Our Final Sundance 2010 Recap & Favorite Films of the Fest
by Alex Billington
February 1, 2010
The 2010 Sundance Film Festival has finally come to an end and Brandon and I are on our way back to sunny Los Angeles. It was truly an incredible year for the both of us. It was Brandon's first time attending Sundance and my fourth. He saw 35 films and I saw 26, so between the two of us, we saw a grand total of 61 films at Sundance. If you've been following our coverage over the last two weeks, we've been bringing you reviews, blogs, interviews, videos, and more from Park City. And as a final recap we present our Favorite Films of the Fest as well as a rundown of everything we wrote, including every last review we published.
Let's start at the top and take a look at our favorite films from Sundance 2010. While I did see a lot of good films this year, choosing my overall favorites wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I guess the best stuff was already on my mind and I just needed to pull them out and write them down. So here are our favorites:
Alex's Best of the Fest:
#1 - Buried - I'm making an unconventional pick here, but I'm choosing this just because my experience watching this at midnight was the best of Sundance. And because it's an extraordinary film, too.
#2 - Blue Valentine - This film contains the two best performances of Sundance, the best cinematography of Sundance, and the most emotional, depressing story of Sundance, but it's an amazing film.
#3 - Catfish - I'm not usually someone who likes documentaries, but this one blew me away. I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it because it was so exciting and intense.
#4 - HappyThankYouMorePlease - I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy and this was the one I fell in love with this year. Not everyone loved it, but I saw it twice and enjoyed it even more the second time.
#5 - HIGH School - I honestly didn't expect a stoner comedy to be this good, but I laughed my ass of the entire time, and actually thought it was a great movie, too.
Brandon's Best of the Fest:
#1 - Blue Valentine - An honest, beautifully written, wonderfully directed, splendidly acted portrayal of love and loss that engaged my emotions as well as my brain more than any film at the fest. Every viewer is given the opportunity to experience something entirely unique.
#2 - Catfish - A mind-blowing, odd, funny, weird, terrifying, sad, and ultimately wholly unique film unlike any other I've experienced. The less said -- and read -- about it, the better.
#3 - The Kids Are All Right - A truthfully told, heart-warming story about the strength of family and the often humorous aspects of love and marriage. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening steal the show; but it's the strength of the writing that enables them to do so.
#4 - Exit Through the Gift Shop - Always benevolent, but severely subversive, this doc pulls the rug out from under the art world while paying tribute to the artists who express themselves on the street. It's a whole lot of fun to watch and even more fun to analyze.
#5 - Cyrus - This film houses some of the best comedic improvisation, and it manages to retain its awkward edge while at the same time being emotionally engaging and just downright hilarious.
As a recap, you can find two lists below of ALL reviews of Sundance films published over the last two weeks. They are organized by the score they were given in the review in order to easily find the best Sundance films.
All of Alex's Sundance Reviews:
9.5/10 - Buried (dir. Rodrigo Cortés)
9/10 - Blue Valentine (dir. Derek Cianfrance)
9/10 - HappyThankYouMorePlease (dir. Josh Radnor)
8.5/10 - HIGH School (dir. John Stalberg)
8/10 - I'm Here (dir. Spike Jonze)
8/10 - Nowhere Boy (dir. Sam Taylor Wood)
7.5/10 - Frozen (dir. Adam Green)
6/10 - Hesher (dir. Spencer Susser)
5/10 - Howl (dir. Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
4/10 - The Runaways (dir. Floria Sigismondi)
All of Brandon's Sundance Reviews:
10/10 - Blue Valentine (dir. Derek Cianfrance)
9.5/10 - Catfish (dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman)
9.5/10 - Louis C.K.: Hilarious (dir. Louis C.K.)
9/10 - The Company Men (dir. John Wells)
9/10 - Exit Through the Gift Shop (dir. Banksy)
9/10 - Splice (dir. Vincenzo Natali)
9/10 - Un Prophete (dir. Jacques Audiard)
8.5/10 - 12th & Delaware (dir. Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady)
8.5/10 - Buried (dir. Rodrigo Cortés)
8.5/10 - The Kids Are All Right (dir. Lisa Cholodenko)
8.5/10 - The Tillman Story (dir. Amir Bar-Lev)
8.5/10 - Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (dir. Eli Craig)
8/10 - Get Low (dir. Aaron Schneider)
7.5/10 - The Shock Doctrine (dir. Mat Whitecross & Michael Winterbottom)
7/10 - Howl (dir. Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
7/10 - Lovers of Hate (dir. Bryan Poyser)
6/10 - Winter's Bone (dir. Debra Granik)
5/10 - Enemies of the People (dir. Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath)
5/10 - The Runaways (dir. Floria Sigismondi)
3/10 - Frozen (dir. Adam Green)
All of Our Sundance Video Reviews:
Animal Kingdom (dir. David Michôd)
Boy (dir. Taika Waititi)
Catfish (dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman)
Cyrus (dir. Jay & Mark Duplass)
I'm Here (dir. Spike Jonze)
Life 2.0 (dir. Jason Spingarn-Koff)
Splice (dir. Vincenzo Natali)
All of Our Sundance Interviews:
Jay & Mark Duplass - Writers/Directors of Cyrus
Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady - Directors of 12th & Delaware
Derek Cianfrance - Writer/Director of Blue Valentine
Eli Craig - Writer/Director of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
For those interested, I'm also part of indieWIRE's criticWIRE and I've submitted rankings and reviews as part of their coverage of Sundance. You can find my scores and a complete rundown with rankings for all of the films playing at Sundance right here. They've got the best overall look at all the buzz from the festival.
That's all from Sundance folks. We have a few more interviews coming this week (one with the director of Blue Valentine, the other with the director of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil) but besides those, this concludes our coverage of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. We had an amazing time and I'm sure neither Brandon nor I will ever forget the experiences or the memories. We met some truly wonderful people, from filmmakers to bloggers to volunteers, and trekked miles through snow, but it was all for the love of cinema. We'll be back in Park City next year, but until then, it's time to get some much needed rest and relaxation. See you soon!