Sundance 2014: The Ten Best Films

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Matthew Crawley's a killer in one of our favorite Sundance films.
For Robert Redford, Sundance's opening day was a bummer. He woke up to learn the Academy had snubbed him for a (deserved) Best Actor nod for the sparse yachting drama All Is Lost, and had to spend his typically triumphant morning press conference swatting down questions about being sad. Luckily for the rest of us, the festival was a smash, or at least a sizzle. There wasn't a surefire champion, but most films earned warm, welcoming buzz that buyers stoked by writing check after check. Five years ago, covering Sundance was like selling a mote of gold: A film might be the real deal but was almost impossible for anyone else to see. Thanks to VOD, now odds are that everyone can (eventually) catch the best of the fest. Here are ten you shouldn't miss.

Calvary -- The McDonagh brothers, Martin (who wrote and directed In Bruges) and John Michael (who wrote and directed The Guard and this), specialize in bleak, witty thrillers given gravitas by actor Brendan Gleeson. It's a specific niche, and a great one. In Calvary, Gleeson plays a small town Irish priest warned he'll be murdered in a week. He knows who's angry, he knows he's blameless, and he refuses to run.

Fed Up -- We've conquered cigarettes and tamed weed. The new public enemy is sugar. This doc attacks the food industry by frightening us with the facts: the rise in Type 2 diabetes among children, the obesity-related drop in life expectancy. Warns a nutritionist, "If a foreign nation were doing this to our kids, we'd go to war." Maybe we should.

The Voices -- After the Oscar-nominated cartoon Persepolis, director Marjane Satrapi about-faces with this savage comedy about schizophrenia. Ryan Reynolds stars as a recluse whose talking cat orders him to kill. It's all fun and games until people start dying -- and then shaken-up attendees started walking out. A bold blend of laughter, tragedy, and empathy that makes this a must-see.

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