Movies about teenage girls, racism, infertility, demons, and the apocalypse were the festival’s highlights.
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival didn’t yield any true standouts — nothing like last year’s Call Me By Your Name or The Big Sick — but a general lack of buzz doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of movies worth watching. Horror, high school stories, infertility comedies, post-apocalyptic dramas, and more ensured that the festival was a succession of startling and sometimes unsettling delights.
Here are nine films in particular that we’ll all be talking about later this year.
Madeline’s Madeline is the story of a teenager named Madeline (the outstanding Helena Howard, in what’s sure to be a breakout role) who, after spending time under medical supervision for mental health issues, is finding new life and a community away from her obsessive, codependent mother (Miranda July). She finds solace in a theater group — but even though the woman who leads the group (Molly Parker) presents herself as a supportive collaborator for Madeline, it starts to become clear that she’s gleaning more from the relationship than may be healthy for the girl.
Writer/director Josephine Decker forgoes a straightforward telling of the story, opting instead for something that feels woozy and original from the start, disorienting by design, drawing us into Madeline’s muddled and sometimes overheated headspace in a way that feels more governed by dream logic than reality. It’s a stunner of a work from Decker and a new twist on the well-trodden theater troupe subgenre.
Madeline’s Madeline is awaiting distribution.