Col Needham's Top Sundance Picks for 2021

by Col Needham | last updated - 2 months ago

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)

101 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

5.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

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: Udo Kier, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw, Carlson Young

Votes: 122

2. Bring Your Own Brigade (2021)

127 min | Documentary

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

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

Votes: 28

3. CODA (2021)

111 min | Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 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 love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

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

Votes: 272

4. Eight for Silver (2021)

113 min | Horror

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
57 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: 150

5. First Date (II) (2021)

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  
48 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: 109

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 this question "are we living in a simulation?" with testimony, philosophical evidence and scientific explanation in his for the answer.

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

Votes: 734

7. How It Ends (2021)

82 min | Comedy

6.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
59 Metascore

On the last day on Earth, one woman goes on a journey through LA to make it to her last party before the world 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: 175

8. In the Earth (2021)

R | 100 min | Horror

6.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
62 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: 171

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

R | 126 min | Biography, Drama, History

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

Bill O'Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party per FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. As Party Chairman Fred Hampton ascends, falling for a fellow revolutionary en route, a battle wages for O'Neal's soul.

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

Votes: 34,255

10. Land (2021)

PG-13 | 89 min | Drama

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
62 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: 2,294

11. Ma Belle, My Beauty (2021)

93 min | Drama, Romance

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

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: 50

12. Mass (2021)

110 min | Drama

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
78 Metascore

Aftermath of a violent tragedy that affects the lives of two couples in different ways.

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

Votes: 196

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  
83 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: 980

14. On the Count of Three (2021)

84 min | Drama

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

Two guns. Two best friends. And a pact to end their lives when the day is done.

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

Votes: 205

15. Passing (2021)

98 min | Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
84 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: 163

16. Pleasure (2021)

109 min | Drama

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
74 Metascore

19-year-old Linnéa leaves her small town life in Sweden for Los Angeles to become Jessica, the world's next big porn star. But the road to her goal turns out to be bumpier than she imagined.

Director: Ninja Thyberg | Stars: Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Evelyn Claire, Chris Cock

Votes: 360

17. Prime Time (2021)

TV-MA | 93 min | Drama, Thriller

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 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: 74

18. The Sparks Brothers (2021)

R | 135 min | Documentary, Music

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
81 Metascore

The Sparks Brothers is a 2021 music documentary film directed by Edgar Wright about Ron and Russell Mael, the creators of the pop and rock band Sparks.

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

Votes: 117

19. Superior (2021)

99 min | Drama, Thriller

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

On the run, Marian returns to her hometown to hide out with her identical twin sister, Vivian, and in doing so alters the trajectory of both their lives.

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

Votes: 94

20. The World to Come (2020)

R | 105 min | Drama

6.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 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: 3,082




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