18 films we can't wait to see at Sundance 2023

18 films we can't wait to see at Sundance 2023

Early buzz at the festival centers on films featuring the likes Jonathan Majors, Anne Hathaway, Nicholas Braun, and Mia Goth

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
AV Club Sundance 2023 film preview
From left: You Hurt My Feelings, All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt, Cat Person (Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

The Sundance Film Festival, more than any other event of its kind, is an incubator for exciting new talent. So while it’s certainly possible to make educated guesses about which titles will earn on-the-ground chatter, studio distribution, and even awards buzz, the Park City fest can always be relied upon to throw out-of-nowhere curveballs into the mix. We’re rounding up some of the premieres that belong on every cinephile’s radar, a mix of films from promising newcomers and established indie maestros that have the early whiff of success. And our picks just scratch the surface; even selecting only narrative films with buzzy names attached, there are myriad other potential hits coming to Park City not on this list. Read on for just 18 of the feature films we’re most excited about checking out—for the next 10 days at Sundance and then later this year. (Keep in mind that this year’s hybrid format allows audiences to purchase tickets for virtual screenings from the safety of their own homes!)

Sundance Film Festival 2023 | All Eyes on Independents
Advertisement

2 / 20

All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt

All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt

All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt
All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Raven Jackson

Cast: Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Sheila Atim, Chris Chalk

It makes perfect sense that the visually lyrical Barry Jenkins would be executive producer for the feature film directorial debut of Raven Jackson, whose work until now has lived in the photography and poetry spaces. The description for A24’s All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt promises “an embodied experience that honors the sumptuousness of life and leaves you feeling the rain on your skin.” Sounds like Sundance’s dreamiest hit.

Advertisement

3 / 20

Bad Behaviour

Bad Behaviour

Bad Behaviour
Bad Behaviour
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Alice Englert

Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, Alice Englert

If you notice a theme on this list, it’s the high number of feature-length directorial debuts from rising filmmaker talents. Alice Englert, the Australian actor known for Ginger & Rosa, is one such example. Bad Behaviour stars Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, and Englert herself in the tale of a morally depraved woman whose codependency with her daughter pushes her to the limit during a retreat at a mountain resort.

Advertisement

4 / 20

Cassandro 

Cassandro 

Cassandro
Cassandro
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo

You had us at “Gael García Bernal as a flamboyant wrestler.” Documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams delivers Cassandro, a cinematic depiction of the real-life “Liberace of lucha libre,” Saúl Armendariz. Roberta Colindrez and Raúl Castillo are among Bernal’s co-stars.

Advertisement

5 / 20

Cat Person

Cat Person

Cat Person
Cat Person
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival / STUDIOCANAL

Director: Susanna Fogel

Cast: Nicholas Braun, Emilia Jones

Remember that wild short story that set Twitter afire and broke The New Yorker’s record for most its downloaded piece of fiction? That was Kristen Roupenian’s tale of modern dating, Cat Person, which is officially getting the Hollywood treatment now. And like Twitter-to-Sundance hit Zola before it, the film will feature “Succession” star Nicholas Braun. His co-star is another Sundance regular, CODA’s Emilia Jones, with Susanna Fogel directing.

Advertisement

6 / 20

Eileen 

Eileen 

Eileen
Eileen
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: William Oldroyd

Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland, Owen Teague

Literary icon Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel Eileen makes its way to the screen courtesy of Lady Macbeth director William Oldroyd. The film’s plot description promises a “seductive and savage performance” from Anne Hathaway, an actor for whom seduction and savagery is never anything less than riveting. The performance from Thomasin McKenzie, meanwhile, is purported to be “unhinged.”

Advertisement

7 / 20

Fair Play

Fair Play

Fair Play
Fair Play
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Chloe Domont

Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenrich

Fair Play unites Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenrich for what looks to be an incisive commentary on gender dynamics in relationships and the workplace as well as an edge-of-your-seat thriller. In yet another buzzy debut—Sundance is known for them—TV director Chloe Domont leads this tantalizing meditation on ambition.

Advertisement

8 / 20

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

INFINITY POOL - Official Trailer

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman

We’re including Infinity Pool on this year’s Sundance preview list despite its January 27 release from Neon. It’s one of those late January cinematic releases which uses the festival as a direct launching pad. It also boasts the bona fide talent to make it one of the year’s earliest hits: writer-director Brandon Cronenberg leads Alexander Skarsgård and rising scream queen Mia Goth in what looks to be an eerie, bloody good time.

Advertisement

9 / 20

A Little Prayer

A Little Prayer

A Little Prayer
A Little Prayer
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Angus MacLachlan

Cast: David Straithairn, Jane Levy, Celia Weston, Will Pullen, Anna Camp, Dascha Polanco

Writer-director Angus MacLachlan burst onto the scene in 2005 with the Sundance premiere of Junebug, the kind of nuanced, intimate indie the fest often champions. He could repeat that feat with A Little Prayer, which has a crucial main ingredient: a performance from David Straithairn, one of cinema’s low-key best leading men.

Advertisement

10 / 20

Magazine Dreams

Magazine Dreams

Magazine Dreams
Magazine Dreams
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Elijah Bynum

Cast: Jonathan Majors, Taylour Paige, Haley Bennett

Jonathan Majors already owns arguably the hottest streak in Hollywood when it comes to can’t-miss performances, with Devotion and Quantumania and the upcoming Creed III. Now he stars in Magazine Dreams, a character study about a bodybuilder making ends meet from writer-director Elijah Bynum, who most recently pulled tremendous performances out of Timothée Chalamet and Maika Monroe in Hot Summer Nights.

Advertisement

11 / 20

My Animal

My Animal

My Animal
My Animal
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Jacqueline Castel

Cast: Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg

My Animal is “far from the typical werewolf story,” per the Sundance website. One of the buzziest horror entries at this year’s fest, Jacqueline Castel’s film is a character study of a hockey-playing teenage girl (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) who meets a magnetic figure skater (Amandla Stenberg) and undergoes a transformation. How supernatural versus psychological that transformation will be remains to be seen.

Advertisement

12 / 20

Passages

Passages

Passages
Passages
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Ira Sachs

Cast: Franz Rogowski, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Ben Whishaw

Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Ira Sachs and the Sundance Film Festival. Some things are just made for each other. Following his Sundance premieres of Frankie, Little Men, Keep The Lights On, Forty Shades Of Blue, and The Delta, this venerable American filmmaker returns to Park City with Passages, a romantic drama of LGBTQ+ persuasion set in modern-day Paris starring Franz Rogowski, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Ben Whishaw.

Advertisement

13 / 20

The Pod Generation

The Pod Generation

The Pod Generation
The Pod Generation
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Sophie Barthes

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson, Jean-Marc Barr

Sophie Barthes writes and directs what looks to be this year’s After Yang, another look into the not-so-distant future speculating about how technology might affect our lives. The Pod Generation stars Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor as would-be parents considering detachable artificial wombs. You know what? That barely even sounds like sci-fi.

Advertisement

14 / 20

Run Rabbit Run

Run Rabbit Run

Run Rabbit Run
Run Rabbit Run
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Daina Reid

Cast: Sarah Snook, Lily Latorre, Damon Herriman, Greta Scacchi

Is a Sarah Snook TV-to-film takeover imminent? The Succession star returns to her Australian roots in Run Rabbit Run, from Handmaid’s Tale director Daina Reid and screenwriter Hannah Kent. A study of long-held secrets and traumas, the film follows a mother (Snook) whose daughter begins to act strangely after the arrival of, of all things, a rabbit at their door.

Advertisement

15 / 20

Shortcomings

Shortcomings

Shortcomings
Shortcomings
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Randall Park

Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno

The latest star to make the jump from on-camera to behind the camera is Randall Park, who’s looking to make a Sundance splash by transferring Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel Shortcomings to the big screen. If Justin H. Min and his co-stars channel even a fraction of Park’s natural charm, this could be a delightful yet incisive look at the multiplicity of Asian American identities today.

Advertisement

16 / 20

Sometimes I Think About Dying

Sometimes I Think About Dying

Sometimes I Think About Dying
Sometimes I Think About Dying
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Rachel Lambert

Cast: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje

The always-compelling Daisy Ridley takes on her most introverted character yet in Sometimes I Think About Dying, the tale of a cubicle-dwelling isolationist suddenly challenged to engage with Dave Merheje’s affable newcomer. Rachel Lambert, who directed In The Radiant City, helms what Sundance is calling “an unexpected fable on the virtues of living.”

Advertisement

17 / 20

The Starling Girl

The Starling Girl

The Starling Girl
The Starling Girl
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Laurel Parmet

Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Lewis Pullman, Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Austin Abrams

Eliza Scanlen solidifies her reputation as a young star who can handle ambitious leading role material with The Starling Girl, from debut feature writer-director Laurel Parmet. In this case the material is a crisis of faith; Scanlen plays Kentucky teen Jem, who must balance her passion for dance with the expectations of her fundamentalist Christian community. Don’t be surprised if this one nabs major distribution after its premiere.

Advertisement

18 / 20

Theater Camp

Theater Camp

Theater Camp
Theater Camp
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Directors: Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon

Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Nathan Lee Graham, Amy Sedaris, Patti Harrison

If the title alone doesn’t signal that this is a film for a specific, and shall we say enthusiastic, subset of audiences, check out the cast list of Theater Camp: Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Nathan Lee Graham, Amy Sedaris, Patti Harrison, and more. The co-directors are Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon, the latter of whom also co-stars, and joining them as co-writers are Platt and Galvin, for a story set at a summer camp called AdirondACTS. If you’re a theater nerd, you’re going to want to sign up.

Advertisement

19 / 20

You Hurt My Feelings

You Hurt My Feelings

You Hurt My Feelings
You Hurt My Feelings
Image: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Director: Nicole Holofcener

Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Owen Teague

One of the best actor-director pairings of this year’s Sundance fest is an Enough Said reunion. You Hurt My Feelings again marries the wry wit of Julia Louis-Dreyfus with the shrewd social commentary of Nicole Holofcener. That and its A24 distribution are reasons enough to put this film on the radar of every cinephile—and possibly 2024 Oscar voters—in the coming year.

Advertisement

20 / 20