20 Best Movies and Performances at Sundance 2018

From a sexual-abuse survivor's tale to a bone-chilling ghost story, broad social satires to free-form docs, the highlights of this year's fest

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Laura Dern, 'The Tale'

Laura Dern, 'The Tale'

Arguably the most buzzed about and debated movie of this year's fest, Jennifer Fox's semi-autobiograhical recounting of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of an adult – as filtered through an old, fragmented short story and some marquee-name actors – is one tough watch. (Hereditary was the most intense horror film we saw at the fest; this drama was easily the most horrific.) Laura Dern is a national treasure, as we've said before, and she shares an almost equal amount of screen time with Isabell Nélisse, who plays the 13-year-old version of Jennifer. But it's the Blue Velvet-to-Big Little Lies etc. actress who is our guide through this maze of shifting memories and incriminating revelations, and as the adult version of the filmmaker, she's the one who charts a map of denial, dread, dawning realization and, eventually, pure rage. 

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