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22 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at Sundance 2022

From docs on Princess Di, Kanye and TikTok to Tinder horror and dramas in which A-list stars behave badly — our picks for the best bets at this year’s all-virtual Sundance

photographs in illustration courtesy of The Sundance Institute

It was on again, then maybe possibly not, then most definitely “yes” if you were booster-shot and vaccinated — 2022 was set to be the year that Sundance would return to doing an in-person film festival, after 2021’s all-virtual edition. Attendees would once again be packed onto shuttles, comparing notes on which social-issue documentary to catch and crowing about seeing Ariana Grande at the checkout stand of the grocery store on Park Ave. A viral variant had other plans, alas, and we’re back to communing over cinematic discoveries and must-sees while hunched over our respective laptops. The 2022 in-person edition was canceled, and while the fest would still run from January 20th through the 30th, it would be online only. It was the right choice, the safe choice, and one met with both sighs of frustration and, frankly, relief. Ah, Sundance! Ah, humanity!

The benefit of virtual film festivals is that what you lose in the you-are-there experience of schlepping from screening to screening, bonding with folks in lines and being in the room when the lights go back up and careers are born, you gain in geography becoming an afterthought. You do not have to be in Park City to Sundance it up, in other words, and we look forward to sharing the highs and lows of what this year’s fest brings. Here are 22 movies we’re looking forward to seeing — and discussing and arguing over and unpacking with other virtual viewers — once the festival kicks off this Thursday. See you at the movies and in our DMs.

From Rolling Stone US

‘Phoenix Rising’

Evan Rachel Wood has been fearless in going public with her experiences with domestic violence and assault, and has used her platform to speak out and spearhead the non-profit organization the Phoenix Act. Amy Berg’s two part doc — the festival will be screening the first chapter; it will air in full on HBO later this year — allows the Westworld actor to tell her story in full, and give viewers a 360-degree sense of what’s she’s endured and how she emerged from the ashes, stronger than ever. The Marilyn Manson details alone should make this a tough but necessary watch.

‘The Princess’

To say that there’s been a renewed fascination with Diana Spencer over the last few years would be putting it mildly — the one-two punch of The Crown and Pablo Larrain/Kristen Stewart’s Spencer has forced folks to reckon with the building up/tearing down of the People’s Princess and how the British monarchy treats “outsiders” within the family circle. Now comes Ed Perkins’ documentary, which compiles archival footage (and nothing but) to paint a picture of Spencer’s experience in what could be a blinding, glaring spotlight. Expect this one to generate a lot of chatter at the festival.


When guitarists Shery Bechara and Lilas Mayassi formed Slaves to Sirens, they became Lebanon’s first all-female metal band and a regional-scene favorite that was attracting attention outside of Beirut. It’s hard enough to keep a group together in the best of circumstances, however, much less when you’re living in a country that’s suffering from internal strife, cracking down on freedom of expression, and still adhering to a sexist and homophobic value system. Throw in creative differences and one member coming to terms with her sexuality, and headbanging their way to rock & roll glory seems damned near impossible. Documentarian Rita Baghdadi turns her lens on the groundbreaking Middle Eastern metalheads right at their make-or-break point, all the better to capture female artists (and a culture) in a key transitional moment.

‘TikTok, Boom’

How did TikTok — an amalgamation of lip-syncing and video apps, courtesy of the Chinese company ByteDance — become the social media service du jour? How have Gen-Z influencers like Feroza Aziz and superstars like Spencer X become so rich and mega-famous on it? And what exactly is it doing with all that data they collect from users? Director Shalini Kantayya (Coded Bias) lays out the history of TikTok’s rise to prominence, while also casting a wary eye on the way that the service has “shadowbanned” certain demographics and taken a very selective approach to free speech on the platform. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to record a one-minute clip in which we appear to jump through a waterfall while dancing to “Savage.”

‘We Need to Talk About Cosby’

Stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell dives headfirst into the good, the bad, the ugly and the extremely ugly of Bill Cosby’s legacy — from groundbreaking comedian to TV royalty to accused serial rapist. Structured as a four-part docuseries, this examination tries to reconcile the public persona of “America’s dad” versus the monster described by dozens of women he drugged/assaulted over decades (and whose convictions were recently overturned). How can the same guy who made Fat Albert and gave the world Cliff Huxtable have harmed so many people over decades, it asks? And: Why did it take a viral clip of another comic mentioning stories that had been out there for years for so many of us to take these allegations seriously?

‘When You Finish Saving the World’

Jesse Eisenberg makes his directorial debut with this story of a young singer-songwriter (Finn Wolfhard) who becomes a bit of an internet sensation. His mother (Julianne Moore) runs a program for domestic abuse survivors. Neither of them understand why the other does what they do — a familial situation that becomes even more complicated when Mom also decides to care for the son (Billy Bryk) of someone staying at the shelter.

‘Sharp Stick’ (2022)

It’s been almost a dozen years since Lena Dunham first made a name for herself with 2011’s Tiny Furniture (to be fair, she’s kept herself pretty busy since then). Her new feature film revolves around a young woman (Kristine Froseth) who, after losing her virginity and getting her heart broken, decides to take a scientific, sex-positive approach to exploring every aspect of the pleasure principle. Dunham costars, as does Jennifer Jason Leigh, Zola‘s Taylour Paige, Jon Bernthal and Scott Speedman.


The Spectacular Now‘s James Ponsoldt returns to the scene with…a kid’s movie? Granted, this tale of four tweens who stumble across a mystery right before summer ends and middle school begins has a strong Stand By Me vibe about it, along with a soupçon of those Spielberg-produced movies in the 1980s involving ordinary youngsters in extraordinary circumstances. Combine that with the fact that the writer-director has a knack for getting great performances out of actors and a hell of eye for talent (see: his work with Miles Teller, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Shailene Woodley, Jason Segel), and we’re all in.

‘You Won’t Be Alone’

A warning: If your mother takes you to a shape-shifting spirit who happens to be swinging by your 19th century village, there’s a strong likelihood that you will be turned into a witch. Sorry, them’s the breaks! When this happens to a young Macedonian girl, she begins to take over the bodies of other residents (including Lamb‘s Noomi Rapace) and experience what it’s like to be human over several decades. We get the sense that we’re not alone in thinking that this sounds like exactly what we need to scratch our existential-horror itch.