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February 9, 2023


The 2023 Sundance Film Festival has wrapped up, and this year, I had the pleasure of attending in person for the first time. There was quite an array of films premiering, from crowd-pleaser comedies to heavy character dramas, and while I only attended four days of the 11-day festival, I was still able to see a nice collection of films. Of course, there were a few movies I wish I had been able to see, like Shortcomings and The Persian Version but I was simply unable to due to time constraints. Still, with this being my first Sundance, I consider it a success. Park City, Utah, is a lovely place full of amazing people, and the experience I had is one I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to return next year!

Below, you’ll find my official ranking of everything I was able to see at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival:


It certainly says something about the quality of films I saw that my least favorite film is one that I don’t even dislike. I just don’t love it. Eileen initially captivated me with its central relationship, which is elevated by the chemistry between and performances of Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie. The pacing is a little rough, but it’s interesting enough, and it’s complemented with appealing cinematography and a score that I don’t think is getting enough attention.

However, the third act takes one of the biggest left turns in recent memory. A single sentence is uttered, and the entire movie shifts completely – not to the point that it makes the movie bad, but it made me wonder, “then why did I watch the first two acts?” There are ways to go from tender to intense in an organic way, but this movie doesn’t pull it off.

Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, and Shea Whigham

Director: William Oldroyd

Release Date: TBD



Before I get into my issues with Magazine Dreams, let me get this out first: Jonathan Majors is fantastic. He alone is worth the price of admission because he’s so committed to the role of a broken man constantly pushing himself closer to the edge of his own sanity. He pulls it off in a way that’s mortifying while still managing to keep you on his side. The movie itself does a good job of making things uncomfortable yet entertaining, but unfortunately, it never rises to Majors’ level despite director Elijah Bynum setting a tone that feels like Taxi Driver meets Whiplash.

The film’s main failing comes from the script. There are too many moments where Bynum was seemingly going for disturbing, yet they wound up being unintentionally funny. I also don’t think the results of all the bad hands dealt to Majors’ character were organic, so it had me questioning a lot of the extreme choices he made in the final act. Honestly, if it weren’t for Majors giving a career-best performance, I might’ve started laughing at a lot of the creative decisions. Still, let me reiterate: Majors made this a mostly worthwhile experience, but I left Magazine Dreams feeling like it’s a wash.

Starring: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Michael O’Hearn, Harrison Page, and Harriet Sansom Harris

Director: Elijah Bynum

Release Date: TBD



Now, we start getting to the good stuff! To be frank, I wasn’t planning to watch A Thousand and One simply because it wasn’t on my radar, so I went in completely blind. At the start, I was unimpressed, with thoughts of “oh boy” and “I’ve seen this before” crossing my mind. It also didn’t help that there are plenty of moments throughout where you can tell this is A.V. Rockwell’s directorial debut, especially with the editing choices. However, fairly quickly, I got much more emotionally invested in what was happening on screen, and by the end, I was devastated.

Ultimately, this film rides on the shoulders of Teyana Taylor’s performance, and never once in the entire film does she miss a beat as a poor woman navigating obstacle after obstacle. There is a twist at the end that I thought was about to ruin everything, but Rockwell managed to turn it into one of the most powerful finales I could have asked for.

Starring: Teyana Taylor, William Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aaron Kingsley Adetola, and Aven Courtney

Director: A.V. Rockwell

Release Date: March 31, 2023



Cat Person is inevitably going to be divisive, but I come down on the positive side. I can certainly see where some criticisms are coming from because it does ultimately go off the rails while featuring some questionable editing choices. Still, I was quite into the anti-chemistry that Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun have together. From the get-go, you just feel that these two characters do not belong together, which pushes itself to its logical conclusion in ways that are both nightmarish and very real.

Since I didn’t read the short story this movie is based on, I can’t make comparative statements in that regard; however, the movie succeeds in examining modern relationships and how they are intertwined with toxic masculinity. It’s told in ways that are uncomfortably frightening in one moment and gut-busting hilarious in the next. It won’t work for everybody, but this has stuck with me ever since I saw it.

Starring: Emilia Jones, Nicholas Braun, Geraldine Viswanathan, Hope Davis, Fred Melamed, and Isabella Rossellini

Director: Susanna Fogel

Release Date: TBD



If I’m being honest, I don’t have anything deep to say about Theater Camp. I just loved it, plain and simple. It’s a light-hearted film that only wants you to have a good time, which it definitely succeeds at. I was laughing constantly throughout the film, thanks not only to the funny writing, but also the cast. The kids especially are hysterical.

That said, I was a theater kid growing up, so there are a lot of inside jokes for people like me. I would recommend this movie to everyone, though. Even the ending, which is so cheesy, really works to give a nice finale that tugs at the heartstrings. Overall, Theater Camp was amongst the most endearing films at the festival.

Starring: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris, Caroline Aaron, Nathan Lee Graham, Owen Thiele, Alan Kim, Kyndra Sanchez, Luke Islam, Bailee Bonick, and Alexander Bello

Director: Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman

Release Date: TBD



The first film I saw at the festival was probably the toughest watch, and I mean that in all the best ways possible. Initially, I was in the headspace of “why am I watching this?” before it quickly reveals itself to be a harrowing character study of a trio of characters: Haider (played incredibly by Ali Junejo), his wife (a scene stealing Rasti Farooq), and his transgender boss & love interest (Alina Khan).

The film explores queer identity in Pakistan as well as generational and cultural trauma. By the end, it punched me square in the gut thanks to the outstanding screenplay by Maggie Briggs and director Sam Sadiq. I also can’t forget to mention just how amazing the cinematography by Joe Saade is.

Starring: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sohail Sameer, and Sania Saeed

Director: Saim Sadiq

Release Date: TBD



The final film I saw at Sundance was also my most anticipated of the festival. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. I’m a huge fan of director John Carney, and once again, he dives into the idea that music can heal broken relationships and yourself, albeit not in ways that exceed his previous efforts. That said, Flora and Son is still a lovely film with a really strong heart.

By the end, I think I fell in love with Eve Hewson. She oozes so much charm and likability that even the crassest lines come off as endearing. The relationship between her character and her character’s son is definitely the highlight, starting initially as a toxic bond that eventually makes way for love in a way that only Carney is capable of pulling off.

Starring: Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, and Jack Reynor

Director: John Carney

Release Date: TBD



Rye Lane is, far and away, the most unique film I saw at Sundance. The deceptively simple premise makes way for director Raine Allen Miller to create some of the most interesting directorial choices imaginable. It’s a movie filled to the brim with style and creativity, not to mention one hilarious cameo that I didn’t even pick up on until the second shot. By the way, did I mention that this is Allen Miller’s directorial debut? It’s tremendous.

David Johnson and Vivian Oparah make for an endearing lead duo because their chemistry is as palpable as it is hilarious. This movie will make you laugh, not just because of the obvious jokes, but also the background gags, subtle jabs, and blink-and-you'll-miss-it references that Allen Miller placed throughout the film. Truly, it’s a delightful film that, if it wasn’t for one other film I saw, would’ve easily been my favorite of the festival.

Starring: David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah

Director: Raine Allen Miller

Release Date: March 31, 2023



I was lucky enough to be at the premiere for this film, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that I ran straight from this to Magazine Dreams, I would’ve joined in giving Past Lives the big standing ovation it deserves. I was genuinely blown away by the poignancy of this film. It tackles themes of cultural differences, but in a more personal way by examining how human beings seek connection to one another and handle fate.

Absolute kudos to writer/director Celine Song on her breathtaking accomplishment here, as well as to the spectacular cast, led to perfection by Greta Lee and Teo Yoo. The final scene between those two is something that I will not soon forget, and it struck such a nerve in me that I was both heartbroken and relieved at the same time. A perfect movie, truly.

Starring: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro

Director: Celine Song

Release Date: TBD

Photo Credits: Sundance Film Festival

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