The Sundance Film Festival is known for being one of, if not the most, prestigious film festival in the world. Each year waves of cinematic talent, both young and old, pour in Park City, Utah, for a week and a half showcasing the best new films arriving in the upcoming year. This year’s festival has certainly proved no different in its high standards, with plenty of different films to be excited for in 2019. Here are some of the best that Sundance had to offer.
The film that is topping all the lists and seems to be a festival favourite for all is The Report. Set in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the film follows CIA agents Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) and Denis McDonough (Jon Hamm), as the various torture methods exploited by the US government are explored. Driver is receiving plenty of acclaim for his performance, and the film’s combination of gritty drama and moments of high-tension thrills makes this one not to be missed by any true-crime lover.
Shia LaBeouf may be a name you haven’t heard in a while, but now he returns from the shadows of his controversial past with a biopic he has both written and stars in. Honey Boy follows the childhood life of LaBeouf as he tries to fix the broken relationship with his alcoholic father. What could have been a hyperbolic sympathy grab (which would seem unsurprising from Shia), is instead a powerfully real and evocative drama depicting the confusing life of a child-star, made all the more difficult by a lacklustre father-son relationship.
Rumours have always surrounded Michael Jackson and the questionable relationships he had with certain children, but now Leaving Neverland finally brings some gruelling accusations to light. The two-part, four-hour long documentary follows Wade Robson and James Safechuck as they testify that Jackson befriended and sexually assaulted them as children. With strongly convincing detail and emotion this documentary may be far from entertaining, but an incredibly important story that must be seen by all who care about the evils of the exploitation of power.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Taking home the ‘Dramatic Directing’ Award, Joe Talbot crashes onto the scene with his directorial debut The Last Black Man in San Francisco. The film follows the life of a young man struggling in San Francisco, a city which seems to have left him behind. When a very expensive property falls into his hands, he must do all he can to hit back against the powers that oppose him. Filled with thrilling shots and thought-provoking social commentary, Talbot’s debut has a lot to say and gives us a bright new directing talent to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Brittany Runs a Marathon
Inspired by true events and led by the comedic magic of Jillian Bell, Brittany Runs a Marathon focuses on a late-20s woman looking to reclaim power in her life. After a doctor’s visit leaves Brittany with the knowledge that she is leading a very unhealthy lifestyle, she goes into a state of panic and decides that she must run a marathon to prove she’s in control of herself. The film creates a great balance of laughs and reflection, leaving the viewer with lots to think about, including how we view modern societal norms, and how to be happy in today’s world.
By Rory Yeates
Image courtesy of Sundance.