Sundance 2018 wrap-up!

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

I can’t believe it’s already over! It felt like just yesterday I was writing about how excited I was to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for my eighth year, but, over twenty reviews later, it’s in the books. Overall, this was another solid year, although I must admit I’m not sure any of the films I’ve seen will figure heavily into the awards race next year. Usually Sundance has a few movies that do, like last year’s GET OUT, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, THE BIG SICK and WIND RIVER. I can’t really see any of the big winners making the same kind of awards play, although I could be wrong.

As in previous years, here are some of my impressions of this year’s fest:

Amazing midnight movies: For the last year years, I’ve been whining that the Midnight program needed an overhaul, and boy oh boy did someone apparently listen. This year’s midnight selection was superb, with it kicking off with Panos Cosmatos’s soon-to-be immortal MANDY, starring a chainsaw-wielding Nicolas Cage. Things only got better from there, with ASSASINATION NATION being bought for $10 Million, SUMMER OF ’84 scratching the nostalgia itch, and A24’s HEREDITARY getting raves, with many pegging it as a potential genre classic.

Joaquin Phoenix rules: It’s time to forget all about I’M STILL HERE, with Joaquin Phoenix giving two of the best performances at the fest in his respective movies, both of which hail from streaming giant Amazon. The first was the more mainstream DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT, directed by Gus Van Sant, with him starring as a paralyzed cartoonist. In that one, I must admit he got overshadowed a bit by Jonah Hill in a meaty supporting part as his AA sponsor. However, his next film, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, was the best of the fest – with him sparking Oscar talk for his performance as a PTSD-afflicted vet trying to save a young girl from a pedophile ring. While I suspect Lynne Ramsay’s film is a little too radical for the Academy, it ranks among one of the best films I’ve ever seen at the fest.

Surprise screenings: After GET OUT premiered at last year’s secret screening, hopeful distributors hoped lightning would strike twice, with two films getting last minute secret screenings. The first was Joseph Kahn’s BODIED, fresh off an amazing run at TIFF, with new distributor YouTube hosting a word-of-mouth screening that I was lucky enough to attend. The film was awesome, although I’m curious as to how YouTube Red will release it. The other was Jason Reitman’s TULLY, which was well-received in advance of its April release, although I’m not sure it’s going to connect to audiences in a big way.

TOP 5 Sundance movies:




About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.