Top 5 Sundance 2023 Films | Patrick Beatty Reviews

It’s the first in-person Sundance Film Festival to happen since January 2020, and the energy and magic of Park City have never felt better. The beauty of The Sundance Film Festival and the films, shorts, and workshops available to the public are special for a number of reasons. 

Being the start of the year, these films are for the most part a complete mystery to the press and audiences. You could very well be watching the Best Picture winner and not even know it, Much like in 2021 when “CODA” swept the Oscars after debuting at Sundance. With that being said, here are 5 films that I loved this Sundance!

Note: This year having gotten over my first bout of COVID a couple weeks before the festival, I did not get to all of the films I wanted to see. If you’re favorite isn’t on the list, it could very well be I didn’t get to see it this year, so go easy on me!

5.  20 Days in Mariupol

20 Days in Mariupol Courtesy of Sundance Institute

On the brink of  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a team of Ukrainian journalists documents the first 20 days in Mariupol. A historical documentary showing the true, ugly, and horrifying face of war. Bombs drop, people flee and sometimes (often) do not make it as the city’s put through torture. Filmmaker and journalist Mstyslav Chernov and his crew have only one mission, to get the truth out to the world, as they fight to find electricity and water. This film offers a window that not many would willingly want to look into. It’s painful to watch, It’s supposed to be. I’ve never had a reaction to a piece of film like this, and there’s no point in trying to review it. Just be cautious watching with children around and also be cautioned; the content is graphic. 

4. Sometimes I think About Dying

Sometimes I Think About Dying Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Director Rachel Lambert and producer and star Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) introducing us to a story about social awkwardness and relationships. 

Daisy Ridley is an acting force to be reckoned with. Transitioning from her Star Wars confident and strong character, Fran is the exact opposite. Being in a mundane office for her is exciting as her microwaved dinners with cottage cheese. Often, she fantasizes about how she’ll die. When a new office mate takes a liking to her, she’s forced to confront her anxieties to have a real human connection. This sounds like a completely depressing film, but I promise it isn’t. The humor comes from the office co-workers and the situations and characters that you could copy-paste in your own life and work. Every character feels completely real, and the story is is grounded. Definitely, one to look out for this year.

3. Radical

Radical Courtesy of Sundance Institute

What is the destiny of sixth-grade students at Jose Urbina Lopez Elementary in Matamoros? They are among the worst performing students in Mexico, the world they know is one of violence and hardship, and their classrooms are dominated by an atmosphere of overbearing discipline, not a possibility. New teacher Sergio Juarez decides to try something different, but there’s just one problem: Sergio has no idea what he’s doing. Based on the powerful true story of a teacher choosing to delve into learning with his students in unorthodox and beautiful ways. I loved the acting, the story, and everything about Radical works. If you want to see an international film this Sundance then this is the one for you.

2. Still: A Michael J. Fox Film

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Having a father who faces a similar situation to Michael J. Fox, I am especially drawn to this documentary confronting his incurable disease with unlimited optimism. Owning his own narrative and telling his own story, but also seeing the true painful side of Parkinsons’ disease. I love seeing Michael J. Fox and his family, how he’s gone through so many personal doubts and struggles but still gets back up. Raising billions for Parkinson’s” research and being an advocate for those that may not have a voice. This is a powerful, moving documentary that is a must-watch!

1. Flora and Son

Flora and Son Courtesy of Sundance Institute

John Carney is a festival darling. His breakout film “Once”, won over the festival and became a broadway musical. Sing Street is one of my favorite films, so having him return with Joseph Gordon-Levitt leading another musically dazzling and uplifting film to bring the audiences of Sundance some joy. Flora is a single mom to a son that won’t stop getting into trouble. Wanting to find something to help her son be distracted, she finds a thrown-out guitar to freshen up and give to him. When that doesn’t work. She decided to learn herself, taking lessons online with a soulful teacher played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. From there, the two start to develop feelings for each other while learning about music and songwriting in its purest form. I love the real characters and humor in Flora and Son and believe when it’s on this July it will be an absolute crowd-pleaser.

Honorable Mentions


L’Immensità Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Magazine Dreams

Magazine Dreams Courtesy of Sundance Institute


A still from Birth/Rebirth Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Many reviews for my honorable mentions and more are coming soon! What was your favorite film this Festival? Leave a comment and make sure to follow!

About Me
About Me

Patrick Beatty is a member of the Critics Choice Association (BFCA), Hollywood Critics Association (HCA), and the Utah Film Critics Association (UFCA) and creator of Check out his podcast and make sure to watch Friday’s at 10 AM MST on ABC4 Daily Dish where he talks about the latest film and television releases of the week in a segment called ‘See it or Skip it’

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