The Best Performances at the Sundance Film Festival
This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
My favorites from Sundance.
Madonna once again being ridiculous.
Sheryl Lee Ralph!
Best of Park City
For the first time since 2020, the Sundance Film Festival happened in person. I was there! I’m still incredibly cold!
It’s always fun to try guessing what movies and performances will be talked about outside of the festival. It’s clearly a fruitful launching ground; CODA premiered there, set a record for the biggest sale ever in 2021, and then went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. (Other future Best Picture nominees that premiered at Sundance include Promising Young Woman, The Father, Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, Call Me By Your Name, and Get Out.)
So here’s my report on “movies you are going to care about now that Sundance is over.” (I’m very tired.)
My God, did I love Passages, Ira Sachs’ movie about a queer love triangle, featuring an electrifying performance from Franz Rogowski and a couple of sex scenes that I may never stop thinking about (in private). Less explicitly horny but just as much “this is a movie that Kevin would obviously love” was Nicole Holofcener’s You Hurt My Feelings, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a perfectly Julia Louis-Dreyfus performance, but for which we should all be also talking about how good Michaela Watkins is playing her sister.
Anne Hathaway, who, let’s be honest, never misses, gives another spectacular performance in Eileen, a movie that’s going to have a lot of people talking when it hits theaters. Equally buzzy is Jonathan Majors’ performance in Magazine Dreams, a movie for which he transformed his entire body to be believable as an aspiring bodybuilder, and then transformed emotionally to make me cry a lot. Gael García Bernal is also going to get a lot of attention for playing a flamboyant lucha libre wrestler who trailblazer a path for gay men in that field in Cassandro.
Movies like Fair Play, Past Lives, and Shortcomings have potential to be Sundance-to-real-life hits. But one of the things I like most about the festival is discovering small, peculiar films that might not get attention were they not playing at a major festival like this. This year, that’s Fremont, a black-and-white character study about an Afghan immigrant working in a fortune-cookie factory, who struggles with her desire to want to be happy and fall in love. Lead actress Anaita Wali Zada is incredible.
So, keep an eye and an ear out for these movies over the next year. And send me hot chocolate. I haven’t defrosted yet.
I can’t get over that Madonna got the most in-demand and talented actresses in Hollywood to participate in a grueling boot camp, so that she could see which of them could possibly play her in a biopic, and then, after casting Julia Garner from Ozark to much fanfare decided, “Nah.”
It was reported this week that Madonna is scrapping plans to direct the movie of her own life story, in favor of going on a concert tour. The casting for this movie was the entertainment news story for the weeks that it was going on. A Who’s Who of hot young Hollywood was learning choreo from Vogue and perfecting an unplaceable accent that would morph into several different accents over the years. And now, it was all for naught.
With all due respect to both Madonna and Julia Garner, there’s no denying that it feels like the latter dodged a bullet here.
The Rise of Sheryl Lee Ralph Continues
The devil works hard, but the programming director trying to convince me to care about and actually watch the Super Bowl works harder.
It’s Parker Posey’s Time
I’ve never supported a fan campaign more than this one. (Also, some of you didn’t watch Parker Posey monologuing very seriously about analingus in The Staircase, and it shows.)
What to watch this week:
Poker Face: Natasha Lyonne doing Columbo. An unexpected delight! (Now on Peacock)
Infinity Pool: This is bonkers and wild in every way those words mean. (Now in theaters)
What to skip this week:
Wolf Pack: Someone save Sarah Michelle Gellar from this nonsense. (Now on Paramount+)
You People: Eddie Murphy’s next star vehicle should be better than this. (Now on Netflix)
Maybe I Do: It pains me to not recommend a Diane Keaton rom-com, but alas, here we are. (Now in theaters)
Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.
Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.