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The Best Movies We Saw at Sundance 2021

Of the more than 70 features at the festival, these are our favorites, including the latest from Ben Wheatley and the first from Questlove.
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Sundance Institute (Photo by Jonathan Hickerson)
By  · Published on February 6th, 2021


Sundance 2021: Superior
Sundance Institute

Superior is a quirky, twee, and awkward story of identical twins, Marian and Vivian (Alessandra Mesa and Ani Mesa). As the sisters begin to spend time together for the first time in six years, they slowly begin to influence each other’s behavior. But Marian has a secret that she is running from that Vivian is completely unaware of.

Visually, Superior is stunning. The bright reds and blues that appear in the set design and wardrobe are evidence of a specific yet enticing aesthetic. While its odd pacing might be a turnoff for some viewers, Superior felt made just for me. Plus, the soft grain of the 16 mm used by cinematographer Mia Cioffi Henry to capture this unique story is just the cherry on top. Honestly, this is the film I’m most looking forward to watching again. (Shea Vassar)

Check out Mary Beth’s review of Superior.


Sundance 2021: Violation
Sundance Institute

Hoo boy. Ostensibly an entry in the rape/revenge subgenre, the feature debut from writers/directors Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer has far more on its mind than catharsis and exploitative thrills. Sims-Fewer also stars as a young woman who reacts to a traumatic incident with methodical violence and arguably a little bit of madness. Well, more than a little bit, as her descent is captured in unflinching detail from murder on through to a delightfully grimace-worthy final frame. The film’s jumbled timeframe, moving around before, during, and after the inciting event, does the film no favors, but its raw power and end takeaway land with the desired effect. Grim themes, gory dismemberment, and a bobbing boner make this not for the faint of heart, but if you can stomach it all, it’s a dark gem worth devouring. (Rob Hunter)

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

We're All Going To The Worlds Fair

Horror movies have thrived exploring all manner of urban legends over the years, and the past decade has seen them shift to include internet legends as well. That “creepypasta” formula — stories, legends, and supernatural warnings recorded and shared online — gets its best representation yet with writer/director Jane Schoenbrun’s narrative debut. It follows a lonely teen who takes the “World’s Fair Challenge” that supposedly changes people in weird ways. Anna Cobb plays the lead and manages to be as terrifying as she is heart-breaking with a character so desperately in need of something or someone that she spirals under the guise of playing a fun online game. The film’s observations on our increasingly isolated reality are sadly accurate, leading to an emotionally devastating truth for its characters and viewers alike. (Rob Hunter)

Wild Indian

Sundance 2021: Wild Indian
Sundance Institute

Lyle Mitchell Corbine’s first feature lives up to the hype. Wild Indian is a slow-burn look at the Native experience with incredible performances from the two main men, Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer as cousins and former childhood friends whose dark secret brings them together decades later. Their lives are completely opposite but the burden they have both silently carried is slowly coming to the surface, creating an on-screen tension. Corbine’s ability to pull from his personal experiences as a Native artist to create such deep character studies is evident and perfected through the cast’s performance. I can’t wait for more people to see this revolutionary thriller. (Shea Vassar)

Check out Shea’s review of Wild Indian.

Read more of our Sundance 2021 coverage here.

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