Credit: Sundance Institute; Peter Prato/A24; A24

The Sundance Film Festival is in full swing, with half of Hollywood having descended upon the snowy slopes of Park City, Utah to unveil what promise to be some of the most exciting movies of 2019.

Now, seven days and dozens of premieres into the festival, we’ve rounded up the most superlative titles in this year’s star-studded lineup of indies — from rousing crowd-pleasers and harrowing documentaries to fantastically left-field genre entries. Read on for the best, wildest, and weirdest that Sundance has to offer.

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Credit: Nick Wall/Warner Bros.

Biggest Crowd-Pleaser
Blinded by the Light
A thunderous standing ovation greeted the premiere of Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s joyful musical, the story of a British-Pakistani teenager in ‘80s England who falls in unlikely love with the music of Bruce Springsteen. The script, based on a memoir by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, got the Boss’s own approval — and hence, the rights to all his songs; New Line just bought it for $15 million, which means you should (God and hungry hearts willing) be able to experience it theaters soon. — Leah Greenblatt

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Credit: Sundance Institute

Most Meta Movie Experiences
Big Time Adolescence and Honey Boy
For sheer leave-it-all-on-the-screen factor, it was hard to beat Big Time, a comedy starring SNL’s Pete Davidson as a guy who behaves a whole lot like Pete Davidson, and Honey Boy, a movie scripted by Shia LaBeouf about his troubled childhood in which he also plays his own abusive father. Though Big Time generally stayed on the safer shores of comedy, both offered flawed but fascinating windows into their stars’ psyches. — LG

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Credit: Peter Prato/A24

Most Unforgettable
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Director Joe Talbot’s episodic study of race, gentrification, and male friendship (made under the shingle of Brad Pitt’s production company) is plotted only in the loosest, most impressionistic sense. But it still felt like one of the richest stories at Sundance: gorgeously shot, keenly felt, and utterly original in both style and execution. — LG

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Credit: Rachel Lears/Sundance Institute

Most Inspiring
Knock Down the House
Try making it through Rachel Lears’ documentary, about four fearless working-class women challenging powerful incumbents in the 2018 primaries, without getting fully fired up. It certainly helps that one of Lears’ subjects is cultural-political phenomenon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — and it doesn’t even hurt, surprisingly, that we know how it all ends before the race has even begun. — Mary Sollosi

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Credit: Jon Pack/Sundance Institute

Best Comedy on Two Legs
Brittany Runs a Marathon
Remember how you felt about the last couple Amy Schumer movies? Wipe the slate and start again with Brittany, in which Jillian Bell’s party girl gets a harsh reality check from her doctor and decides to change her life, one hard-earned half mile at a time. News broke mid-festival that Amazon has paid $14 million for the privilege of streaming Paul Downs Colaizzo’s smart, supremely winning comedy later this year; they spent their money well. — LG

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Credit: Tamara Hardman/Sundance Institute

Drunkest Girls at the Party

The unique intimacy of female friendship takes center stage in Sophie Hyde’s profane adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s 2014 novel, in which a pair of boozy BFFs in Dublin grows apart as one begins to wonder whether it’s time for the party to end and the other clings that much harder to their shared lifestyle of drinks, drugs, and general codependence. To their credit, Hyde and Unsworth (who adapted the screenplay herself) don’t let the girls off too easy, refusing to offer a tidy fix — or an apology — for their gloriously messy existence. — MS

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Credit: A24

Best Surprise Dramatic Chops
Awkwafina in The Farewell
In addition to being one of the biggest breakouts and earliest sales (to A24) of the fest, writer-director Lulu Wang’s debut dramedy was also a winning example of that classic career move, Comedian Gets Serious. In this case, Awkwafina ditched her frenzied delivery and wacky wardrobe from Crazy Rich Asians to play Billi, a young Chinese-American woman deeply conflicted about her family’s decision to conceal a terminal cancer diagnosis from her ailing grandmother. — MS

Miramax Boss
Credit: Barbara Alper/Getty Images/Sundance Institute

Most Disturbing
After more than a year of #MeToo, it’s easy to be inured to the hard facts of Harvey Weinstein’s wrongdoing; yes, he was a Hollywood monster. What else do we need to know? But what this BBC-funded doc shows in excruciating detail is exactly how he was allowed to get as far as he did, and exactly what impact that had on his alleged victims — whose riveting testimonials form the backbone of Ursala McFarlane’s methodical, unmissable takedown. — LG

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Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon

Best Whistleblower Combo
The Report and Official Secrets
Two well-wrought dramas — The Report, starring Adam Driver Driver and Annette Bening, and Official Secrets, with Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, and Matt Smith — offered Transatlantic companion pieces rooted in recent true-life history: The plight of lone government workers who chose to speak truth to unlawful power in the wake of 9/11. The strongest of the two, the Driver-driven Report, has already been claimed by Amazon.— LG

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Credit: Parrish Lewis/Sundance Institute

Most Empathetic
Blockers’ Geraldine Viswanathan shines in writer-director Minhal Baig’s tender coming-of-age drama about a Muslim Pakistani-American girl that’s as universal as it is hyper-specific. Inspired by Baig’s own teenage experience and executive-produced by Jada Pinkett-Smith, the highly personal film was picked by Apple in the company’s first deal of the fest. — MS

Credit: Agatha A. Nitecka

Best Acting Debut
Honor Swinton Byrne in The Souvenir
Impeccable taste runs in the family, it seems: Tilda Swinton’s daughter Honor Swinton-Byrne makes her dazzling debut (alongside Tilda, playing her on-screen mother) in Joanna Hogg’s exquisite cine-memoir of a doomed love affair from her film-school days. Snapped up by A24 before the festival even began, and with production on a sequel (featuring Robert Pattinson!) set to begin this summer, you should be able to catch it onscreen this year; this Souvenir is one to treasure. — MS

Sundance Institute
Credit: Manolo Pavn/Sundance Institute

Best Dressed
Paradise Hills
Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza González, and Danielle Macdonald are patients — or prisoners, if you like — at a sinister fairy-tale reform school for girls run by a wicked-queenly Milla Jovovich in Spanish director Alice Waddington’s feature debut. The visual language of Waddington’s dystopia speaks loudest in the form of its lavish wardrobe, from the girls’ corseted cages of uniforms to the increasingly elaborate floral confections worn by the headmistress. — MS

Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019 movie)
Bell brings a real, messy humanity to Brittany that comedies hardly ever allow a lead character — let alone a non-impossibly-bodied female — to have.
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