarez would be making the film after pitching his own story, “unconnected” to the previous films in the franchise. Filming is finished, with an August opening in theaters. Starring Cailee Spaeny (from Priscilla), Isabela Merced, David Jonsson, and Archie Renaux. Expect to see a teaser trailer sometime in the first months of 2024.

LOTR: The War of the Rohirrim (Dir. Kenji Kamiyama) – Opening December 13th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim

Yes, there’s a brand new LOTR movie in 2024! The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim is an animated movie produced by Warner Bros Animation. It’s directed by Kenji Kamiyama, a Japanese anime director best known for the “Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.” series, Star Wars: Visions short “The Ninth Jedi”, and the Blade Runner: Black Lotus series most recently. Set 261 years before the events of The Two Towers, The War of the Rohirrim movie tells the story of Helm Hammerhand, a legendary King of Rohan who must defend against an army of Dunlendings. He becomes the namesake for the stronghold of Helm’s Deep. How awesome does that sound?! Sola Entertainment is behind the animation, using hand-drawn animation in a style reminiscent of traditional anime, with visual inspiration from the original trilogy. WB seems confident this might be a huge hit, scheduling it for a theatrical release in December when the original trilogy opened.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (Dir. Wes Ball) – Opening May 24th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Apes together strong! Another Planet of the Apes movie, not too long after the last trilogy finished (with the brilliant War for the Planet of the Apes in 2017). The ambitious, talented VFX director Wes Ball takes over (after The Maze Runner trilogy), and continues the storyline about a descendant of Caesar far in the future when Apes have been ruling the planet for generations. The story in this next one seems to be similar to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes, where it’s about one ape befriending a human being and fighting back against other vicious ape tribes that do not want peace or prosperity. With most of the money being spent on VFX and production work, the cast is lead mostly by unknown or up-and-coming actors: Owen Teague as Noa, a young chimpanzee, Freya Allan as Mae, a feral young woman, Kevin Durand as Proximus Caesar, Lydia Peckham as Soona, a female chimpanzee, along with William H. Macy. [Watch the teaser trailer]

Twisters (Dir. Lee Isaac Chung) – Opening July 19th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Twisters

They finally made a sequel to Twister! Yes, the 90s tornado movie starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. After years in development with different filmmakers, Twisters finally went into production last year with Minari director Lee Isaac Chung. They started filming for a month, but then the actors’ strike shut down production. They only recently began shooting again and it’s likely they’ll push the release date back, as it will be tough to finish all of the post-production work and VFX by July (the May 2024 date seen on the fan-made art above was the original plan – no longer the case). You never know! This new Twisters stars Glen Powell, Kiernan Shipka, Maura Tierney, and Daisy Edgar-Jones. Powell states that it’s not really a sequel: “It’s a completely original story. There are no characters from the original movie back… It’s just its own standalone story in the modern day.” As a big fan of the original Twister, I have high hopes for this one.

Deadpool 3 (Dir. Shawn Levy) – Opening July 26th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Deadpool 3

Another movie that had to pause production due to the actors’ strike in 2023. They filmed for a few months, then had to wait, and have JUST begun shooting again recently. It may be pushed back, but it’s also pretty clear Disney/20th Century wants this to be a big 2024 movie no matter what. Aside from Ryan Reynolds convincing Hugh Jackman to come back to play Wolverine again (with his vintage yellow costume), what I’m most excited about is the multiverse concept. Based on early set photos, Deadpool 3 looks to be riffing on the 20th Century Fox comic book movie era, with the old logo lying broken in the background of a set they’ve been filming on, and various characters from their movies appearing in this comedy crossover event. The rest of whatever happens we’ll wait to be surprised by whenever this lands in theaters. Whatever the case, even if you didn’t care for the other two Deadpool films, this is shaping up to be a clever comedic blast.

Mickey 17 (Dir. Bong Joon-ho) – Opening March 29th, 2024

10 Movies in 2024 - Mickey 17

A new Bong Joon-ho sci-fi movie!! Enough said. This is both written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, adapted from the high-concept sci-fi novel titled “Mickey7” written by Edward Ashton (described as “The Martian meets Multiplicity“). To be frank, I’m nervous abut Warner Bros handling this movie, as the Hollywood studio system could mess up Bong’s flow (Snowpiercer had a rough time). Nonetheless, I remain hopeful & excited to see what he’s cooking up, especially returning to science fiction with a story that’s intellectually intriguing. Robert Pattinson stars as Mickey Barnes, an “Expendable”: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. There can’t be more than two at the same time, but after he goes missing he comes back to discover another, and refuses to let his replacement clone take his place. Will Bong Joon-ho make some adjustments to the plot? We’ll have to wait and find out… [Watch the teaser]

Others not listed that we’re also looking forward to in 2024: Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Bob Marley: One Love (out soon), Gil Kenan’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (really hope it’s good), Adam Wingard’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers (held over from 2023), Alex Garland’s Civil War (will it be any good?), David Leitch’s The Fall Guy, Pixar’s Inside Out 2 (looking good), Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga (x2), Shyamalan’s Trap, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice 2, DreamWorks Animation’s The Wild Robot, Leigh Whannell’s Wolf Man, Barry Levinson’s Alto Knights, Len Wiseman’s Ballerina Barry Jenkins’ Mufasa: The Lion King, Lynne Ramsay’s Polaris, and Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu. Plus of course the sequel Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse if they get it finished (it was set for March until the strikes, now it doesn’t have any release date – I hope they’ll take their time to do it right).

Keep an eye out for more updates on 2024 releases, and stay tuned for the latest trailers and reviews. Our mission with FirstShowing is to always keep everyone informed & excited about upcoming movies, year after year. Stay passionate, stay open-minded, stay interested. You never know which movies will surprise us (in good ways or bad ways), you never know which will end up really blowing us away. Maybe none of these 10 will? Maybe all of them will? It’s time to find out as we slide right into the New Year of movies that await us.

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Best of the Fest – 10 Favorites from the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

Best of the Fest – 10 Favorites from the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

by Alex Billington
February 3, 2023

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last week after returning to a 10-day in-person event in Utah running alongside an online counterpart. Now it’s time to present our annual Best of the Fest list. I was able to catch a total of 50 films this year (my full list on Letterboxd), half of them at screenings in Park City, the other half virtual screenings. This is my 17th year in a row covering Sundance, and this fest still has a special place in my heart. It was so nice to be back again. I am presenting one big list of my 10 favorite films – a mix of a few documentaries and narrative features. All 10 of these below are worth watching, and I highly recommend seeing them on the big screen whenever they show up at your local theater. I also wrote another editorial about how much Sundance 2023 focused on discoveries & first-time filmmakers, returning to their roots as a launching ground for so many wonderfully talented storytellers. Below are my favorites, the films that connected with me and have remained on my mind all the way through the 10 days of the fest.

It’s always my priority during Sundance to watch as many films as I can, mainly just to see them. Even if I don’t love every film I watch, I’m just happy to see what they’re all about and learn about what makes them so unique. This festival always programs some of the most innovative and authentic films you’ll watch all year. Some of the others that I missed and still need to catch up with: The Starling Girl, Fancy Dance, Fremont, The Persian Version, Rotting in the Sun, Run Rabbit Run, Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, and Sorcery. I also encourage all movie lovers to make time for documentaries – don’t ignore them, they’re all too often lost in the mix. They deserve to be seen, too! There’s at least three important ones from this year that I recommend: The Disappearance of Shere Hite (read my review), Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, and Deep Rising (read my review) – in addition to the two others I talk about below. I’m always grateful to the Sundance Film Festival for letting me attend the festival with a press badge and grab tickets to the public screenings, it’s an invigorating experience that brings me joy year after year after year.

While I saw many films that I enjoyed (my full list of 50 here), there were a few more I missed even though I heard good things about them. But these are my favorite films from this year’s fest from those that I did see.

Alex’s Top 10 Favorite ~Sundance 2023~ Films:

The Deepest Breath
The Deepest Breath
Directed by Laura McGann

An unforgettable screening experience at Sundance; I was wiping away tears at the end, along with everyone else. The Deepest Breath is a doc film about the extremely dangerous, extraordinary sport of free diving – holding your breath for extended periods of time while diving underwater. Everyone at this was collectively holding their breath while watching everyone in the film holding their breath in these intense free diving competitions. I love this film and I think it’s one of the most exhilarating and emotional extreme sports docs all year, instantly joining the ranks of Free Solo and 14 Peaks and all the others. The story follows two iconic free divers – Alessia Zecchini and Stephen Keenan. I wish many others could have the same big screen experience watching this with a mesmerized audience as I did at Sundance, but it will be out on Netflix so most will probably just watch at home on their own TVs. The score by composer Nainita Desai makes this film the emotionally gratifying experience that it is, and the storytelling kept my focus from start to finish.

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Directed by Davis Guggenheim

Oh wow. Easily one of the best actor biopic docs since the Val Kilmer doc Val a few years back. It’s not about every moment in his life (though it’s exciting to see all the key moments play out), but that’s not the point, it’s concise and gives us just the right emotional shot in just around 90 minutes. Michael J. Fox bears all and let’s us into his life and struggles being an actor / husband / father living with Parkinson’s disease. It’s impressively cinematic in an endearing way, combining clips from all of his film & TV work to tell his story and make us feel closer to him. In the intro, director Davis Guggenheim said he couldn’t really put into words how he feels about Michael because this film is how he feels about him. And you can certainly sense that in it, absolutely. Not easy to capture the heart and soul and optimism of someone, yet he does it with grace and love. And I feel like that’s what the beauty of this film really is – giving us a sense of who he is and his optimism and uplifting spirit – inspiring all of us to overcome, be better, and to live the best lives we can.

Rye Lane
Rye Lane
Directed by Raine Allen Miller

The romantic comedy of the year! So fresh and exciting and new and inventive. Everyone will instantly fall in love with Yas and Dom! I want to chill with them more! I want to know how they’re doing after this story ends! Rye Lane is the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Raine Allen Miller, who utilizes funky wide angle cinematography, all the gorgeous vibrant colors of South London, and a radical one-of-a-kind score by the artist Kwes to make this film one of the most instantly lovable and empowering romcoms if the 2020s. Then there’s the two delightful lead performances by David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah as Dom and Yas, respectively, and their magical chemistry as they make their way around London, taking down bad exes and eating tasty food all along. One critic friend said this is one of his favorite romantic comedies ever, which should be more than enough praise to make sure this ends up being a big hit when it opens this year.

Fair Play
Fair Play
Directed by Chloe Domont

Might be my #1 of Sundance 2023 – also a phenomenal screening experience. This is why I go to festivals, to sit in a crowd and be amazed by cinema. The completely packed house at the Eccles Theater erupted into a standing ovation as soon as it was over, with cheers of “bravo! bravo!” and non-stop applause. Fair Play is an exceptional Wall Street thriller about a stock broker couple falling apart thanks to the misogynistic hate that bubbles up when an ambitious woman gets promoted to the coveted job that all the men want. It’s as gripping as Uncut Gems, with even better performances. A film that will get people talking, just because it’s so brash and bold and challenges the status quo. I wrote in my review: “Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor are exceptional. Especially in the second half, these two unleash the kind of performances that will be remembered forever. I’m convinced, I’ve seen enough, it’s time to step back and hand over the keys to Hollywood to Chloe Domont. It’s her world now, I’m just another analyst who wants to help her succeed.”

Past Lives
Past Lives
Directed by Celine Song

A beautiful, warm embrace of a film. Past Lives is going to be one of the most adored films of 2023, for good reason. I’m in awe that this is the first featured made by Celine Song, she carefully tells this story with humility and empathy. This film deserves all the same love and attention as The Worst Person in the World, similar in many ways about a woman trying to figure out how she feels between two men. Greta Lee is exceptional in the lead role as Nora, with two lovely supporting performances from Teo Yoo and John Magaro. It’s obviously an autobiographical, explore-her-feelings-through-cinema creation but in this case it works wonders. The emotional ending and perfect final shots in the last few scenes hit me hard. I’m really looking forward to watching this again at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival, where it’s playing in the Main Competition and has a good chance of winning the Golden Bear there. Most of all, I’m glad that so many other viewers really connected with this one, too, I’m not the only one putting it on my Best of the Fest list.

Flora and Son
Flora and Son
Directed by John Carney

John Carney can do no wrong!! Always making the best musicals. His latest original creation, titled Flora and Son, is wonderful, just wonderful. A story about a poor young Irish mother, played by Eve Hewson, who discovers the joy of creating music and reconnects with her loved ones through this newfound passion. I did not want it to end, I could easily keep watching all these brash Irish people learning to love making music and grow up and express their true selves. It really got to me, made me feel happy and optimistic. I want to watch again now! Give it to me! The mix of dance music and acoustic guitar worked well, somehow? I don’t even know how Carney keeps making amazing original musicals over & over. Yeah the ending wraps up too quickly, and it feels like it’s just getting going right when it’s over, but I still loved sitting through this. It made me extra mushy. It’s such a nice feel-good movie and we always need more of these right now.

Cassandro
Cassandro
Directed by Roger Ross Williams

Another favorite gem of Sundance! Gorgeous filmmaking about the “Liberace of Lucha Libre”. This excellent film features one the of the best Gael García Bernal performances in a long while, his Lucha persona is a delight and the best part of the film. His emotions feel so real and come through the screen so powerfully. I’ve been a fan already since his 2016 Sundance doc Life, Animated, but director Roger Ross Williams is back with his first narrative feature and it’s even more perfect than I was hoping. I was moved to tears and all I want to do now is make sure this film gets the attention it deserves, because it really needs to find a loving audience worldwide. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, allows us to appreciate and spend time with all these character, including great supporting performances from Raúl Castillo, Bad Bunny, and Roberta Colindrez. I’m glad I watched this film late in the fest, it really is one of the highlights of Sundance 2023.

Radical
Radical
Directed by Christopher Zalla

One of the best films about a teacher, an inspiring story of breaking rules and going against the grain to encourage kids to grow up as free thinkers. I was not expecting to be so moved by this film, overwhelmed by the emotional impact of watching a teacher who cares fight for his students to learn. It’s such a generous, warm-hearted, beautiful story about a teacher and his students working together to overcome adversity and carelessness. Education matters, but teachers matter the most – this film proves that once again. Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez stars as Sergio, the “radical” teacher of the title, and he continues to impress with roles that are thoroughly entertaining yet still nuanced and genuine. All of the kids are fantastic, too. The whole film will leave anyone who watches it feeling encouraged by the power that great teachers can have to change the world. It may even make a few people want to be teachers and try out some innovative teaching?

A Thousand and One
A Thousand and One
Directed by A.V. Rockwell

One of the most impressive directorial debuts of Sundance 2023 – I have been telling everyone to watch this since the premiere. Mark my words, we will hearing a lot about director A.V. Rockwell from now on. I was at the world premiere screening of this film during the first weekend of the festival and it’s an outstanding slice of cinema. I was in complete awe with how she handles this Harlem story and brings it to the screen, spanning years of time while working in potent themes of gentrification and American racism. A Thousand and One tells the story of a tenacious mother named Inez, played with tremendous empathy and heart by newcomer Teyana Taylor, and her quiet son, a boy she calls Terry. They live together in an apartment in Harlem and struggle to make ends meet and live a simple life without getting caught up in all that’s going on down on the streets of NYC below. It is the quality of the filmmaking that really stands out, as well as the honest storytelling about how incredibly hard it is to stay clean and stay out of trouble. A superb discovery.

Theater Camp
Theater Camp
Directed by Molly Gordon & Nick Lieberman

Theater Camp rules!! I couldn’t be happier with how this nerdy film turned out!! Molly Gordon & Nick Lieberman’s Theater Camp is an instant classic. Truly. It goes right on the list of Top 10 mockumentaries, absolutely irrefutably joining the ranks along with Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, This Is Spinal Tap, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, and A Mighty Wind. It’s hilarious and heartfelt and pitch perfect in every way. Not a moment I wasn’t smiling all the way through, loved every scene of it and every filmmaking choice delivers exactly what is right to make this near perfect. The build-up to the final musical number(s), the twists and turns throughout, and the performances from all of the kids and the theater camp staff, are all as brilliant as they should be. A must watch with an audience film, preferably in the theater if you can, but even with friends at home – this helps makes it an entirely enjoyable laugh-your-ass-off comedy experience.

I also recorded a podcast chat about Sundance films with Aaron Neuwirth on his Out Now Podcast – listen to that episode here. And check out my other favorite films list on my Letterboxd page. Thanks for following.

To find all of Alex’s Sundance 2023 reviews and updates:

For other Sundance 2023 best of the fest lists mentioning more films we didn’t see or didn’t include here, check out these websites: NPR’s Get these Sundance 2023 movies on your radar now, NY Times’ Sundance Standout Movies recap from Manohla Dargis, InsideHook’s The 15 Best Films at Sundance 2023, Variety’s 17 Must-See Movies From the 2023 Festival, Indiewire’s Here Are the Sundance 2023 Films You’re Going to Want to See, The Hollywood Reporter’s 15 Best Films of Sundance 2023, Collider’s The 10 Buzziest Films To Keep On Your Radar, and CheatSheet’s 10 Best Sundance 2023 Movies to Keep an Eye Out For. Our list isn’t the only list of favorites from Sundance! There are many other great films from this year that deserve your time & attention whenever they show up in your neighborhood. Keep an eye out for all of these. I always recommend watching any film from the Sundance line-up if it sounds interesting to you, and many of these will likely show up at other festivals before playing in art house theaters. Make time for as many as you can.

You can find all our Sundance 2023 coverage and reviews in this category. This wraps up our coverage of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, our 17th year in a row at this festival. We’ll be back again next year. You can also find more thoughts on many films posted on my Letterboxd. Another vibrant year of amazing films.

Find more posts: Feat, Indies, Lists, Review, Sundance 23



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Our 10 Most Anticipated Films at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

Our 10 Most Anticipated Films at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

by Alex Billington
January 17, 2023

It’s January again, which means it’s time for yet another Sundance Film Festival. After two years of only a virtual film festival, Sundance returns in 2023 to an in-person event in the snowy town of Park City, Utah. And we’re back again! Ready to start watching, diving into the impressive line-up of films this year. This is my 17th year in a row covering this film festival; I’m always looking forward to returning and watching all the new films premiering at Sundance. Packing in as many as I can catch. Out of the 100+ films showing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, I’ve picked 10 films that I’m looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I’ve chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. For 2023, the fest is leaning heavily on unknown directors, first-time filmmakers, and gems with breakout potential. As usual with Sundance, you never can really tell what’ll good or bad before, but here’s my early picks anyway.

For the full line-up of films showing at Sundance 2023 – click here. Follow my reviews on Letterboxd. This will be my 17th year in a row covering Sundance, starting back in 2007 then ever since. I’m still excited to be watching the latest indie films, even from afar, and I’m hoping there’s some good discoveries despite the chaotic times we’re living in. The fest is just about to begin, here’s my Top 10 most anticipated 2023 films.

Alex’s Most Anticipated ~Sundance 2023~ Feature Films:

Drift
Drift
Directed by Anthony Chen

This is one of my most anticipated just because it sounds so mysterious, as the festival doesn’t want to give away too much about what happens and where the film goes. The original Sundance description says: “Jacqueline escapes her war-torn country to a Greek island. She meets an unmoored tour guide and the two become close as they each find hope in the other.” It’s the first English language feature from an acclaimed Singaporean filmmaker named Anthony Chen, best known for his films Ilo Ilo and Wet Season previously. This one stars Cynthia Erivo as the woman who ends up on the island, along with a cast including Alia Shawkat and Honor Swinton Byrne. Sundance adds more buzz saying: “The film sensitively examines both Jacqueline’s fraught attempt to resume life in the aftermath of unimaginable tragedy and her growing bond with a fellow expat. Cynthia Erivo, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2019’s Harriet, vividly portrays Jacqueline’s bone-deep grief and all-too-fresh fears, as well as her guarded attempts at human connection.”

Rye Lane
Rye Lane
Directed by Raine Allen Miller

I can’t wait to watch this one!! Rye Lane looks like it might be the modern Before Sunrise/Sunset breakout from the 2023 festival. It’s another film about two young people who randomly bump into each other, and it follows them over the course of the day as they talk about romance and relationships and life and everything else. Searchlight Pictures has already picked this one up, with plans to release it in a few months (only on Hulu in the US – only in theaters in the UK). I’m set to attend one of the first screenings at the festival. “For her visually inventive feature debut, director Raine Allen-Miller launches us into a playful and vibrant world, shaping a romantic comedy that celebrates meeting the right person at the wrong time. Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia’s fresh characters leap off the page at breakneck speed in the hands of Oparah and Jonsson, channeling all the frustrations of swiping fatigue while holding onto the hope of finding the real deal.” It stars David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah as the two leads Dom and Yas. Watch the first full trailer here.

Polite Society
Polite Society
Directed by Nida Manzoor

Martial arts awesomeness!! Bring on the unveiling of Polite Society. I’ve got a feeling this might be one of the big breakouts from the Midnight section at Sundance this year. Polite Society is about a young woman from London who decides to disrupt her sister’s wedding because she doesn’t want her to become a trophy wife and give up on all of her dreams. Which is a great setup for an action comedy. “Aspiring martial artist Ria Khan believes she must save her older sister, Lena, from her impending marriage. With the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.” Starring Priya Kansara as Ria, and marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Nida Manzoor (also known for creating “We Are Lady Parts”), this has cult hit potential all over it. Maybe it will even end up being a mainstream hit, too! Only time will tell. I’ve got my ticket for the midnight premiere on the first weekend, I know the buzz from that first audience will make it the perfect experience at the festival.

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
Directed by Raven Jackson

Sundance is a festival where experimentation and innovation in filmmaking are encouraged, and this sounds like one of the films that will stand out for its originality and authenticity. This is another film produced by the very talented filmmaker Barry Jenkins (who also produced last year’s Aftersun). The short description is: “A decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us.” But the longer intro from the festival adds a few more details: “Raven Jackson’s striking debut is an assured vision, unafraid to immerse us in moments of grief and longing, or within the thickness of things left unsaid. Her camera is patient and loving, capturing the beauty of Black bodies and life. Rural quietness is filled with the transportive sounds of crickets, frogs, and water in its many forms. Jackson’s nontraditional narrative borrows from the language of memory.” I’m definitely in.

Landscape with Invisible Hand
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Directed by Cory Finley

After raving about the Hugh Jackman film Bad Education a few years ago, I’m now a big fan of filmmaker Cory Finley. He should already be a mainstream name, but I think this film will finally put him on the map in a big way. He also premiered Thoroughbreds (with Olivia Cooke & Anya Taylor-Joy & Anton Yelchin RIP) at Sundance in 2017, returning with this sci-fi story in 2023. It’s adapted from the book of the same name by M.T. Anderson, about aliens on Earth. “The Vuvv, a species of hyper-intelligent extraterrestrials, brought wondrous technology to Earth, but only the wealthiest can afford it. The rest of humanity, their livelihoods now obsolete, have to scrape together money in the tourism industry. In the case of Adam and his budding love interest Chloe, that means livestreaming their courtship for the amusement of the coffee-table sized Vuvv, who find human love exotic and interesting. When Adam and Chloe’s scheme goes sideways, Adam and his mother have to find their way out of an increasingly nightmarish alien bureaucracy.” I must see this.

Other Features I’m Looking Forward To: Sometimes I Think About Dying with Daisy Ridley, Sophie Barthes’ sci-fi The Pod Generation, Susanna Fogel’s Cat Person (based on that one article), Ira Sachs’ new film Passages, Roger Ross Williams’ Cassandro, Elijah Bynum’s Magazine Dreams with Jonathan Majors.

Alex’s Most Anticipated ~Sundance 2023~ Documentaries:

Deep Rising
Deep Rising
Directed by Matthieu Rytz

Not to be confused with the cruise ship monster horror movie from 1998 also titled Deep Rising, this is a whole other film – though it’s also about the ocean. I’m a sucker for any films about our planet and how we should be taking better care of it, so I’m already sold on this one. Very curious to learn about what’s in the deep. It sounds like it might be profoundly important in discussing even more exploitation and destruction. The festival introduces this as: “Narrated by Jason Momoa, Deep Rising illuminates the vital relationship between the deep ocean & sustaining life on Earth. The documentary also follows mining startup The Metals Company, as it pursues funding, public favor, and permission from the International Seabed Authority to mine wide swaths of the Pacific Ocean floor.” I definitely won’t be missing this documentary at the festival.

Fantastic Machine
Fantastic Machine
Directed by Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van Aertryck

Yet another film about how social media is ruining society. One of the best docs from Sundance 2022 that no one watched after the fest was All Light Everywhere, examining of the origins of the camera and how it connects to police body cams. This one sounds like it follows up on that doc with another fascinating visual study. “A meticulous dissection of image-making and a mapping of its movement through society, directors Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck use a mind-boggling array of archival footage to collage this sociological study by tracking the transmogrification of photographic philosophy and technology over human history.” The festival won’t say it outright, but it sounds like it’s extra critical of our society today. Their shorter description says “the visual sociologist filmmakers widen their lens to expose both humanity’s unique obsession with the camera’s image and the social consequences that lay ahead.” I’m definitely in.

Kim’s Video
Kim's Video
Directed by David Redmon & Ashley Sabin

Any of you remember Kim’s Video? The famous video store in New York City? This documentary is about Kim’s Video, but it seems to be another one of these “stranger than fiction” stories about what happened to Kim’s and all of the 50,000+ movies they used to have. So where did they go? Did this disappear? Are they locked up somewhere? Find out in this documentary film. “In a bid to revitalize tourism, the small Italian village of Salemi, Sicily became home to the archive. But after the initial publicity faded, so too did any sign of the collection. Enter filmmaker David Redmon, who credits Kim’s Video for his film education. With the ghosts of cinema past leading his way, Redmon embarks on a seemingly quixotic quest to track down what happened to the legendary collection and to free it from purgatory.” I’m so curious what he finds over there and Italy and if he can somehow get his hands on all these lost movies. Very curious to see what this shows.

The Eternal Memory
The Eternal Memory
Directed by Maite Alberdi

I am big fan of Chilean director Maite Alberdi’s previous film, The Mole Agent, which ended up with an Oscar nomination in 2021. Alberdi is back at Sundance again with another lovely documentary about elderly people, though this one sounds a bit more heartbreaking and sad. “Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognizes her.” It’s yet another film about Alzheimer’s disease and how harsh it is, especially with this story about a couple. “Day by day, the couple face this challenge head-on, adapting to the disruptions brought on by the taxing disease while relying on the tender affection and sense of humor shared between them that remains intact.” I’m nervous this doc will be really emotional to watch, but I can’t miss it at the fest anyway.

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Directed by Davis Guggenheim

Everyone knows & loves Michael J. Fox! Of course they finally made a documentary about him, and about his struggles with Parkinson’s disease. It’s made by the acclaimed director of the doc films An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman before. “Fox’s improbable story sounds like the stuff of Hollywood, so what better way to tell it than through scenes from his own work, supplemented with stylish recreations? Owning his own narrative, the actor playfully recounts his journey with intimacy, candor, and humor. In the hands of Davis Guggenheim, Still reveals what happens when an eternal optimist confronts an incurable disease.” This will also be sad and tough to watch at times, but I also have a feeling it’s going to lean more into being triumphant and uplifting, as Fox seems like the kind of guy who wants us to be empowered by his story not brought down by it. Looking forward to being at the world premiere of this doc on the weekend.

More Docs I’ll Be Watching: Tracy Droz Tragos’ Plan C, Laura McGann’s The Deepest Breath, Rebecca Landsberry-Baker & Joe Peeler’s journalism film Bad Press, Milisuthando Bongela’s poetic Milisuthando.

For all of Alex’s Sundance 2023 reviews and updates:

For more Sundance 2023 previews around the web, highlighting early picks and potential breakouts, also see: The Film Stage’s 20 Most-Anticipated Premieres, Indiewire’s 27 Must-See Films at This Year’s Festival, Rolling Stone’s 20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at Sundance 2023, and Hidden Remote’s 2023 Sundance most anticipated movies. You never know what might be a big hit, and it’s vital to have a pulse on the early buzz – even before the fest starts. There’s plenty of intriguing films found in the selection this year, tons of discoveries from first time filmmakers and up-and-coming talent, so let’s jump right in and start watching.

You can follow our Sundance 2023 coverage and reviews right here and on Alex’s Letterboxd. The festival begins on January 19th and runs until January 29th, with films premiering online + locally. Glad to be back.

Find more posts: Feat, Indies, Lists, Sundance 23



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