The Best Films of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

best of sundance 2015

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival ends Sunday but team /Film is already back in Los Angeles. We were on the ground in Park City for eight days, seeing and reviewing as many movies as possible. While there, our aim is to find the awesome films you’ll want to have on your radar later this year. We think we were successful.

Below, Peter Sciretta, Russ Fischer and I have each ranked every single film we saw. I saw 25, Peter and Russ saw 22. We assigned points to our top films to come up with an overall site ranking. We also came up with a bunch of fun stats to to give you an idea of how huge Sundance is, and how our tastes figure into coverage.

Below, read about the best of Sundance 2015, according to Slashfilm.

There were reportedly 118 feature films that played at Sundance and between the three of us we saw 48. Out of those 48, there were only four movies all three of us saw. Thirteen of them were seen by two of us (two by Peter and Russ, seven by Germain and Peter, and two by Russ and Germain). Then Russ saw 12 movies neither of the other two saw, Germain saw 10 by himself and Peter saw 9.

To make the below list, each of us ranked every single film we saw and we assigned points to the top ten. 10 for first, 9 for second, all the way down. Films that we’d previously seen at other festivals (specifically It Follows and The Tribe) were not counted but most likely would have made this list if we’d seen them at Sundance for the first time. Then, if there was a tie for points, the three of us discussed and agreed on the appropriate ranking. Those ties made the top ten into a top 17.

And here it is. The 17 best films of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, according to Slashfilm. Read that below and then, on the final page, see our full rankings as well as films we each wished we had seen, but missed.

True Story

17. True Story

Though it doesn’t say it at the beginning, True Story is a true story. It’s the story of Mike Finkel, a New York Times reporter who gets oddly drawn into the world of Christian Longo, an Oregon man accused of killing his wife and three children. Playing against their usual types, Jonah Hill plays Finkel and James Franco plays Longo in first time feature director Rupert Gould’s crime mystery that is mostly good, but falls short of its full potential.

That’s an excerpt from Germain’s full review. Read it here.

Prophets Prey

16. Prophet’s Prey

Documentarian Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil, West of Memphis) tells the story of Warren Jeffs, the one-time leader and proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Berg paints this extremist Mormon offshoot is more cult than religion, with an isolationist mentality, systemic abuse of the welfare system, and a reliance on polygamy in which men marry underage women. Berg’s film recounts Warren Jeffs’ takeover of the FLDS leadership from his ailing father in 2002, and the accusations of child sexual abuse and rape that led to his arrest, conviction and life sentence in 2007. A persuasive procedural, the film also features a new score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. (Russ)

Turbo Kid

15. Turbo Kid

Turbo Kid is insane. It’s remarkable that a film like this was produced at all. Imagine what a movie might look like if it came from the mind of a ten-year old kid from the ’80s who is obsessed with Mega Man, and who just saw the Mad Maxmovies for the first time. Take a step further, and picture the film, if it was produced by a competent team of filmmakers with a budget affording that kid access to a good team to create practice special effects and makeup.

That’s an excerpt from Peter’s full review. Read it here.

Mistress America

14. Mistress America

Mistress America is by far [director Noah] Baumbach’s funniest film, anchored by a completely new sort of performance from [Greta] Gerwig, and blessed with a script so smart and sharp, many of the film’s jokes don’t land for a few seconds because A) you’ve never heard anyone say anything like that and B) it’s just so damn intelligent.

That’s an excerpt Germain’s full review. Read it here.

Pervert Park

13. Pervert Park 

This searingly confessional documentary looks at life in a Florida trailer park that is run by and explicitly organized to house sex offenders. Filmmakers Frida Barkfors and Lasse Barkfors interview residents about their crimes and, in many cases, their own abuse. Residents discuss their rehabilitation and their slow efforts to reintegrate into society. Pervert Park is constructed in simple fashion, with little to distract from the deeply personal and troubling interviews. The film challenges viewers to find empathy for even people who have done utterly monstrous things — as these offenders face up to what they’ve done and try to build a life going forward, can we see them as human? (Russ)

Sleeping With Other People

12. Sleeping With Other People 

Sleeping With Other People is a hilarious sex obsessed When Harry Met Sally. The story follows a “good-natured womanizer and a serial cheater form a platonic relationship that helps reform them in ways, while a mutual attraction sets in.” You might recall that I wasn’t a fan of director Leslye Headland’s debut film Bachelorette (which played the 2012 Sundance Film Festival) because the film was a cesspool of huge assholes and the extremely stupid. The characters in Sleeping With Other People are still assholes but the story has enough heart that you become invested. Alison Brie is great in the film, and this is Jason Sudeikis’ best big screen performance to date. The romcom formula may seem familiar but the execution makes Sleeping With Other People one of the best romanic comedies in the last couple years. (Peter)

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