Three. Frustrating. Years. That’s how much time has passed since the Sundance Film Festival last held an in-person edition in Park City, Utah. (Put it this way: The opening night selection was the Taylor Swift documentary, Miss Americana, which chronicled the making of her 2018 album of Reputation. So, like, ancient history.) Blame the pandemic, of course. Because of safety fears, attendees couldn’t be in the room for the premiere of the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner, Coda, or cheer along for Questlove and the first screening of his own future Oscar pic, Summer of Soul. No sightings of a random Real Housewives star on the bustling Main Street. No napping during 8:30 AM screenings. No huffing and puffing walking in the snow in the frigid weather at high altitudes. No nothing.
All the more reason why the 2023 Sundance Film Festival felt extra-special. At long last, we could enjoy the cinema experience as it was originally intended — ahem, with actual people in theaters! After all, past winners such as Juno, Get Out, Whiplash, Boyhood, Eighth Grade and Promising Young Woman just don’t feel the same from a couch in a temperature-controlled room. So what was on the lineup this year? An intriguing mix of titillating dramas, rousing crowd-pleasers and fascinating celebrity documentaries. Marvel villain Jonathan Majors turned his body into a toxic mass of muscle, while Phoebe Dynevor proved she’s no Bridgerton one-smash-wonder. And Brooke Shields and Michael J. Fox proved why they’re enduring icons. Here’s a wrap of the 10 buzziest offerings.