“One thousand and one”, “Persian version” win big
It’s the end of Sundance 2023.
On Friday, the film festival in snowy Park City, Utah, announced the winners of its first prizes. “Mille et un”, about a mother who kidnaps her son from the foster care system, received the grand prize from the American jury. Directed by AV Rockwell and starring Teyana Taylor, the critically acclaimed film will be released by Focus Features in March.
“The Persian Version”, by filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz, also won the festival’s other major trophy, the American Dramatic Audience Award. The family comedy-drama follows a young Iranian-American woman (Layla Mohammadi) who struggles to understand her mother (Niousha Noor).
Here are our other favorite films from this year’s Sundance lineup:
Wrestling fans unfortunately don’t have a great canon of great movies (“No Holds Barred,” anyone?). That’s why it’s so cool that this underdog biopic puts their heads in the hearts and minds of viewers. Gael García Bernal’s Saúl hangs up his mask – a hallmark aspect of the Mexican luchador ensemble – and embraces his queer identity inside and outside the ring by being a flamboyant “exótico”, making for an archetypal character historically mocked and mocked a runaway success. – Brian Truitt
Anne Hathaway was never better than in William Oldroyd’s dark erotic thriller, playing a bewitching prison psychologist whose shy colleague (Thomasin McKenzie) falls under her spell. Hathaway strikes the perfect balance between camp and compassion, as she slowly erases the sophisticated facade of her martini-drinking character. Beautifully shot and scored, with a truly jaw-dropping twist, “Eileen” is the deliciously demented sister to Todd Haynes’ “Carol” that I didn’t know I needed. –Patrick Ryan
“Judy Blume Forever”
The best-selling young adult author of books including “Are You There God?” It’s Me, Margaret’, ‘Blubber’ and ‘Forever’ have a lot to say about the controversies she faces in this documentary about her hugely influential writing career. Blume reflects on serving as a beacon for young readers who thought she was the only adult they could trust to be honest about big life issues. For a documentary about an octogenarian writing for teens, it’s a cute punk-rock story of a woman who views stories about puberty, sex and coming of age, especially for girls, as something to highlight and celebrate, rather than shame and hide a way. – Hannah Yasharoff
‘Invisible Hand Landscape’
Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”) finds his breakout role in this sci-fi comedy based on MT Anderson’s 2019 novel that questions how an alien invasion would impact Earth on an economic scale. Also starring Tiffany Haddish, William Jackson Harper, Josh Hamilton and Michael Gandolfini, it’s both a fun satire and a thoughtful commentary on love in an age of social media and working class financial exploitation. – Yacharoff
Hollywood finally understands that Jonathan Majors is one of the greatest actors of his generation, and through an immersive portrayal of a struggling social outcast, he’s the torn gateway into the strange culture of addicted bodybuilding. steroids. But director Elijah Bynum’s drama also works on a universal level, taking an obsessed man’s journey toward fitness goals to a self-destructive (and oddly watchable) place. – Trout
Chaos reigns in Ira Sachs’ haunting eighth feature film, which traces a messy love triangle between a narcissist (Franz Rogowski), her husband (Ben Whishaw) and a young woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos). Rogowski’s character could be obnoxious in lesser hands, as his partners become collateral damage in his relentless pursuit of pleasure. But Rogowski brings an almost desperate, hurt quality to our erratic protagonist, and the drama’s frenzied, groping sex scenes add to its raw authenticity. -Ryan
Rarely does a great genre-defining rom-com come along, which is why “Rye Lane” and its stars should get all the love. David Jonsson’s unlucky Dom and Vivian Oparah’s effervescent Yas have the requisite meet cute, but even that is rebellious in its own way. This adorably quirky story takes the same style and rips through a colorful day in London with the same brilliant bounce as its main characters, who pull off a jaw-dropping “Shoop” at a karaoke bar and ultimately stand up to their exes. – Trout
For anyone who’s ever been told to “chill a little,” screenwriter Adrian Tomine delivers a moving and disarming comedy about an aspiring filmmaker (Justin H. Min) who is forced to come to terms with his overwhelming cynicism. Skillfully directed by Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”), the film offers thoughtful commentary on identity, relationships and the push-pull of representation. But it’s Min who shines in every frame as the charismatic, tangy leader, whose easygoing chemistry with co-star Sherry Cola is an utter pleasure to watch. -Ryan
As a recovering theater kid, this one was high on my list and didn’t disappoint, although going through a ‘Wicked’ phase isn’t a prerequisite for enjoying the ‘Wet’ foray. Hot American Summer” by Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon in the achingly grumpy seriousness of theater goers. Come for the stacked cast including Jimmy Tatro (“American Vandal”), Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”) and Ben Platt and fiancé Noah Galvin (who both previously starred in “Dear Evan Hansen”), stay for the hilarious writing and sweet commentary about underdogs pursuing their passions. – Yacharoff
Everything you missed at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival