The 2023 Sundance Film Festival ended on a high note. As things slowly get back to a pre-pandemic state, Sundance returns to claim its spot as the first film festival in any given year, the home for respected and daring independent films that often go a long way after their splashy debuts.

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This year, Sundance brought a collection of profound and varied pictures that made a strong impression on critics and audiences. These films came out of the festival with solid reviews and left their mark on the festival's crowd: some were already purchased by major studios, hinting at a promising commercial and critical performance in the next months.

1 'Magazine Dreams'

Magazine Dreams Jonathan Majors
Image via Sundance

Jonathan Majors will have a stellar 2023. Not only will he make his big-screen debut as Kang in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but he'll also co-star alongside Michael B. Jordan in Creed III. However, Majors' most intriguing project might be Magazine Dreams, the story of an amateur bodybuilder struggling to form human connections.

Magazine Dreams received positive reviews upon its premiere at Sundance, with special praise for Majors' performance. Compared to Taxi Driver and other character-driven studies on the male psyche, Magazine Dreams will surely make an impact when it goes wide.

2 'Infinity Pool'

A young woman and a man sinlking in a pool in the poster for Infinity Pool.
Image via Neon

Leave it to Brandon Cronenberg to make one of Sundance's most controversial and talked-about movies. Starring Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth, two actors whose names are quickly becoming synonyms of the "not for everyone" genre, Infinity Pool follows a couple who venture outside their vacation resort guided by a young woman, only to discover dangerous and dark secrets waiting for them.

Infinity Pool received positive reviews, but critics warned about the film's polarizing and off-putting themes that will make it a less-than-pleasant experience for mainstream audiences. Still, fans of Conenberg's now-distinctive style will surely get their money's worth.

3 'Past Lives'

A man and a woman talking aboard a ship in the film Past Lives.

Celine Song's directorial debut, Past Lives, stars Greta Lee, Lee Yo, and John Magaro. The plot centers on Nora and Hae Sung, childhood friends separated after her family moves from South Korea. Reuniting 20 years later, they rekindle their intense connection for one fateful week.

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Past Lives earned rave reviews from critics, perhaps the best of this year's festival. Critics praised Song's screenplay, with reviews praising the handling of its subject without going into dated clichés. Past Lives will be distributed by A24, meaning it has a real shot at making a serious impression on audiences loyal to the always-reliable company.

4 'Eileen'

Two women dancing at a party in the film Eileen.
Image via Sundance

Anne Hathaway has spent the better part of a decade starring in good-to-average films where she is consistently the best part, and Eileen is not the exception. A psychological thriller based on the eponymous 2015 novel, Eileen follows the titular character, a young woman working at a prison in 1960s New England, who forms a connection with a newly-arrived and captivating counselor.

Eileen received positive reviews from critics. According to most critics, Hathaway was a highlight of the film, although praise also went to the script's sharp wit and successful mix of horror and comedy. Eileen will be released later this year, meaning Hathaway could get some attention come the 2024 awards season.

5 'You Hurt My Feelings'

A woman looking pensive at a bar counter in You Hurt My Feelings

Nicole Holfcener has never made a bad film. The writer-director presented her newest picture, You Hurt My Feelings, at Sundance. It stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her second collaboration with Holofcener following Enough Said. The film centers on Beth, a writer and teacher facing marital struggles after her husband's brutally honest opinion about her newest book.

You Hurt My Feelings has been described as a brilliant showcase for the comedic genius of Louis-Dreyfus. The actor has more than conquered television, but recognition for her film work hasn't come yet. By now, Holfcener is a guarantee, and her work as a director and writer has also been heavily praised, making You Hurt My Feelings a must-watch for fans of adult comedies.

6 'Passages'

Ben Whishaw looking at another man sitting on a bed in the movie Passages

The self-absorbed and self-destructive artist trope is common in movies. However, the French drama Passages adds a twist by involving issues of identity and sexuality into the mix. The plot centers on a gay couple, Franz Rohowski and Ben Whishaw, whose lives are thrown into disarray after one has an affair with a young woman, played by Adele Exarchopoulous.

Passages received positive reviews for director Ira Sachs' handling of the film's thorny subjects. Especially notorious was a sex scene between Rohowski and Whishaw's characters, destined to break the internet once the film premieres to wide audiences.

7 'Cassandro'

A male wrestler spreading his arms in joy on the ring in the film Cassandro.
Image via Prime Video

Mexican star Gael García Bernal returns to his indie and experimental roots with Roger Ross Williams' biopic Cassandro. The film tells the real-life story of Cassandro, the stage persona of gay American-born Mexican wrestler Saul Armendáriz, who rose to international stardom.

Cassandro earned rave reviews from critics, with significant praise for García Bernal's performance and the film's treatment of its larger-than-life inspiration. The film will premiere on Prime Video later this year and could take García Bernal back to the awards conversation if the studio plays its cards right.

8 'Cat Person'

A man and a woman standing on the street at night and looking at each other in the film Cat Person.
Image via Sundance

Nicholas Braun and Emilia Jones star in Susanna Fogel's Cat Person. Based on the now-infamous 2017 New Yorker short story of the same name, Cat Person chronicles the relationship between a twenty-year-old sophomore and an older man she meets at the movie theater where she works.

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Described as off-putting and cringe-worthy, Cat Person has all the makings for a future cult classic. The film will surely spark a conversation among audiences once it releases, and it might not be the best discourse. However, the film is not trying to be "good" or "bad," which will only make it more tantalizing for audiences and critics.

9 'Fair Play'

Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich in an image for the movie Fair Play

The erotic thriller has been on a downward spiral since its '90s heyday, and recent offerings have done little to restore its tarnished reputation. However, Chloe Domont's Fair Play might be the one to bring the genre back from the dead. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor as a married couple struggling after one gets a high-profile promotion over the other.

Domont's film received very positive reviews in Sundance, leading to a massive acquisition by Netflix for $20 million. Only time will tell if the streamer can make the best of the film's intriguing premise or if it'll be another Deep Water.

10 'Flora and Son'

Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon Levitt talking in the film Flora and Son

Flora and Son is among Sundance 2023's most celebrated entries. Described as heartwarming and irresistible, the film follows a single mother who bridges her struggling relationship with her son thanks to a discarded guitar found in the dumpster. Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jack Reynor star in the film, directed by John Carney, back after a seven-year absence following Sing Street.

Apple TV+ has bought the right to Flora and Son and will release it later this year. It's unclear if the streamer will take advantage of the film's goodwill from Sundance – they failed miserably with last year's equally buzzy Cha Cha Real Smooth. However, considering the talent involved, Flora and Son might be buzzy enough on its own.

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