Sadly, the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival has come to a close. I watched 27 films from this year’s fest and I’m selecting my favorites. Here are the best performances, best direction and best film.
And fingers crossed to attending this fun, fast-paced festival in person next year.
Best Performance by an Actress
Winner: Ann Dowd, Mass
Ann Dowd gives one of the most haunting performances I’ve ever seen in Mass. She took on this difficult role, as the parent of a school shooter and handled it with ease. We see her attempt to explain, understand and capture what happened all while showing empathy and compassion towards the family. It is nothing short of remarkable.
Runner up: Robin Wright, Land
Best Performance by an Actor
Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
This is Daniel Kaluuya’s world — we’re just living in it. In this film, viewers feel an adrenaline rush when he’s on-screen because of his commitment and passion for the role of Fred Hampton. Kaluuya gave a career-defining performance in this breathtaking film.
Runner Up: Christopher Abbott and Jerrod Carmichael, On the Count of Three
Winner: Jarrod Carmichael, On the Count of Three
Carmichael’s direction was powerful within his first time behind the camera. He was able to layer this mental illness journey, friendship and love in a breathtaking way that we’ve never seen before. I’m excited for film lovers to see his work and what’s next for him.
Runner Up: Shaka King – Judas and the Black Messiah
Winners: On the Count of Three and Judas and the Black Messiah
It was not easy to pick the Best Film from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival but, ultimately, I had to pick two. These were each the best — in very different ways. Judas and the Black Messiah is a powerful, timely journey into an eerily similar world we are still living in. On the Count of Three tackles mental health in a way that shows that it’s okay for men not to be okay. It’s another very powerful story.
That’s why both of these were the best. They each had knockout performances, impressive direction and beautifully written screenplays. These were some of t