Col Needham's Top Sundance Picks for 2021

by Col Needham | last updated - 15 Jan 2021

I am the Founder and CEO of IMDb and these are the movies which I am most looking forward to seeing at the Sundance Film Festival 2021. The list is in alphabetical order.

The scope of the festival and the quality makes it difficult to pick a subset and these are all taken from my longer Sundance Interest List which contains over 45 movies and the festival is only 7 days long!

The titles I have seen from Sundance 2021 are on this list, which will be updated as the festival progresses.

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1. The Blazing World (2021)

TV-MA | 101 min | Horror, Thriller

4.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  
33 Metascore

Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive.

Director: Carlson Young | Stars: Carlson Young, Udo Kier, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw

Votes: 615

2. Bring Your Own Brigade (2021)

R | 119 min | Documentary

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
81 Metascore

An investigation into our landscape's hidden fire stories and on-the-ground experiences of firefighters and residents struggling through deadly fires.

Director: Lucy Walker | Stars: Trina Cunningham, Mike Davis, Don Hankins, Chad Hanson

Votes: 322

3. CODA (2021)

PG-13 | 111 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
72 Metascore

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family's fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her passion at Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

Director: Sian Heder | Stars: Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant

Votes: 137,894

4. The Cursed (2021)

R | 111 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
62 Metascore

In rural 19th-century France, a mysterious, possibly supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride, a pathologist, comes to town to investigate the danger - and exorcise some of his own demons in the process.

Director: Sean Ellis | Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly, Alistair Petrie, Roxane Duran

Votes: 11,973

5. First Date (II) (2021)

Not Rated | 103 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

5.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
52 Metascore

After being conned into buying a shady '65 Chrysler, Mike's first date plans with girl-next-door Kelsey implode as he finds himself targeted by criminals, cops, and a crazy cat lady.

Directors: Manuel Crosby, Darren Knapp | Stars: Tyson Brown, Shelby Duclos, Jesse Janzen, Nicole Berry

Votes: 652

6. A Glitch in the Matrix (2021)

Not Rated | 108 min | Documentary

5.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
62 Metascore

Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher tackles the question "are we living in a simulation?" with testimony, philosophical evidence and scientific explanation in his quest for the answer.

Director: Rodney Ascher | Stars: Nick Bostrom, Joshua Cooke, Erik Davis, Philip K. Dick

Votes: 1,995

7. How It Ends (2021)

R | 82 min | Comedy

5.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
57 Metascore

In this feel-good apocalyptic comedy, Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) embarks on a hilarious journey through LA in hopes of making it to her last party before it all ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way.

Directors: Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein | Stars: Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Whitney Cummings, Tawny Newsome

Votes: 3,279

8. In the Earth (2021)

R | 107 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

5.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
63 Metascore

As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist and park scout venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run.

Director: Ben Wheatley | Stars: Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, Ellora Torchia

Votes: 9,145

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

R | 126 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
85 Metascore

Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O'Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.

Director: Shaka King | Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback

Votes: 82,512

10. Land (I) (2021)

PG-13 | 89 min | Adventure, Drama

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
61 Metascore

A bereaved woman seeks out a new life, off the grid in Wyoming.

Director: Robin Wright | Stars: Robin Wright, Demián Bichir, Sarah Dawn Pledge, Kim Dickens

Votes: 11,626

11. Ma Belle, My Beauty (2021)

96 min | Drama, Romance

5.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
65 Metascore

A surprise reunion in the South of France reignites passions and jealousies between two women who were formerly polyamorous lovers.

Director: Marion Hill | Stars: Idella Johnson, Hannah Pepper, Lucien Guignard, Sivan Noam Shimon

Votes: 460

12. Mass (2021)

PG-13 | 111 min | Drama

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
81 Metascore

The parents of both the shooter and one of the victims of a school shooting tragedy agree to meet and talk in an attempt to move forward.

Director: Fran Kranz | Stars: Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney

Votes: 15,257

13. Night of the Kings (2020)

R | 93 min | Drama, Fantasy

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
82 Metascore

A young man is sent to "La Maca", a prison of Ivory Coast in the middle of the forest ruled by its prisoners. With the red moon rising, he is designated by the Boss to be the new "Roman" and must tell a story to the other prisoners.

Director: Philippe Lacôte | Stars: Bakary Koné, Steve Tientcheu, Jean Cyrille Digbeu, Rasmané Ouédraogo

Votes: 2,664

14. On the Count of Three (2021)

R | 86 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
74 Metascore

Jerrod Carmichael makes his directorial debut and stars in On the Count of Three, a darkly comic feature about two best friends, Val (Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott), on the last day of their lives.

Director: Jerrod Carmichael | Stars: Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Tiffany Haddish, Lavell Crawford

Votes: 5,616

15. Passing (I) (2021)

PG-13 | 98 min | Drama

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
85 Metascore

"Passing" follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.

Director: Rebecca Hall | Stars: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Bill Camp

Votes: 15,232

16. Pleasure (2021)

R | 109 min | Drama

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
75 Metascore

Bella Cherry arrives in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an adult film star, but she soon learns that fame won't come easy as she harnesses her ambition and cunning to rise to the top of this mesmerizing and singular world.

Director: Ninja Thyberg | Stars: Sofia Kappel, Zelda Morrison, Evelyn Claire, Chris Cock

Votes: 17,904

17. Prime Time (2021)

TV-MA | 93 min | Drama, Thriller

5.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

On New Year's Eve 1999, an armed man enters a TV studio during a broadcast, takes the host hostage and makes one demand: to give a message live on air.

Director: Jakub Piatek | Stars: Bartosz Bielenia, Magdalena Poplawska, Andrzej Klak, Malgorzata Hajewska

Votes: 1,873

18. The Sparks Brothers (2021)

R | 140 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
80 Metascore

A musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with Ron and Russell Mael celebrating the inspiring legacy of Sparks.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Beck, Jane Wiedlin

Votes: 5,341

19. Superior (2021)

99 min | Drama, Thriller

5.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
59 Metascore

On the run, Marian returns to her hometown to hide out with her identical twin sister, Vivian, altering the trajectory of both their lives.

Director: Erin Vassilopoulos | Stars: Alessandra Mesa, Ani Mesa, Pico Alexander, Jake Hoffman

Votes: 350

20. The World to Come (2020)

R | 105 min | Drama, History, Romance

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
73 Metascore

Somewhere along the mid-19th century American East Coast frontier, two neighboring couples battle hardship and isolation, witnessed by a splendid yet testing landscape, challenging them both physically and psychologically.

Director: Mona Fastvold | Stars: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck, Christopher Abbott

Votes: 8,704




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