As the Sundance Film Festival comes to an end, we take a look at 5 films worth seeing this year. From slashers to biopics, there’s something for everyone in 2015.

It’s that time of the year. With the Academy Awards just weeks away and Mother Nature pumping out icy confetti to ensure that outside plans are ruined, now is as good a time as any to get reacquainted with what’s on tap in the cinema world. While we’ve got you covered when it comes to most of 2015, the recent events at the Sundance Film Festival have provided added anticipation for independent cinema’s finest offerings.

Since we’ve already waxed poetic about Dope and The Stanford Prison Experiment, here are five more films that should be on your viewing radar from Sundance.

 

Grandma

What it is: Elle, a onetime successful poet, abruptly breaks up with Olive, her girlfriend of four months. But before she gets a chance to get overly sentimental, her granddaughter, Sage, unexpectedly shows up with an emergency that requires money. With the clock ticking, the two set out in a vintage Dodge and drop in on Elle’s old friends and flames, asking for help but instead ending up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets.

Why we’re excited: Lily Tomlin stars as, Elle, opposite Julia Garner (who is receiving tons of buzz) who plays her granddaughter.

What critics are saying: “Playing an ill-tempered lesbian on an all-day odyssey to raise the money her granddaughter needs for an abortion, Tomlin is in her glorious element. It doesn’t hurt that there are numerous other expertly gauged performances to savor, plus a bundle of heart, in this small-scale but consistently funny and poignant comedy-drama.” – The Hollywood Reporter.

Me Earl & the Dying Girl

What it is: Greg Gaines is an awkward, self-deprecating high school student determined to coast through his senior year as anonymously as possible. Avoiding social interactions like the plague, Greg spends most of his time remaking wacky versions of classic movies with his only friend, Earl. Greg’s well-meaning mother intervenes, forcing him to befriend Rachel, a classmate who’s been diagnosed with leukemia. Against his better judgment, Greg concedes.

Why we’re excited: Based off the book of the same name, the film recently fielded bids of $12 million USD dollars for the rights which would have made the sale a festival record, but the filmmakers and producers instead opted for a more “creative deal” with Fox Searchlight.

What critics are saying: “Self-loathing and insecurity are symptoms as definitive of adolescence as growth spurts and acne. Movies that explore the treacherous process of growing up are a dime a dozen, but few recent efforts encapsulate the layered fears that accompany the coming of age experience with as much wit and depth as Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl.” – Indiewire

 

Turbo Kid

What it is: It’s 1997. In a ruined post-apocalyptic world, the orphaned Kid survives on his own through drought-ridden nuclear winter, traversing the Wasteland on his BMX, scavenging for scraps to trade for a scant supply of water. When his perpetually chipper, pink-haired new best friend Apple is kidnapped by a minion of evil overlord Zeus, the Kid summons the courage of his comic book hero and prepares to deliver turbocharged justice to Zeus, his buzzsaw-handed sidekick Skeletron, and their vicious masked army.

Why we’re excited: Often Sundance films are drenched in melodrama and sadness. Turbo Kid throws caution to the wind and seems like a hodgepodge of ’80s nostalgia and the cinema that inspired a generation of kids who were unafraid to wear neon as a uniform.

What critics are saying:Turbo Kid is insane. It’s remarkable that a film like this was produced at all. Imagine what a movie might look like if it came from the mind of a ten-year old kid from the ’80s who is obsessed with Mega Man, and who just saw the Mad Max movies for the first time. Take a step further, and picture the film, if it was produced by a competent team of filmmakers with a budget affording that kid access to a good team to create practice special effects and makeup.” – Slash Film

 

Partisan

What it is: Alexander is like any other kid: playful, curious and naive. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise, Alexander has grown up seeing the world filtered through his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, creeping fears take shape, and Gregori’s idyllic world unravels.

Why we’re excited: Vincet Cassel always steals the show in any film that he’s cast in. Partisan should be no different.

What critics are saying: “Casting Cassel as a ruthless villain might seem like a cliche, but Kleiman uses him counterintuitively, locating an avuncular, calming quality in the actor. Newcomer Chabriel ably shoulders the movie’s central role, showing an impressive range of expression even when his sheltered character isn’t speaking.” – Variety

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

What it is: Experience Kurt Cobain like never before in the first fully authorized portrait of the famed rock music icon. Director Brett Morgen expertly blends Cobain’s personal archive of art, music, and never-before-seen home movies with animation and revelatory interviews with his family and closest confidants. Following Kurt from his earliest years in Aberdeen, Washington, through the height of his fame, a visceral and detailed cinematic insight of an artist at odds with his surroundings emerges.

Why we’re excited: Brett Morgen’s documentary is eight years in the making and promises both Nirvana fans and cinema fans alike an expansive look at the lengendary rocker’s life and career.

What critics are saying: “To say that Morgen got unfettered access to the frontman’s personal belongings would be putting it mildly. There’s Super 8 footage of Kurt as a towheaded toddler, banging away on a toy piano and blowing out candles on a birthday cake. There are snapshots of him as a sullen teen, with Kurt’s voiceover describing how discovering pot and punk helped him cope with a profound sense of alienation. Ever wanted to see his birth certificate, or hear Cobain’s taped conversation with Melvins singer Buzz Osborne about how shitty Aberdeen is? It’s in here, as are glimpses of endless notebooks filled with artwork, prospective band names (The Reaganites, Hare Lip), and embryonic versions of what would become iconic songs.” – Rolling Stone

For more 2015 film goodness, check out the 25 films we’re looking forward to this year.

Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.

What To Read Next