In 2014, it gave us ‘Boyhood’, and last year ‘Brooklyn’. This year’s Sundance Film Festival is shaping up to be a winner – packed with indie gems that will be trickling into our cinemas over the next 12 months. Kenneth Lonergan's mighty grief drama ‘Manchester by the Sea’ pummelled audiences in wintery Utah (and we’ll eat our snow-boots if it doesn’t top film critics’ best-of-2016 lists). Elsewhere, indie auteurs unveiled their strongest work in decades. Here are the five movies we've loved so far (with more to come over the next week).
The best movies at Sundance 2016
The parents of two young boys fight over the ownership of a Brooklyn building in Ira Sachs's moving and sharply observed New York drama of gentrification and friendship. ‘Little Men’ has the same tender ear for truth and city life as Sachs’s 2014 drama ‘Love Is Strange’, this time with a greater emphasis on the kids.
The cattier side of Jane Austen comes out to play in this adaptation of a lesser-known novel (‘Lady Susan’), which marks a total return to form for ‘The Last Days of Disco’ director Whit Stillman. Kate Beckinsale is terrific as the movie's eighteenth-century society schemer. Witty and winning.
Like ‘Boyhood’ in 2014, this is the sensation of the festival (and a movie that already feels like a classic). Kenneth Lonergan's New England-set drama – about a man coping with buried trauma – had audiences in tears and on their feet giving standing ovations. And with his stunning lead performance, Casey Affleck joins the ranks of giants.
Todd Solondz, that chronicler of loners and misfits, continues his career-long plunge into the dark side of human nature with this fierce, sneakily profound tale about a dachshund and the neurotics who care for it (not always well). It's Solondz's sharpest commentary on human mortality and regret to date.