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best of the fest

Best. Sundance. Ever?

A still from Push.

So, was this the best Sundance ever? Though only time will tell if this year’s crop can match some of the more storied lineups of festivals past (consider, if you will, the 1994 and 1985 vintages), from where we were sitting, this was an unusually strong batch of great and near-great movies. Even the always-hard-to-please Todd McCarthy of Variety seemed to agree, calling it “one of the better, and least aggravating, editions of this year-launching festival in some time.” Manohla Dargis also admitted that she found this to be “the most pleasant Sundance in memory,” though she seemed to be talking mainly about the lack of crowds.

We weren’t there for the awards ceremony on Saturday night, which means that there was one less gasp heard in the audience when the Michael-Cera-and-Charlyne-Yi-starring critical punching bag Paper Heart took the Best Screenplay Prize. The other awards seemed to go to more generally respected titles, with some of our favorites getting recognized: Lee Daniels’s Push won both the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, with co-star Mo’Nique getting a special acting prize (we totally called that last one, btw); The Cove and An Education also won Audience Awards; and Cary Joji Fukunaga, whom we spotlighted, won directing honors for Sin Nombre. There were many other big awards given, but it’s worth noting that the other winners of the Grand Jury Prize — We Live in Public for Documentary, The Maid for World Cinema, and Rough Aunties for World Cinema Documentary — are currently without distribution. Let’s hope that gets remedied soon, because, uh, we missed them.

“Push” Wins Three at Sundance; “Public” Top Doc [IndieWire]

Photo: Courtesy of: Lee Daniels Entertainment