TV & Movies

11 Movies To Watch At The 2023 Sundance Film Festival

This year, fans from all over the US can tune in virtually.

Jennifer Connelly in 'Bad Behaviour.'
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

It’s that time again. Even as film lovers rush to catch up on last year’s must-see films before the Oscars, the annual Sundance Film Festival is poised to give audiences a first taste of 2023’s new movies. Industry insiders and devoted cinephiles will make the pilgrimage to Park City, Utah, but film fans who can’t swing a trip will be able to take part, too: From Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, viewers with online passes can access digital screenings of the fest’s most anticipated films.

Sundance is known for launching indie darlings; last year, it came through with a few critic-approved dramas, including Kogonada’s meditative sci-fi film After Yang, the gripping psychological thriller Resurrection, and the criminally under-seen comedy Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. On the documentary side, Sundance launched Descendant, Fire of Love, and Riotsville, U.S.A.

This time around, the festival promises to wow audiences once again with hotly anticipated adaptations (Cat Person, Eileen), buzzy directorial debuts (Magazine Dreams, Bad Behaviour), and of course, can’t-miss documentaries (The Stroll, Judy Blume Forever). The only dilemma viewers will face is choosing which of the many, many movies on the program to watch. But never fear — with the 11 films listed below, you can’t go wrong.


Cat Person

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

The Very Online will remember this film’s source material of the same name, a short story about a young girl’s ill-advised relationship with an awkward older man. It went viral in 2017 after being published in the New Yorker, making its author Kristen Roupenian a literary star overnight — though she’d get mired in controversy in 2021, when the person whom Cat Person was based on published an essay at Slate.

All that aside, the movie adaptation shows a lot of promise. Emilia Jones plays college sophomore Margot, and Nicholas Braun (aka Succession’s Cousin Greg) plays her 30-something boyfriend; rounding out the cast are Hope Davis and Isabella Rossellini. Susanna Fogel, who wrote the script for Booksmart, directs.


You Hurt My Feelings

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You Hurt My Feelings tells a tale as old as the literary world: A woman shares her work-in-progress with her apparently supportive husband, only to learn that he actually doesn’t like the book. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies play the unhappy couple, and Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) writes and directs.



Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Ottessa Moshfegh stans, this one’s for you: The author’s 2015 novel has been adapted into a film starring Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie. The story is set in 1960s Boston and follows the titular Eileen (McKenzie), an unsatisfied young woman who works at a prison. When she meets a new colleague (Hathaway), Eileen is immediately taken with her, but as she gets sucked further into this woman’s world, she soon finds herself in over her head.


The Stroll

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Nowadays, New York City’s Meatpacking District is a playground for the elite, with designer boutiques and overpriced brunch spots straddling both sides of the High Line — but in the 1990s, it looked very different. Back then, trans women of color, unable to find employment elsewhere, sought clients for sex work on the neighborhood’s streets. The Stroll paints an intimate picture of these marginalized people and their world, and was co-directed by Kristen Lovell, who worked along with these women for a decade.


Fancy Dance

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

In Fancy Dance, Lily Gladstone stars as Jax, a woman struggling to get by on Oklahoma’s Seneca-Cayuga Reservation while caring for her niece and searching for her missing sister. This is just the start of a big 2023 for Gladstone; later this year, she’s set to feature in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and in the Hulu series Under the Bridge. Director Erica Tremblay is also one to watch: She recently directed an episode of the critical darling Reservation Dogs, where she also worked as an executive story editor, and she’s co-creating a new series with Reservation Dogs’ Sterlin Harjo called Yellow Bird.


Young. Wild. Free.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Algee Smith and Sierra Capri star in Young. Wild. Free., a fresh take on a Bonnie and Clyde-style story from writer-director Thembi Banks, whose short film Baldwin Beauty premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.


Judy Blume Forever

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Between this sweet documentary about Judy Blume’s impact and the new adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., which hits theaters in April, it’s going to be a big year for Blume fans.


Magazine Dreams

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Jonathan Majors is going to be everywhere this year, from his role in Creed III to his villainous turn in Antman Quantumania, but it’s the small-budget Magazine Dreams that promises to give the talented actor the most interesting material to dive into. Majors plays Killian, an aspiring bodybuilder who increasingly endangers himself in pursuit of a hyper-masculine ideal.



Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Randall Park, beloved for his roles in Fresh Off the Boat and Always Be My Maybe, makes his directorial debut with Shortcomings. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film follows Ben (Justin H. Min) as he navigates a quarter-life crisis, brought on by his girlfriend’s decision to move away for an internship.


Bad Behaviour

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

As Jane Campion’s daughter, Alice Englert grew up around film, and got an early start in the industry as an actor at age 12. Now, with her directorial debut, Englert seems to be excising some of that baggage. Bad Behaviour stars Jennifer Connelly as a former child actor who’s hoping to find solace at a spiritual retreat, only to find herself asked to delve deeper into her troubled relationship with her daughter, with disastrous results.


Polite Society

Sima Khalid/Focus Features

From Nida Manzoor, creator of the critically acclaimed musical comedy We Are Lady Parts, comes Polite Society. The film follows Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), a teenager who’s dead set on becoming a stuntwoman — even if no one, save her older sister (Ritu Arya), believes in her. When her sister falls for the wrong man, though, Ria will have to tap into her combat expertise to save her.