11 Things We Learned At Sundance 2018

by IMDb-Editors | last updated - 25 Jan 2018

Here’s a selection of things we learned during the first week of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

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Garrett Hedlund in Burden (2018)

There Has Been No Breakout Hit … Yet

Sundance has long been a festival where indie Oscar contenders are first showcased. Last year alone featured Get Out, The Big Sick, and Call Me by Your Name, all of which are up for Academy Awards. But while there are noteworthy, transformative performances from the likes of Joaquin Phoenix in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot and Garrett Hedlund in Burden, there has been no standout movie that critics are predicting will go all the way. But the festival runs until Jan. 28. So, there may be a surprise yet.


Sales Have Been Slow

Aside from a headline-grabbing purchase of Assassination Nation for a reported $10+ million, only about a dozen films were picked from this year’s crop in the first week of the festival. More titles will be acquired, but it’s a different story than last year, when The Big Sick sold for $12.5 million, Patti Cake$ sold for $9.5 million, and our acquisitions list topped 40 titles overall. The coming days and weeks will reveal the end result.

See the full list of Sundance 2018 acquisitions

Jane Fonda

Three Iconic Stateswomen Stated, "Time's Up"

Trailblazers Jane Fonda, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Gloria Allred were all the subjects of documentaries at Sundance, each making the trip to Park City, Utah, and proving as vital and inspirational as ever. At the Respect Rally on Jan. 20, prominent attorney Allred got the crowd chanting, "Resist! Persist! Insist! Elect!"

Addressing the crowd, activist and Oscar-winning actress Fonda said: "Get Congress back. Everything is at stake … we can do it. Time is up!" Later, on a Sundance panel, Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg stated: "Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is. For so long women were silent. I think it's about time."

Bill Skarsgård

Bill Skarsgård Was a Fan Favorite

At the IMDb Studio at Sundance, Bill Skarsgård received the 2018 IMDb STARmeter Award as a Fan Favorite for the prior year, in which he was named IMDb's No. 1 Breakout Star and No. 5 Top Star of 2017, in addition to starring as Pennywise the Clown in the horror blockbuster It. The Swedish actor was at Sundance with frenetic teen thriller Assassination Nation.

Nicolas Cage and Linus Roache at an event for Mandy (2018)

Nicolas Cage Revealed His Favorite Roles

At the festival with otherworldly thriller Mandy, Nicolas Cage paid a visit to the IMDb Studio at Sundance, where he revealed his own favorite performances were in Vampire’s Kiss and Face/Off. "I was trying to marry my fascination with silent film with modern film performance," Cage said. "Vampire's Kiss was one of the first times I got to combine two of my favorite energies, which is horror and comedy. Those go beautifully together because they’re two sides of the same coin. They both embody madness.”

Watch the full video

John David Washington and Anthony Ramos in Monsters and Men (2018)

Films Tackling Race Stood Out From the Crowd

Titles tackling race issues were given prominence at Sundance and proved some of the most acclaimed titles. The opening film was Blindspotting, which deals with racial profiling and police misconduct. Monsters and Men also revolved around the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white cop, while Burden focused on a member of the KKK looking to change his ways.

Laura Dern and Isabelle Nélisse in The Tale (2018)

#MeToo and "Time's Up" Reflected on Screen

As well as being prominent on the streets via the Respect Rally, the #MeToo movement was reflected on the screens of Sundance. Movies dealing with abuse and gender equality were woven throughout the program, this being the first major film festival to take place in the wake of a wave of scandals throughout the industry.

Timely premieres included The Tale, a drama starring Laura Dern as a journalist reflecting on the sexual abuse she experienced as a teenager, and Eighth Grade, which is a black comedy about the misery of being a middle-school girl in the era of social media. These were on top of the previously mentioned documentaries around Jane Fonda, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Gloria Allred. This year, 38 percent of the films shown at Sundance were directed by women.


Oakland Is on Indie Filmmakers' Minds

Two buzzing films at this year's festival are set in Oakland, Calif.: Sorry to Bother You and the aforementioned Blindspotting. Sorry is earning attention for myriad reasons: It has a sci-fi spin on the standard slacker narrative, Lakeith Stansfield and Tessa Thompson star, and fabulously named director Boots Riley has 25+ years of indie cool cached as leader of hip-hop group the Coup. (RIP Pam the Funkstress.) And there's a woke/controversial scene in Blindspotting that's earned more attention than most of the movies at the festival.

Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne, and Chris O'Dowd in Juliet, Naked (2018)

Buzz Titles and Crowd Pleasers

Despite there being no obvious contenders for awards season next year, there were plenty of titles that proved highly entertaining and proved an answer to the question everyone asks at Sundance: “What’s been your favorite film?” Comedies Juliet, Naked and Private Life have major breakout potential; documentary standouts included Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind and Jane Fonda in Five Acts; many cited Danish thriller The Guilty as a favorite; and The Tale and Colette generated decent buzz. The year ahead will reveal what audiences outside of Park City will embrace.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane

Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane Have Got Some Moves

Actors Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane tore up the dance floor at a party to celebrate the premiere of their movie, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and the launch of IMDbPro's new app. Lane was in Park City for the first time and also stars in Sundance title Hearts Beat Loud. It marked a return for Moretz, who first came to Sundance in 2009 with 500 Days of Summer.

Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon Snuck in a Killer Supporting Role

Joaquin Phoenix is the subject of Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, and Jonah Hill (looking like a lost Wilson brother) has earned raves for his seriocomic performance in the movie. But when we heard that Kim Gordon, the former anchor of Sonic Youth and our enduring No. 1 rock-'n'-roll parent, landed a supporting role as strong as her character's Valium addiction, we got our hopes up for what could be Gus Van Sant's best movie since Milk. And we were not disappointed one bit.