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Best of the Fest

Sundance is always a great indicator of what indie films we’ll be hearing a lot more about, so we sent some experts to suss out which films were the most buzzworthy.

Sundance is always a great indicator of what indie films we’ll be hearing a lot more about, so we sent some experts to suss out which films were the most buzzworthy.

‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’
Elizabeth Olsen (yes, related to those Olsens) got people talking with her performance in writer-director Sean Durkin’s mind-bender about a girl who may or may not be getting stalked by members of a commune she abandoned. John Hawkes is even more terrifying in this film as the cult — err, commune — leader than he was in 2010’s Sundance favorite “Winter’s Bone,” which just earned an Oscar nomination.

‘Pariah’
Adepero Oduye gave another one of this year’s most talked-about performances in writer-director Dee Rees’ “Pariah.” The film tells the story of Alike, an African-American teen from Brooklyn who is coming to terms with her homosexuality. It was rarely sentimental and nearly always pitch-perfect.

‘Old Cats’
The freshest faces at Sundance might not be the youngest. “Old Cats,” by Chilean writer-directors Sebastian Silva and Pedro Peirano, features superb acting by Belgica Castro (one of Chile’s best theater actresses) and Claudia Celedon. The film is a black comedy about the relationship between Isadora (Castro), an aging mother and her daughter Rosario, a drug addicted misfit looking for a handout. The two treat each other with a ferocity that is little seen in polite company but creates a sincere visceral tension.

‘The Troll Hunter’
If you’ve been saying to yourself, “What the world needs now is a faux found footage documentary about a Norwegian man who hunts and kills trolls,” then this was your year at Sundance. Director Andre Ovredal delivered the most fun, most jaw-dropping experience at this year’s fest.

‘Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times’
The documentary slate at Sundance is always strong, and this year was no different. The best by far was “Page One,” which takes an inside look at how the Times has adapted — and failed to adapt — to the realities of the wired and wireless world. Columnist David Carr gets more screen time than any other staffer, and with good reason. He was one of the most entertaining characters to watch at this year’s festival.