With Sundance Film Festival 2014 coming to an end, our reviews our up, the awards are out and now our ScreenCrave reviewers have come together to each pick their favorite films of this years amazing festival…
Top Pick: Boyhood
Richard Linklater’s latest, an exploration of growing up, took one of the boldest chances by taking over a decade to film the narrative story of a family’s growth from childhood, into adolescence, and on to the next phase of life. The naturalism in the film’s aesthetic and ease of its storytelling creates a sprawling, compelling look at what makes us the people we turn into as adults.
Linklater is perhaps the greatest of all Sundance Darlings, from his debut Slacker through Before Sunrise, Sunet & Midnight (and several others). There’s a certain degree of safety in his movies, in that you can expect a considerate discussion of a number of life’s great, unanswerable questions. The performances of Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette are so completely in line with Linklater’s sensibility, that it allows Boyhood to be the most direct, and clear directorial vision of the Sundance Festival.
Top Pick: Love is Strange
Love is Strange was far and away the best film I saw at Sundance this year. The John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are a match made in heaven. During the Q & A after the Sundance premiere, the cast was discussing why they chose this project, and Lithgow said he knew that he and Molina were going to make a great old couple, and that making this film felt like falling in love with him. That really comes through in the piece and is the heart of what makes this a really exemplary love story.
Beyond their interpersonal chemistry, the story is sincere and easy to identify with, but without becoming predictable. It’s about how complicated, wonderful, confusing, and beautiful it can be to love someone for most of your adult life. Love is an almost ubiquitous theme at Sundance, but Ira Sachs’ earnest portrayal of a mature relationship, in which the foundation is strong yet there remains vulnerability and uncertainty, is refreshing and new.
Top Pick: Infinitely Polar Bear
This was one of the best years for Sundance films that I’ve seen in some time. There were so many great films, that it is nearly impossibly to pick a favorite. Infinitely Polar Bear took the lead for me because of how invested wonderful and inspired I felt walking out of the theater.
Not only did it have a solid script, great direction, Mark Ruffalo in one of his best roles yet, supported a stunning cast including Zoe Saldana as I’ve never seen her before, but something about it felt important on a level that’s hard to explain. It takes you into a crazy and seemingly unstable world and fills it with love and understanding. It represented the true meaning of family, in a seemingly organic and simple way. Nothing about it felt forced, or preachy, but real and honest in an extremely well put together way.
This was a film with heart, an enjoyable experience and one that somehow just felt important to see.