Lists

PCR’s Sundance Film Festival Awards (Part 1)

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival gave audiences around the world an exciting film year to look forward to. From the dramas and films that make you think, to the horrors that make you jump out of your seat, and to the comedies that make you laugh out loudly, this year’s lineup proved that low-budget filmmaking is in! Our team had the luxury of seeing films in all of the Sundance categories this year, and we couldn’t be more impressed. Here are our winners/best films in each Film category:

U.S. Dramatic

Winner: LUCE directed by Julius Onah

Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Luce (2019)

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.
Reasons to Watch:
+ Luce has an incredibly intelligent script that is brought to life by passionate and delicate performances from Kelvin Harrison Jr., Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, and Tim Roth.

+ The film is guaranteed to make audiences uncomfortable as they battle against their feelings for the characters and what they’re subjected to, but it’s exactly why it’s so effective!

 = 5/5

Runner-Up: The Last Black Man in San Francisco directed by Joe Talbot

U.S. Documentary

Winner: Apollo 11 directed by Todd Douglas Miller

Apollo

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.
Reasons to Watch:
+ Apollo 11 is an artistic telling of a mission using archived footage. It feels as cinematic as the events that transpired, making it one of PCR’s favorite documentaries of Sundance.

 = 5/5

Runner-Up: Knock Down the House directed by Rachel Lears

World Cinema Dramatic

Winner: Queen of Hearts directed by May el-Toukhy

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. 
Reasons to Watch:
+ Queen of Hearts is erotically unsettling and governed by strong performances. The films sends heartbreaking messages about the reality of abuse and the victims who suffer it regarding belief and the judicial system. And it’s exactly the kind of storytelling we at PCR appreciate.

Trine Dyrholm… Need we say more?

★☆ = 4/5

Runner-Up: Koko-di Koko-da directed by Johannes Nyholm

World Cinema Documentary

Winner: Gaza directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
Gaza brings us into a unique place beyond the reach of television news reports to reveal a world rich with eloquent and resilient characters, offering us a cinematic and enriching portrait of a people attempting to lead meaningful lives against the rubble of perennial conflict. 
Reasons to Watch:
Nothing says beautiful and misunderstood like the self-governing Palestinian territory Gaza. And Keane & McConnell’s documentary will help the world see that.

+ The film shows how the people of Gaza are like anyone else despite frequently being a war zone: they enjoy standard things like dancing, celebrating culture and family, and it’s the kind of representation that we at PCR love.

★☆ = 4/5

Runner-Up: Sea of Shadows directed by Richard Ladkani

Next

Winner: The Death of Dick Long directed by Daniel Scheinert

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
Dick died last night, and Zeke and Earl don’t want anybody finding out how. That’s too bad though, cause news travels fast in small-town Alabama.
Reasons to Watch:
The Death of Dick Long is hilarious, plain and simple. It’s bold and uses innovative storytelling with a familiar concept; but trust us, you’ll never guess how Dick died!

+ Michael Abbott Jr. gives a performance that will keep you intrigued (if you aren’t laughing) from beginning to end. His chemistry with Andre Hyland is as infectious as the Wolfpack from The Hangover.
+ Billy Chew’s script is so cleverly funny, but there’s so many messages that will resonate with audiences everywhere. So when we say this is a must-see, we aren’t kidding!

★☆ = 4.5/5

Runner-Up: Light from Light directed by Paul Harrill

Premieres

Winner: Late Night directed by Nisha Ganatra

latenight

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
Legendary late-night talk show host’s world is turned upside down when she hires her only female staff writer. Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, her decision has unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women separated by culture and generation are united by their love of a biting punchline.
Reasons to Watch:
+
The CAST! Their chemistry is superb and the performances are perfectly hilarious.
+ Late Night is a crowd pleaser: there are moments that will have audiences laughing nonstop, but it’s perfectly balanced with serious and important issues that plague the workplace.

★☆ = 4/5

Runner-Up: Troop Zero directed by Bert & Bertie.

Documentary Premieres

Winner: Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool directed by Stanley Nelson

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
A visionary, innovator, and originator who defied categorization and embodied the word cool: a foray into the life and career of musical and cultural icon Miles Davis.
Reasons to Watch:
+ Think you know who Mile Davis was? Think Again! Stanley Nelson’s triumphant documentary sheds light on the multifaceted superstar like never before.
+ After watching this documentary, you will want nothing more than to submerge yourself into Davis’ discography after rediscovering who he was, which is exactly what makes it so effective and one of our favorites of the 2019 film festival.

★★★★☆ = 4/5

Runner-Up: Ask Dr. Ruth directed by Ryan White

Midnight

Winner: Little Monsters directed by Abe Forsythe

Lupita Nyong'o, Caliah Pinones, Vivienne Albany, and Diesel La Torraca in Little Monsters (2019)

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies.

Reasons to Watch:
Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad and Alexander England are superb.

+ You will laugh nonstop! So bring an extra diaphragm!
+ The wonderful kids, led by Diesel La Torraca, bring their A game!!!

★★★★☆ = 4.5/5

Runner-Up: Greener Grass directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe

Spotlight

Winner: The Nightingale directed by Jennifer Kent

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
1825. Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy, who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
Reasons to Watch:
+ Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale will be one of the most brutal and violent watches of 2019, but every second is worth it.
+ The film does not hold back the gut punches, so if you like feeling numb while watching a story of rage and revenge unfold, this one is for you!
+ Lastly, Aisling Franciosi gives the performance of her career. Don’t miss out.

★★★★☆ = 4.5/5

Runner-Up: The Mountain directed by Rick Alverson

Kids

Winner: Abe

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Synopsis (Sundance):
The Israeli-Jewish side of his family calls him Avram. The Palestinian-Muslim side Ibrahim. His first-generation American agnostic lawyer parents call him Abraham. But the 12-year-old kid from Brooklyn who loves food and cooking, prefers, well, Abe. Just Abe.
Reasons to Watch:
+ Noah Schnapp is remarkle as Abe. His performance will appeal to audiences of all ages as he struggles with his ability to connect with his family and their cultures.
+ The film is one of the more lighthearted of Sundance 2019, but it’s one that will resonate with audiences for its messages.

★★★★☆ = 3.5/5

Runner-Up: The Witch Hunters directed by Rasko Miljkovic

Stay tuned for our Awards Part II, where we’ll choose winners in categories like Best Director, Actor, Ensemble and More! Tweet us @ PopCultureRevs and tell us which Sundance films you’re looking forward to most!

Categories: Lists, Movies

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