PARK CITY, UTAH — Marginalized stories aren’t exactly new ground for Sundance, at 40 years old, but its collection of films still tend to double as topical barometers of the moment. Since the real world is teeming with stories about Nazis, racism, sexual assault, and power imbalance, many of the films that’ve been prioritized and talked about during the festival center characters who live in the world as it is.
Monster, which plays out like a terse mixture of diary and procedural about the justice system, follows the trial of a black teen accused of conspiring to murder. Tense and aggravating in a different way, Burden is the true-life portrait of a Klansmen with a heart. Surprisingly funny, The Miseducation of Cameron Post stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a teen who’s forced into gay conversion therapy at a camp that treats same-sex attraction as a scourge. That movie takes a hit at religious zealots and exists among a handful of coming-of-age movies about teen girls, which includes Skate Kitchen, about an eclectic crew of skateboarders.
There were also, of course, films with feminist perspectives, like the Hamlet retelling Ophelia and Lizzie, a retread of the Lizzie Borden murders. Just as the Sundance Institute issues awards for excellence to close out the festival, I have several to hand out myself in honor of Jezebel’s first attendance.
The Worst Movie I Didn’t See:
Summer of ‘84. Per Collider, “Imagine the Worst Possible Version of Stranger Things”
Best “Overheard” in the Audience:
The Best Weird Role:
Jemaine Clement as a dippy amateur romanticist hitman in the absurd An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, which has a lot of weirdos in it and a few too many fat jokes.
Most Likely to Be Described As Important:
Best Actor, IMO:
Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You.
Best Actress, IMO:
Chloe Sevigny in Lizzie
Movie You Should See Most, When It’s Finally Released:
Sorry to Bother You
Award for Outstanding Feminist Agenda:
A tie between the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG and Ophelia, which repeatedly emphasizes that it’s HER story. It’s OPHELIA’s story.
The Who’s That? Award for Best Bit Role:
Devon Terrell, the actor who played Barack Obama in the Netflix movie Barry, appears in Ophelia as Horatio. “He’s hot. He looks familiar,” I thought, and then Googled him later.
The Loquacious Audience Member Award:
The guy who spoke to me before the start of Beverly Luff Linn and suggested I see Madeline’s Madeline because “your female audience will eat it up.” (I didn’t see it.)
Best Random Comment to Me:
“I’ve never used a computer without a mouse.”
The “Sorry I Fell Asleep Because I Was Tired, Not Because of Your Movie” Award:
Dark Money, a documentary about the danger of untraceable campaign ads as witnessed through Montana elections. Fascinating, no sarcasm.