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Abe's Sundance 2019 Wrap

Abe Fried-Tanzer closing out his Sundance coverage for TFE. Thanks, Abe!

Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat in ANIMALS (2019)

The Sundance Film Festival is officially over, closing out a busy week and a half of nonstop movies. I managed to catch 46 titles this year, most of which I enjoyed. Among them were the Grand Jury Prize winners from the U.S. Dramatic Competition, Clemency, and the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, The Souvenir, both of which were written up by Murtada. While I appreciated both of those films, here are my choices for BEST of the fest in various categories... 

Abe's Jury-of-One Top Ten Sundance 2019 Films



Ms Purple, a caretaking family drama set in Koreatown

Best Director: Justin Chon (Ms. Purple)

Best Actor: Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy)

Best Actress: Holliday Grainger (Animals)

Best Supporting Actor: Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco)

Best Supporting Actress: Sydney Sweeney (Big Time Adolescence)

Best Screenplay: Late Night

Best Cinematography: Ms. Purple

Best Ensemble Cast: Monos

British teens in the thrall of Bruce Springsteen? BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

It was also a great year for comedy at the festival so I’d like to include The Farewell, starring Awkwafina, on my 'highly recommended' list, along with Troop Zero and the very popular Blinded by the Light, about a Pakistani teenager in England who is obsessed with Bruce Springsteen.

With many high-profile acquisitions, you can expect to see most of these films soon either at a theater near you or on your screen at home, starting with the heartwarming buddy comedy Paddleton which hits Netflix on Oscar weekend and my top documentary pick, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, premiering at some point on HBO. Sundance was a great and exhausting experience, and we have a fine film year to look forward to if this unofficial start is any indication.  

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Reader Comments (6)

Great write-up.

I know it's early to be asking but do you think any of the films you saw will be troubling the Academy next year?

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Glad to see Florence Pugh's new film on your list. Her performances last year in made-for-TV productions of King Lear and The Little Drummer Girl should have generated much more buzz. Perhaps she'll break out on top from the other starry cast members of Little Women. Equally as talented as similarly-aged Saorise Ronan, she is also able to convey "older", while Ronan is just youthful, no matter the role. Pugh is definitely one to watch. Plus, she is a normal-sized female with curves--so refreshing!

Can't wait for Ms. Purple and Blinded by the Light.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Late Night will probably attract Golden Globe comedy attention (and I wish more than that). Honey Boy might be thrown around as a contender for Shia LaBeouf. The film I think has the strongest shot is Clemency for performers Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge, but ultimately I don't think this Sundance will produce much even though it was a solid festival.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAbe

Abe, what about Danielle Brooks for Supporting Actress for Clemency?

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

The failure of any of the film distributor companies to purchase Sophie Hyde's 'Animals' during Sundance 2019 has to be the festival's lowest point. I don't like it when a film that has critical acclaim attached to it doesn't get a theatrical release deal at a film festival that's supposed to be ensuring it does get seen by cinema audiences. Not only does a snub like that harm its chances of getting released, it's also a setback for the film's director - Sophie Hyde - and its leading ladies - Holliday Grainger & Alia Shawkat. The one hope I'm retaining is that 'Animals' does get acquired by one of the film distribution companies who went there to buy up the movies being screened and premiered there.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWriter71

Michael, Brooks is good but it's a one-scene role and I had to remember exactly who she played for a moment. Unless the movie really takes off, I don't see it happening. Writer71, I loved Animals and I hope it gets picked up too.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAbe

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