The 9 Best Movies We Saw at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival
The 2022 Sundance Film Festival has come to a close after its second consecutive virtual run, enabling audiences to dodge the Utah cold and catch a movie (or, in my case, 32) from home.
Still, no need to fret if you skipped the festival this year — dozens of films have already been acquired by distributors and are on their way to a theater (or streaming service) near you. Read on for a recap of our festival favorites.
The Worst Person in the World (in theaters in LA and NY Feb. 4, expanding Feb. 11)
The final chapter in Joachim Trier's loosely connected Oslo trilogy follows Julie (the fantastic Renate Reinsve, who picked up the prestigious Best Actress award at Cannes for her performance) through the changing ambitions and relationships of her young adulthood. Structured like a novel, with a prologue, 12 chapters, and an epilogue, the film redefines and elevates what most American viewers would call a rom-com — perhaps it would be better described as a romantic epic?
Fresh (Hulu, March 4)
The oft-typecast Sebastian Stan and Normal People star Daisy Edgar-Jones prove their range in this inventive melding of romance and horror. There isn't much I can say without spoiling a very dark surprise, but just know that Fresh's title describes more than its Rotten Tomatoes score …
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack lead this charming film about a middle-aged widow looking to check a few items off her sexual bucket list — enter: a sex worker who goes by the entirely made-up name Leo Grande. Yes, the action (pun intended) is mostly confined to a hotel room, but the power of the film's lived-in performances save it from ever feeling too small.
jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Netflix, Feb. 16)
While you may think you know everything there is to know about the rapper, mogul, and self-proclaimed god, there's something unexpectedly intimate about watching a pre-fame "Ye" navigate the industry, buoyed by the unrelenting confidence that has since become his trademark. The three-part series — dubbed a "three-week event" — is comprised of more than two decades' worth of raw footage gathered in part due to the foresight of co-director Clarence "Coodie" Simmons, who had a hunch that his friend, then an up-and-coming producer, would prove himself a worthy subject.
Cha Cha Real Smooth
Writer, director, and star Cooper Raiff shines alongside Dakota Johnson in this unconventional coming-of-age film about a recent college grad ambling through early adulthood (and several bar mitzvahs — he's a party starter). AppleTV+ secured the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award-winner for $15 million, the highest Sundance acquisition of 2022. And yes, if you've attended a middle or high school dance since the dawn of the millennium, the title means what you think it means.
Master (Prime Video, March 18)
At first glimpse, the Ivy League campus-set horror film appears to fall into the genre of race horror first defined by Get Out. But with chilling twists and standout performances from Regina Hall and Zoe Renee, Master carves out a space all of its own.
This Finnish entry in the overcrowded coming-of-age subgenre is skillful in its depiction of teen relationships and sexuality, careful not to objectify its characters but equally careful to portray them in an honest and uninhibited manner. It's refreshing to see onscreen teens move and explore in such a way, unshackled by societal norms and judgments. It's a must-see, but don't just take my word for it — Girl Picture (Tytöt tytöt tytöt) won over festival viewers, earning the Audience Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category.
Emily the Criminal
Aubrey Plaza strikes indie gold once more in this dark comedy-cum-heist that feels, in the absolute best way, like a narrativized rebuttal of the anti-piracy PSA that still rattles around many a millennial brain. "You wouldn't steal a car" — well, have you seen my student loan statements?
Speak No Evil
Vacation horror at what is possibly its most horrific? Director Christian Tafdrup said he and his brother (co-writer Mads Tafdrup) set out to craft "the most unpleasant experience for an audience, ever" and let me tell you, they succeeded. The burn is so deceptively slow that it might take a while to realize there's even a fire, but rest assured, no one's safe from the flames. Shudder acquired the rights ahead of the film's Sundance premiere and it's set for a late 2022 launch.