The Best 2017 Sundance Movies, A.k.a. The Ones Our Editors Can't Stop Talking About

Courtesy of Sundance

It's a bit of an overwhelming thing to attend a film festival as large as Sundance — it's a week and half jam-packed with talks, screenings, interviews, and in 2017 an entire branch of the Women's March on Washington, complete with incredible speeches from the likes of Chelsea Handler and Jessica Williams. But despite the breadth of the fest and some record snowfall in Park City, three Bustle editors — West Coast Entertainment Editor Anna Klassen, Associate Movies Editor Rachel Simon, and myself — trudged through the mountains of snow to check out a modest sampling of the over 100 feature length films screened this year to come up with the best movies of Sundance 2017 — at least of what we saw.

While we were doing our best to catch everything, it should be noted that we didn't manage to hit up every film getting critical acclaim — Kumail Nanjiani's The Big Sick and Jenny Slate-starrer Landline also garnered their own crop of buzz but escaped our schedules. That being said, these nine movies are absolutely deserving of your attention as they creep towards wider distribution. And because Sundance now screens new television series too, we've also included one new series that we just can't wait to see more of.

Call Me By Your Name, Starring Armie Hammer

Courtesy of Sundance

This is my favorite film from Sundance, yes, but although it's only January, it's hard to imagine it won't be one of my favorites from 2017, too. The gorgeous, affecting film is like nothing else out there, featuring performances from Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet that break your heart. This movie is unforgettable. - Rachel Simon

Call Me By Your Name is a special sort of film. It manages to be many things at once: a coming of age story, a gay romance, a sweet portrayal of father and son, and a tourist endorsement for Northern Italy. Set over the course of a summer in 1983, the story follows 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) as he swims, plays the piano, reads, tries to find romance, and explores his summer vacation away. Enter Oliver, played by a tanned and short-shorts wearing Armie Hammer, a 20-something grad student who comes to stay and study at Elio's home under the tutelage of his academic parents. Elio is immediately drawn to Oliver and the two begin a romance. Thanks to fantastic performances, the sensual backdrop of Northern Italy, and Luca Guadagnino's direction, the film is as seductive as Hammer's toned, Ken Doll physique. But this isn't to say it's a story about sex. A tender and sweet tale, Call Me By Your Name treats its teenage protagonist with the weight, respect, and complexity he deserves. Elio is not just filled with raging hormones, but with sensitivity, intelligence, and a love for his parents — and that's a wholly refreshing take on teenage lust. I want to go on about all the elements that make this film a superior offering, but there are just too many to mention. Simply put: Call Me By Your Name is an empathetic story about love and life that should not be missed. -Anna Klassen

We all loved this film, so I'll keep it brief: This is one of my favorite films of the last 12 months, hands down. -Kelsea Stahler

Mudbound, Written & Directed By Dee Rees

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Mudbound is an emotional and relevant story, despite it being set in post-WWII America. Dee Rees' adaptation of the best-selling novel by Hillary Jordan gives us a look into two families lives living in Mississippi: The Jacksons, black sharecroppers, and the McAllans, the white owners of the farm on which the Jacksons work. Their lives overlap and racism and hate are palpable with every interaction. Things become more complicated when both families have sons who fight in WWII. They return home, safe but scarred, and find solace in one another. Racism is obviously still an issue in America today, and this story set in the 1940s helps to illuminate the origins of racial tension in this country. This message is furthered by passionate performances from each and every actor on screen. Mudbound may be rooted in the distant past, but its relevance in 2017 is both astounding and terrifying. - Anna Klassen

Brigsby Bear, Starring Kyle Mooney & Mark Hamill

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I certainly did not expect to put a Lonely Island-produced film starring Kyle Mooney as a kid obsessed with a cheesy '80s TV show to make the top of my list, but this film blew me away. Not only is Mooney's script full of thought-provoking contradictions about what it means to be a family and to love, but it's also really, truly funny and one of Star Wars fan favorite, Mark Hamill's, best performances. Yes, that means I cried. -Kelsea Stahler

Before I Fall, Starring Zoey Deutch

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Although Before I Fall is far from a perfect movie (that ending feels all wrong), it's one of the sharpest high school films in years. It understands the complexity of teen girls' friendships better than any recent film barring 'The Edge of Seventeen,' and it's anchored by a breakout performance from Zoey Deutch. - Rachel Simon

The Incredible Jessica James, Starring Jessica Williams

Courtesy of Sundance

This film is not perfect, but thanks in great part to star Jessica Williams (and excellent supporting cast in Noel Wells of Master of None and Chris O'Dowd of The IT Crowd, with an assist from Williams' soon-to-be-iconic dance moves), it's a hilarious, touching, and honest romantic comedy that won't make the feminist in you want to shrivel up and hide once the happy ending comes around. The film's honest take on womanhood, female sexuality, and confidence is something that is sure to delight audiences when the film finally hits Netflix. - Kelsea Stahler

A Ghost Story, Starring Rooney Mara

Courtesy of Sundance

A Ghost Story is like nothing I've ever seen. Though the title suggests something scary, David Lowery's tale of a ghost who haunts a single house for generations is the opposite: beautiful, comforting, and entirely heartbreaking. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play lovers who live in the aforementioned house, and that's all I dare to say without spoiling what's to come. The brilliance of this story comes in its grand simplicity. Though a quiet, modest, and often too-slow tale, it manages to ruminate on humanity's biggest questions: the meaning of life, earth's eventual end, and the possibility of life after death. What begins as an intimate portrait of a single couple grows to encompass the past, future, and illustrate how minuscule — yet important — our lives on earth may be. - Anna Klassen

Ingrid Goes West, Starring Aubrey Plaza & Elizabeth Olsen

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Produced by star Aubrey Plaza, this film offers audiences a first look at what Plaza's power can be when she takes on the starring role of a feature film — a first for the beloved Parks & Rec star. Plaza plays Ingrid, a young woman dangerously obsessed with the lives of others on Instagram, while Elizabeth Olsen takes the spot of the IG queen of Los Angeles, Taylor, and the apple of Ingrid's eye. When Ingrid goes west to California she meets the charming Batman enthusiast Dan Pinto (played perfectly by O'Shea Jackson of Straight Outta Compton) along with Olsen's Taylor and delves into a terrifyingly hilarious "What If" tale of Instagram obsession gone too far. It's a chilling, smart, and damn funny exploration of the little app that rules so many of our lives — and the sort of odd, irksome film that makes Sundance tick. - Kelsea Stahler

The Yellow Birds, Starring Alden Ehrenreich & Jennifer Aniston

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This film has a lot of problems, including odd pacing and a central mystery that's not nearly as compelling as the movie thinks it is. But it also is a profoundly moving look at war and PTSD, and its cast, led brilliantly by Alden Ehrenreich, is A+.  - Rachel Simon

Band Aid, Written, Directed by, & Starring Zoe Lister-Jones

This film is the ultimate example of girl power — created from the ground up by star Zoe Lister-Jones and brought to life by a film crew comprised entirely of women, the film about a couple who learns to resolve their fights by writing songs about them explores the uncomfortable truths of a relationship rocked at its core by a miscarriage. While the pacing is a tiny bit slow and I'm not generally a fan of Fred Armisen's weird-guy-who-stares-and-talks-in-a-slightly-unsettling-manner characters, at the center of of the movie is a relationship between Lister-Jones' Anna and her husband, Ben (the always charming Adam Pally), is a whole lot of heart. And if that's not enough, this film also champions the most ingenious invention ever: harmonica holder as a personal pizza rack. Brilliant. -Kelsea Stahler

I Love Dick, Created by Jill Soloway & Starring Kathryn Hahn

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The highly anticipated Amazon series, from Transparent creator Jill Soloway and adapted from the novel by American Artist Chris Krause, is an honest, and delightfully meandering exploration of female sexuality and celebrity and every minute spent with Kathryn Hahn on screen is a delight. And to boot, it's just damn sexy. - Kelsea Stahler