“Sugar,” Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s follow-up to “Half Nelson,” delivers on the promise of their first film, full of all the conviction, subtlety and humanist impulses that made their debut so rewarding. For more, here’s my indieWIRE review. My “Ballast” review is also up now, and of all the Dramatic Competition films I saw (and even those I didn’t see), I’d bet these are the best, and strongest contenders for the festival’s Grand Jury Prize. If “Half Nelson” left Park City empty-handed two years ago, perhaps “Sugar” will go on to sweet victory. Not that a Sundance award matters much, of course.
The other film that deserves a shout-out is “Anvil! The Story of Anvil.” No other film that I saw at Sundance brought me to tears as much as “Anvil!” (though I missed everyone’s favorite Katrina doc “Trouble the Water.”) I laughed, I cried, yes I did. Steve “Lips” Kudlow, a Canadian Jewish heavy-metal rocker who at one time was the envy of everyone from Slash to Metallica to Anthrax, wears his emotions on his sleeve. Almost too funny (or sad) to be believed, “Anvil” plays like “This is Spinal Tap” meets “American Movie” meets “Some Kind of Monster,” a hilarious and moving tribute to two 50-year-old guys who won’t give up on their dream.