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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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Maggie Gyllenhaal, 'The Kindergarten Teacher'
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Maggie Gyllenhaal, 'The Kindergarten Teacher'

The thought of an American remake of a near-perfect 2014 Israeli movie about a teacher and her gifted student feels, at best, superfluous – until you see what Maggie Gyllenhaal can do with the former role. A frustrated writer and somewhat stifled wife and mother, her educator suddenly discovers that there's a preternaturally poetic prodigy in her midst. First, she encourages the boy's writing while passing his work off as her own. Slowly, she begins view him as goose laying golden eggs of free verse ... and we start to realize we're dealing with an unhealthy anti-heroine. Watch Gyllenhaal channel joy and jealousy at having found her own little Ezra Pound – which then transforms into protectiveness, possessiveness and eventually something like psychosis – you can't imagine anybody else mining the part this deeply without relying on easy emotional pressure points. It's the most impressive work she's ever done, and yes, we're counting her recent turns in HBO's The Deuce and the miniseries The Honorable Woman.

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