5 Movies from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival We Still Can’t Forget

Sundance Film Festival 2019 is opening today, once again gathering hardcore independent movie fans from all around the world. No wonder — after all, it is a place where the cult movie Usual Suspects made us desperate to know who is Keyser Söze, where passion of Elio and Oliver in Call Me By Your Name started its journey towards Oscars and where 500 Days of Summer made the difference between a love story and a story about love very clear.

Last January, almost 125 000 attendees visited Utah for 10 days packed with promising indie films. Quite a few of them were applauded by the critics throughout the whole year, and some we still can’t get over.

Let’s take a look back on the movies which passed the test of time, worth watching before the 2019 Sundance releases hit your screens.



  • An intimate look at a bond between a daughter and a father living off the grid
  • Incredible performances: Ben Foster and a breakout star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie
  • Many nominations and wins, including three noms for Film Independent Spirit Awards
  • An exceptional 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, 88% on Metacritic

What’s the story?

Will (Foster), a war veteran suffering from PTSD, lives with his teenage daughter Tom (Harcourt McKenzie) hidden in the woods, rarely visiting the “civilized” world. Their existence is peaceful, ritualized, yet you can clearly feel Will’s anxiety. The love between the two living in perfect sync doesn’t need words to be expressed.

They were bound to get picked up by the police one day, and as that happens, it’s almost too easy to empathize with the duo and their desire to remain cut off from society. When forced to live like the rest of us, under a roof with daily routines revolving around jobs, schools, and chores, Will’s despair is matched by Tom’s curiosity. The social worker’s warning: “It’s important to follow through in order for you guys to remain independent,” might be nothing short of ironic for Will, but Tom seems to understand. And Tom tries: standing next to a beehive with bees all over her, she carefully hints how good it feels when she’s trusted by creatures that could kill her. Her: “See? You don’t need to be scared,” is not enough though, and their story with a whole spectrum of emotions bubbling just under the surface inevitably ends with Tom having to choose between her father and her own path.



What’s the story?

It’s a pretty straightforward movie about vengeance… Except it’s so packed with mysticism, surreal imagery and absurdity that it elevated a simple premise into an experience impossible to shake off. Everyone talked about Nicolas Cage who was (literally) bloody brilliant in the role of Red: a man gone borderline insane after the murder of his girlfriend by a Charles Manson-like cult. “I was fascinated by the fantasy aspect of revenge,” explained Cage for IndieWire’s Sundance Studio. And what an epic revenge he gets: Red goes on a cocaine-fueled, vodka-soaked, axe– and a chainsaw-armed rampage. Hard to believe this gem was made with an estimated budget of mere 6 million USD!



  • “WTF Movie of the Year” according to IndieWire
  • As the director Boots Riley shared on Twitter, it is “an absurdist dark comedy with magical realism and science fiction inspired by the world of telemarketing.”
  • Competed for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance
  • 92% on Rotten Tomatoes80% on Metacritic

What’s the story?

When you can’t afford to pay rent — not even for a garage with a door that randomly opens while you’re trying to sleep with your girlfriend (Tessa Thompson) — you’d do anything for a job. Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) becomes a telemarketer repeating his “Sorry to bother you?” script on the phone endlessly and fruitlessly. Everything changes once his co-worker advises him to ditch his Afro-American voice for a “white” one (dubbed perfectly by David Cross).

Climbing the career ladder all the way up and transforming into a charming, filthy rich, albeit immoral power caller, Cash seems to lose a lot more than just his voice. Somewhere in the middle, you feel like this movie couldn’t be a more crazy, hilarious, exaggerated criticism of social injustice and capitalist exploitation. That’s when human-horse mutants appear along with a lunatic cocaine-snorting CEO, and you find yourself watching a TV show I Got the Shit Kicked Out of Me where participants get voluntarily beaten up. Trust us, it’s unlikely you’ll ever forget this film. “It’s an indictment of how capitalism crushes creativity,” concluded Boots Riley for The Washington Post.


What’s the story?

We meet Annie (Collette), an artist crafting incredibly detailed miniature houses, at the time she loses her mother: a woman she clearly wasn’t very fond of. She lives with her psychiatrist husband (Gabriel Byrne), stoner teenage son (Alex Wolff), and a shy daughter Charlie (Miley Shapiro) whose behaviour becomes increasingly creepy ever since grandma died. The more you find yourself entangled in this family’s string of tragedies and inexplicable occurrences, the more you feel like the characters are as helpless towards higher forces as the little dolls in Annie’s houses.

After Charlie’s gruesome death, Annie takes matters into her own hands when she attempts a seance to communicate with the dead. Needless to say, things take a very bloody, supernatural turn that will probably haunt you for a while.



What’s the story?

While this might be the most subtle movie on this list, there’s a whole world quietly crumbling down right in front of a 14-year old Joe (Ed Oxenbould). His mother (Carey Mulligan), Jeanette, is the rock of a family moving from one place to another as Joe’s father (Jake Gyllenhaal) is incapable of keeping a job. A former carefree pageant queen turned housewife finally cracks when Jerry suddenly leaves to fight dangerous wildfires in the mountains.

Through Joe’s eyes, we observe what happens when a woman who feels trapped surrenders to her survival instinct. Jeanette finds a way out of uncertainty the only way she knows how: she throws herself at the wealthiest man around and seduces him literally in front of her own confused child. Jeanette’s character is intensely complex, both desperate and heroic, fighting for a future no matter how twisted her decisions may seem.

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