15-Second Reviews Of All The Movies We Saw At The 2017 Sundance Film Festival

The /Film team of Angie Han, Ethan Anderton, and myself have returned from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Over the six days we were in Park City, we screened over 36 movies (with only one movie having been watched by all three of us). Here are 15-second capsule reviews of all the movies we saw at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

2017 Sundance Film Festival Review Round-up

78/52

78/52

Ethan: The nerdiest of film documentaries, this dives deep into the meaning, making, and cultural significance of the iconic shower scene featuring commentary from all sorts of filmmakers. I could watch a doc like this about all the various iconic scenes in movies and never be bored.

A Ghost Story Review

A Ghost Story

Ethan: A bold rumination on mortality, time and legacy. Slow but totally disarming. Provocative and depressing. It requires great patience but the payoff is well worth it.

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL TRUTH TO POWER

An Inconvenient Sequel

Peter: If An Inconvenient Truth was an eye-opening disaster movie, then An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power is the heartbreaking post-apocalyptic follow-up. It is equal parts depressing, infuriating, inspiring and stressful. But the film isn't without a tinge of hope. You can read my full Inconvenient Sequel review here.

Ethan: Another wake-up call for climate change deniers who keep hitting the snooze button. Al Gore's passion is undeniable, and he really gets worked up this time rather than trying to tell us delicately about this issue that isn't just about saving the planet, but saving lives and helping developing nations.

band aid

Band Aid

Peter: A sweet heartfelt film about the psychology of a troubled relationship and the attempt to start a band to save it. My only complaint is that I wish there were more songs in this film.

Ethan: A strong directorial debut by Zoe Lister-Jones, who also turns in an outstanding lead performance alongside the charismatic Adam Pally. Some great songs and a hilarious supporting turn by Fred Armisen.

Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz at Dinner

Angie: I couldn't quite get into the rhythm of Beatriz at Dinner, which mixes drama, satire, and sociopolitical commentary. But it's hard to ignore how depressingly relevant it is. Salma Hayek plays an odd but idealistic healer who grows increasingly agitated over the course of a dinner party, with particular fury directed at a Trumpish developer played by John Lithgow.

Before I Fall

Before I Fall

Peter: I enjoyed the second half of Before I Fall way more than the first. The premise is basically Groundhog Day meets a drama version of Mean Girls. But unlike in that teen classic, it's hard to like any of the main characters in this movie, and the time loop beats don't stray far from the formula we've seen before. The ending is mind-blowingly stupid.

Angie: Zoey Deutch is going to be a big, big star. I've said it before and I believe it more than ever after Before I Fall. But she probably deserved better than this tepid material. The premise seems half-baked (the ending is especially silly), with thinly drawn characters who never transcend their stereotypes and groanworthy plot beats we can see coming from a mile away.

Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome

Angie: Berlin Syndrome takes a while to build, but eventually adds up to a tense captive drama that digs deep into the uncomfortable psychological dynamic between abductor and abductee. Teresa Palmer is compelling at Clare, adeptly cycling through her character's shifting mindsets, and Max Riemelt is frighteningly good at weaponizing his charisma. I just wish I'd seen this one under better circumstances. Read my full Berlin Syndrome review.

bitch

Bitch

Peter: I saw over a dozen films at this year's Sundance and Bitch was by far the worst. The film follows a wife who has a psychotic break and begins to believe she is a dog. The description is far more entertaining than the movie, which just has so many annoying cracks in it. Jason Ritter and Jaime King are both good in this movie, but they are not enough to save this premise.

Angie: I'll say this: I was never bored. But I don't know that I was ever that enthralled, either. The attention-grabbing premise — an unhappy housewife starts to think she's a dog — turns out to be just a catalyst for an overfamiliar tale of a workaholic man who learns to value his family, and the tone veers all over the place without ever settling into anything all that interesting.

Brigsby Bear Review

Brigsby Bear

Peter: Produced by the Lonely Island crew and Phil Lord and Chris Miller, this film is hilarious, full of heart, and unlike anything you've ever seen. A story about the healing power of storytelling and the wonder of filmmaking.

Ethan: A wonderful movie about the power of storytelling. A truly original story with a fake children's TV series at the center that you wish was real. This feels like the movie Kyle Mooney was born to make, full of charm, hysterical comedy, and cinematic magic. Fans of Mark Hamill's voice work will love what he gets to do in this movie too. Read my full Brigsby Bear review here.

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name

Angie: An exquisite tale of sexual awakening and first love, Call Me By Your Name has stayed with me like a late-summer sunburn. Luca Guadagnino demonstrates once again that there are few directors as sensual as he is — you can practically smell the peach trees in the breeze and feel the sweat drying on your skin. Timothée Chalamet gives a star-is-born performance as Elio, all the way through the tremendous final shot. Read my full review of Call Me By Your Name.

Ethan: A beautiful, moving story of sexual awakening and identity. A staggering romance that proudly brings young Timothée Chalamet onto the scene in a big way, but don't sleep on Michael Stuhlbarg's supporting performance either.

colossal

Colossal

Ethan: I love how this movie takes typical indie tropes like returning home from the big city, break-ups, romance, alcoholism and abuse and gives them a fascinating, funny and original sci-fi twist. Anne Hathaway is fantastic and Jason Sudeikis gives one of this best performances to date.

Angie: You've never seen anything like Nacho Vigalondo's monster movie, which kept me guessing throughout. It's part Drinking Buddies, part Smashed, part Godzilla, peppered with some smart feminist commentary. Jason Sudeikis is especially good here, pushing his "charming dick" persona to its jagged edge. Read my full review of Colossal from TIFF.

Columbus

Columbus

Angie: Columbus is slow and subtle, almost to a fault, but I came away feeling like I'd been given a sweet treat to savor. John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson are quietly magnificent as two strangers who strike up an unexpected friendship in an unusual town, and writer-director Kogonada gives them the time and space they need to unfold. Read my full review of Columbus.

Crown Heights

Crown Heights

Angie: The plot of Crown Heights is powerful — it's based on the true tale of a young man who spends 20 years behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of murder. But its execution is sorely lacking, leaving us with what feels like the Wikipedia version of the story. Its only saving grace is Lakeith Stanfield, whose lead performance is so soulful that he almost convinces you this is a good movie.

Continue reading our 2017 Sundance Film Festival reviews by clicking the link below.

get out

Get Out

Peter: Jordan Peele's impressive directorial debut Get Out, a Blumhouse-produced horror movie, takes on the monster of racism in modern times. Imagine Meet the Parents mixed with The Stepford Wives. It's smart, visceral, thrilling and, of course, funny. Read my full Get Out review.

Gook

Gook

Angie: Writer-director-star Justin Chon takes a slice-of-life approach to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, following a day in the life of two Korean-American brothers who spend the day alternately serving customers at their shoe store, bickering with one another, and hanging out with the young black girl (Simone Baker) who always seems to be around. It doesn't always work, but enough of it does to make me wonder what Chon will do next.

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore Trailer

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Peter: A suburban revenge comedy with reluctant badass Melanie Lynskey teamed with a nerdy Napoleon Dynamite/Foot Fist Way-like badass played by Elijah Wood. The tone of the film fluctuates between heartfelt comedy and violent revenge thriller, and sometimes that feels a bit jarring.

Ethan: Darkly funny, brutally violent revenge. Melanie Lynskey is an irresistibly charming vigilante, Elijah Wood makes for a kick-ass weirdo and Macon Blair shows promise as a writer and director. Read my full review.

Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes West

Peter: My second favorite film of this year's fest. A hilarious dark comedy version of Single White Female, it stars Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen and is set in the age of social media idolatry. Not just your average comedy film, but a smart commentary on our social media obsessed world. The surprise breakout performance of the film comes from O'Shea Jackson Jr. Read my full Ingrid Goes West review.

Ethan: An Instagram-age Talented Mr. Ripley/Single White Female that takes a funny approach to the stalker storyline, but doesn't quite dig as deep as it should in order to have substantial meaning. Still, it's a solid, twisted comedy featuring a solid lead performance by Aubrey Plaza, and stellar supporting turns from Elizabeth Olsen and O'Shea Jackson Jr., proving that he'll have a bright future ahead of him in acting.

LA Times

L.A. Times

Peter: L.A. Times was one of my most anticipated movies of this year's Sundance and was by far the biggest disappointment. It feels like a movie about Los Angeles made by people from New York City. I also violently disagree with the apparent message of this film which is that we are all just settling.

Landline

Landline

Ethan: An honest portrayal of a dysfunctional family struggling to stay together. Shows each character's flaws and charms, which can sometimes be grating, but is more often endearing. It's almost like a spiritual sequel to Obvious Child about how hard it can be to keep a relationship stable. Jenny Slate is wonderful as always, but Abby Quinn is the standout.

Angie: As a huge fan of Gillian Robespierre's Obvious Child, I really, really wanted to love Landline. Alas, I could not. Everyone in this movie is so self-evidently miserable that I found it difficult to root for them, and its supposedly happy ending seems oddly naive and conservative. On the bright side, the relatively unknown Abby Quinn really seems like she's going places.

lemon

Lemon

Peter: Another one of those "look at how crazy those people in LA are" movies that doesn't quite connect. One of the worst movies I saw at the festival.

Marjorie Prime

Marjorie Prime

Angie: Marjorie Prime is based on a play, feels like a play, and seems like it probably would've been better off left as a play. Despite an intriguing Black Mirror-esque premise and strong performances from its central cast (Lois Smith, Geena Davis, Jon Hamm, and Tim Robbins), the film comes out feeling static and distant.

Ethan: An interesting sci-fi concept is used in an attempt at moving character drama, but it's a bit of a slog and never really makes a personal connection.

Mudbound

Mudbound

Angie: Dee Rees' Southern epic might feel a bit too novelistic at times, but her patience proves to be a virtue when everything comes to a head in the third act. Jason Mitchell and Carey Mulligan are as fine as you'd expect, and Garrett Hedlund has probably never been better. The real revelation, though, is Mary J. Blige, who is downright unrecognizable as a gritty matriarch. Read my full review of Mudbound.

Ethan: A harrowing, relentless drama that is chock full of Oscar-worthy performances with the most noteworthy coming from Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige and, surprisingly, Garrett Hedlund. For being Dee Rees' third film, this is an impressive Southern epic full of pure emotion, even if it's a bit clunky to start with.

newness

Newness

Ethan: Director Drake Doremus heads back into familiar problematic romance territory, this time with a modern dating twist. Raw, emotional performances from Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa make it more captivating (and sexier) than it otherwise might be.

Nobody Speak Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Trials of a Free Press

Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press

Peter: Brian Knappenberger's timely documentary about how the Gawker lawsuit might lead to the loss of free press in the United States. It's an informative, fascinating, and terrifying look at how people with big pockets and large power can silence media. Read my full Nobody Speak review .

Ethan: This may be the most timely and relevant documentary at Sundance. It's an infuriating look at the lurking menace, both in politics and in business, that threatens free press. A must-see piece of non-fiction cinema.

The third and final page follows, click the link below.

Novitiate

Novitiate

Angie: Novitiate wants to do so many things, but as a result, it doesn't do any of those things particularly well. Writer-director Maggie Betts follows several characters over several years, hitting upon a young girl's religious awakening and the rigors of nun training and the impact of Vatican II and sexual repression within the Catholic church and so on and so forth. I wish Betts had either picked one thread and stuck with it for 90 minutes, or, conversely, expanded her film into a full-fledged television show where all her characters and storylines would've had room to breathe.

Person to Person

Person to Person

Peter: I really did not like this film, which is a surprise because I usually love ensemble character dramas set over the course of one day. That said, Tavi Gevinson should get some bigger movies out of this.

The Big Sick

The Big Sick

Peter: This is my favorite film of Sundance 2017. This is the type of film I come to Park City hoping I'll see. A love story, based on Kumail Nanjiani's real-life experience, that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. An amazing supporting cast which includes Zoe Kazan and Ray Romano. My only complaint is the third act feels longer than it should be.

Ethan: I don't remember the last time a movie made me laugh so hard and shed so many tears as this impressive latest film from Michael Showalter. Kumail Nanjiani gives an outstanding performance that has all the charisma and authenticity of Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, and Zoe Kazan is perfect. Read my full review of The Big Sick.

Angie: If you mostly known Kumail Nanjiani from Silicon Valley, you might be surprised to discover he makes for a very good romantic lead. Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon wrote The Big Sick based on their own real-life experience of their early courtship and her untimely illness (Zoe Kazan plays her in the movie), and that fact seems to give the film a touching authenticity.

the discovery trailer

The Discovery

Ethan: Thought-provoking, fascinating and captivating, this movie is like Flatliners, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Primer all rolled into one. Jason Segel has never done anything like this, and it's quite a trip. Read my full review of The Discovery.

Jessica Williams in The Incredible Jessica James

The Incredible Jessica James

Ethan: This is essentially Jessica Williams' own Trainwreck, but it's even more authentic and charming. A lovely touching and hilarious romantic comedy featuring a star-making, breakthrough performance by Williams and some heartwarming chemistry with the wonderful Chris O'Dowd.

Angie: Sometimes, all you want is a fun, fizzy romcom about two likable people being likable together. When you do, reach for The Incredible Jessica James. Chris O'Dowd is an even more attractive version of his Bridesmaids character, and The Daily Show's Jessica Williams makes a strong case for movie stardom in her first real lead role. Read my full review of The Incredible Jessica James.

The Polka King

The Polka King

Ethan: This one is like a goofy, Polish Wolf of Wall Street, but it's nowhere near as compelling and never really goes anywhere remarkable. Jack Black brings energy to the role, but it's Jacki Weaver who comes out on top in an outstanding supporting role.

The Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds

Angie: Alden Ehrenreich is the biggest draw and the biggest highlight of Alexandre Moors' thoughtful war drama, which offers a good hard look at the true cost of battle for the soldiers on the ground and their loved ones back home. As fascinating as I found The Yellow Birds in the moment, though, it faded from my memory relatively quickly. Read my full review of The Yellow Birds.

Their Finest

Their Finest

Ethan: Sappier than a maple tree. But the laughs and sniffles from the audience indicates it's still a crowd-pleaser. It doesn't effectively balance its light comedy with the serious war drama, but Bill Nighy steals the movie and Jake Lacy steals some scenes for sure.

Tokyo Idols

Tokyo Idols

Peter: Tokyo Idols is a fascinating must-see documentary which explores the disturbing world of super fandom in the Japanese idol scene. The film uses the idol framework to explain the psychological and cultural intricacies of modern day Japan. It's a fascinating look at a different culture, where women are tasked with winning male admiration, and where innocence, cuteness, and virginity are objectified and valued. Read my full Tokyo Idols review.

When The Street Lights Go On

When the Street Lights Go On

Peter: One of the best things I saw at Sundance this year was actually a TV pilot. Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Brett Morgen, this coming-of-age story is set in the summer of 1983 and tells the story a boy who discovers two dead bodies in the woods and the murder investigation that follows. It's very cinematically shot, with a Stand By Me meets Virgin Suicide vibe, and features an amazing soundtrack of classic '80s pop songs and some promising performances from a largely young cast. Read my full When The Street Lights Go On review.

Wind River Review

Wind River

Peter: An impressive directorial debut for Taylor Sheridan, but not as nuanced or enthralling as his previous screenplays for Hell or High Water and Sicario. Jeremy Renner delivers a career-best performance. The crime procedural story is not as great as the thrilling snow-set action scenes they lead to.

Ethan: Jeremy Renner has never been better in Taylor Sheridan's directorial debut, which is essentially the same kind of movie as Hell or High Water, just set in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. Not quite as captivating or polished as Sheridan's other work, but it still delivers some solid thrills and action. Read my full Wind River review.

xx

XX

Peter: I love the idea of this movie, a horror anthology written and directed by four female filmmakers. Unfortunately, I didn't find a single one of the segments to be anything special. Melanie Lynskey is misused and while I didn't like the story in Roxanne Benjamin's segment, the filmmaking was enough to make me want to see a feature directed by her.