Apple TV Plus just got one of the best movies of the year — and it’s 96% on Rotten Tomatoes

(L-R) Isabel DeRoy-Olson as Roki and Lily Gladstone as Jax in "Fancy Dance" now streaming on Apple TV Plus
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple TV Plus is one of the best streaming services thanks to its fantastic selection of gripping TV shows across multiple genres. However, the platform’s library of original movies has always been a little weaker with only a few standouts worth watching. 

Fortunately, that list of must-watch flicks just got a little bigger thanks to “Fancy Dance," a new drama starring Lily Gladstone that landed on Apple TV Plus last week (Friday, June 28). This movie is sensational and boasts some of the strongest reviews of the year. 

If you’re looking for a new movie to stream over the weekend, then “Fancy Dance” on Apple TV Plus is the clear frontrunner. Here’s why this soulful drama deserves to be at the very top of your watchlist…

What is 'Fancy Dance' about? 

Fancy Dance — Official Trailer | Apple TV+ - YouTube Fancy Dance — Official Trailer | Apple TV+ - YouTube
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The feature film debut of director Erica Tremblay, “Fancy Dance” is a powerful drama about the unbreakable bonds of family, the tight-knit reservation community, and the Native American experience. It’s a mix of interesting elements that blend well. 

Lily Gladstone plays Jax, a woman with a checkered past, living on the Seneca–Cayuga Nation Reservation in Oklahoma and caring for her niece Roki (Isabel DeRoy-Olson) in the absence of her missing sister, Tawi (Hauli Sioux Gray). Jax is desperately searching for any trace of her sister, while also preparing Roki for an upcoming powwow.  

However, Jax's world is thrown into further turmoil when she faces losing custody of Roki as the authorities deem her an unfit guardian due to her criminal past and instead want Roki to live with her grandfather (Shea Whigham). With time against them, the pair embark on a road trip in a last-ditch effort to locate Tawi. 

'Fancy Dance' is an awards-caliber movie 

Lily Gladstone as Jax in "Fancy Dance" now streaming on Apple TV Plus

(Image credit: Apple)

Lily Gladstone already proved her immense acting chops in 2023’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” (also an Apple TV Plus original movie), but “Fancy Dance” proves that she can carry an entire feature herself, and do so with seeming ease. Her performance grounds “Fancy Dance” and resonates with searing emotional depth and an almost palpable quiet anger. 

The movie’s comments on the struggle of Native Americans in our current society feel timely and vital. These points are explored with great sensitivity, but also in a way that doesn’t feel hamfisted or overly sentiment. To Tremblay's credit, “Fancy Dance” is reflective and remarkably raw. 

Some viewers might find the opening portion a little slow, but I enjoyed how the movie takes its time to set up its characters and the world they live in. However, things kick into gear in the second act when Jax and Roki hit the road, and from here “Fancy Dance” grips completely, not letting go until its satisfying final moment. 

“Fancy Dance” is a special movie. It lacks any sweeping narrative moments, but it finds great success as an imitate character-driven drama, and while the road Jax and Roki travel isn’t full of surprises, you’ll find yourself almost effortlessly caring about their cause. 

And seriously, if Lily Gladstone isn’t getting a slew of acting nominations (And a few wins) for her performance, I will write a letter of complaint to every awards body that failed to recognize her breathtaking work. The same goes for DeRoy-Olson too. 

'Fancy Dance' reviews — critics adore this Apple Original

“Fancy Dance” premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, and critics have been raving about it ever since. It currently holds a remarkable 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes, which makes it among the best-reviewed streaming movies of the year. Its audience score is also high at 81%, though this comes from a relatively small sample size of just over 50 reviews. 

Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune was full of praise for the movie’s two leads and its director, saying “Gladstone, Deroy-Olson and Tremblay have found a way to breathe real life into that story.” And Jourdain Searles of offered a similarly positive write-up: “Tremblay’s narrative debut is simply beautiful, and hopefully, there’s much more to come.”

AV Club’s Elijah Gonzalez felt it portrayed life on the Seneca-Cayuga Nation reservation “through an unflinchingly real, non-idealized lens”, while Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter labeled the Apple TV movie “an authentically observant slice of reservation life.” 

As the movie’s RT score indicates, most reviews are positive, but on the more mixed end of the scale was Kyle Smith of The Wall Street Journal who argued the movie lacks “depth” and struggles to combine its narrative elements into a cohesive whole. 

Stream 'Fancy Dance' on Apple TV Plus now

(L-R) Isabel DeRoy-Olson as Roki and Lily Gladstone as Jax in "Fancy Dance" now streaming on Apple TV Plus

(Image credit: Apple)

I find it humorous that Apple TV Plus has gone from offering subscribers my current pick for worst movie of the year (“Argylle”) to now giving access to a sterling drama that deeply resonates, and features powerful performances at its core, and is among the year’s very best to date. Talk about leaping from one extreme to the other! 

“Fancy Dance” isn’t just the best Apple original movie of 2024 so far, it’s one of the service’s best original efforts, period. It’s a vital watch and tells its important story impeccably well. If you have an Apple TV Plus account, you’re doing yourself a disservice not streaming it as soon as possible. And if you don’t have a subscription, “Fancy Dance” is worth signing up for a month on its own. Plus, then you can binge-watch my favorite Apple TV Plus show afterward. 

If you’ve watched “Fancy Dance” already, or just fancy some further viewing recommendations then check out our list of the best Apple TV Plus movies.  

You can stream "Fancy Dance" on Apple TV Plus right now

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.