Welcome back to Park City! For its first full, in-person edition since 2020, the Sundance Film Festival has loaded up its lineup with a little something for everyone. There are offbeat movie-star turns (want to see Jennifer Connelly as a narcissistic ex-child star, Anne Hathaway as a mysterious prison employee or Gael García Bernal as a flamboyant wrestler? You’re in luck!) There are independent filmmaking royalty — Nicole Holofcener, Ira Sachs, Davis Guggenheim, Sebastian Silva — returning to the place where they first made their name. There are documentaries on actors, musicians, celebrity icons, social issues, sexual taboos, space travel and not one but two films that give transgender sex workers a voice. Throw in a few movies starring various Succession cast members and some brain-tweaking, stomach-churning Midnight selections, and hot damn! We got ourselves a proper Sundance.
We’ll be reporting from the festival once it kicks into gear on Jan. 19, but here are the 20 films we’ve singled out as must-sees — from the directorial debut of Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park to a portrait of Michael J. Fox, the triumph of an underdog bodybuilder to an adaptation of the most notorious New Yorker short story in decades. (And for those who won’t be in Park City this year but want to check out Sundance’s virtual film festival, a select number of competition and premiere titles will be available to screen online from Jan. 24-29.)