It’s that time of year again! I am back at the Sundance Film Festival in sunny (but cold) Park City, Utah and while I get settled into my condo and wait for the screenings to begin, I wanted to highlight some of the films I am most looking forward to at the Festival this year! This isn’t to say there won’t be surprises; there always are. Some of my favorite surprises over the past two years have been: SING STREET, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, and SWISS ARMY MAN. And with the over 25 films I am going to try to catch while I am here, I can’t wait to report back on the hits and misses.
As I was writing this list, I kept adding and deleting films because there are just so many interesting movies. But now, without further ado, here are ten films I am most excited for this year at Sundance!
Wind River Writer/Director: Taylor Sheridan Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal
WIND RIVER is probably my most anticipated film at Sundance. I have loved every film Taylor Sheridan has written so far. Both SICARIO and HELL OR HIGH WATER were in my top 3 favorite movies of 2015 and 2016, respectively, so I am very excited to see Sheridan’s directorial debut. Sheridan is at the top of his game when it comes to thrillers, and based on the synopsis, it seems the film will be another murder mystery: An FBI agent teams with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Sparse with details, just the way I like it! The fact that the film stars Elizabeth Olsen is only the cherry on top!
Ingrid Goes West Director: Matt Spicer Writer: Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell
I love movies about fame/Hollywood/Los Angeles, and this one looks to be a doozy. A young woman becomes obsessed with an Instagram “influencer” and moves to Los Angeles to try and befriend her in real life. Definitely a commentary on our current social media-obsessed culture… I can bet INGRID GOES WEST is going to be an easy sell at the Festival, as well as a good movie to see if you want a laugh. Plus, another film with my favorite, Elizabeth Olsen, AND Aubrey Plaza? Sign me up!
A Ghost Story Writer/Director: David Lowery
Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara,
This “secretive” film marks Writer/Director David Lowery’s second film at Sundance, and a return to directing Casey Affleck (AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS). There is little that is known about the film, but being a fan of Lowery’s work with PETE’S DRAGON and AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, I am interested to see what this is about. The synopsis in Sundance’s Film Guide doesn’t tell us much… This is the story of a ghost and the house he haunts. Hmmmmm…
The Little Hours Writer/Director: Jeff Baena
Cast: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon
Jeff Baena is beginning to be a Sundance staple, with films LIFE AFTER BETH (2014) and JOSHY (2016). I interviewed Baena last year for JOSHY, and was quick to to see how smart and funny he is. The promotional image for THE LITTLE HOURS alone is eye-catching, and knowing some of my favorite comediennes will be playing nuns in a comedy makes this a can’t-miss. Since it is playing in the Midnight section, I can only hope/assume there is some sort of horror element. But the less I know, the better!
The Discovery Writer/Director: Charlie McDowell Co-writer: Justin Lader
Cast: Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough, Ron Canada
Charlie McDowell!!!! I am so, so excited for this film. I fell in love with Charlie McDowell’s brilliance when I watched the critically underrated THE ONE I LOVE (available on Netflix Instant!) I have been waiting for his next film ever since, and am so excited to see THE DISCOVERY. As a science-fiction fan, the synopsis of this film sounds very intriguing: In a world where the afterlife has just been scientifically proven—resulting in millions of people taking their own lives to get there—comes this love story. With such an intriguing, creative premise, I think this film has the makings to be a hit at the Festival… and it also helps that it stars the big man himself, Robert Redford.
Landline Writer/Director: Gillian Robespierre Co-Writer: Elisabeth Holm
Cast: Jenny Slate, John Turturro, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock
So excited Sundance has given a voice for female filmmakers, especially Gillian Robespierre. Robespierre’s film OBVIOUS CHILD was one of my favorites in 2014, and I am excited she has again joined with Jenny Slate to bring a film to the big screen. A coming-of-age comedy, starring two women, set in the 90s… my review is already writing itself. What I appreciate most about Robespierre’s work is its relatability, and with an added 90s nostalgia, I can’t wait! PS: I bet the soundtrack is going to be KILLER.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore Writer/Director: Macon Blair
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye
It’s not Sundance without Melanie Lynskey, and this time I think even the powers that be have realized this since her film I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is one of the opening night films! NoVa native, Macon Blair, who starred in the awesome BLUE RUIN and GREEN ROOM (a favorite at last year’s Sundance) makes his directorial debut in a revenge (comedy?): When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves, alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals. Hopefully this one starts off Sundance 2017 with a bang!
Wilson Director: Craig Johnson Writer: Daniel Clowes Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer
Anywhere there is Laura Dern, there will be Lauren Bradshaw. If she films it, Lauren will come. Okay, I’ll stop. But based on the synopsis, I am praying we get some ENLIGHTENMENT-esque Dern mixed with Harrelson’s brutally honest, sarcastic humor! Wilson, a lonely, neurotic, and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope, reunites with his estranged wife and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her. Let’s be real, even if this film was about the infamous volleyball in CASTAWAY bobbing in the sea, I would be there.
The Last Word Director: Mark Pellington Writer: Stuart Ross Fink
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Heche
A seemingly buddy comedy with MacLaine and Seyfriend sounds like something right up my alley! I miss seeing MacLaine in films, especially after recently rewatching POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE! No one does sass like Shirley, and based on the synopsis, I have high hopes for this one: Harriett is a retired businesswoman who tries to control everything around her. When she decides to write her own obituary, a young journalist takes up the task of finding out the truth, resulting in a life-altering friendship.
The Yellow Birds Director: Alexandre Moors Writer: David Lowery, R.F.I Porto
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette, Jennifer Aniston
A modern war film following two young soldiers during the Iraq War and the aftermath of their deployment, THE YELLOW BIRDS is sure to be a tearjerker. With such an incredible cast, and written by David Lowery (PETE’S DRAGON, AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS), I can see this film having legs for awhile after the Festival.
Colossal Director/Screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson
Okay, okay. I couldn’t cut it down to just 10. And can you blame me when there is a film about Anne Hathaway turning into a giant Godzilla? At least that’s what I heard… something something Anne Hathaway… Godzilla. I’ve been trying to avoid reading anything about the film because I want to go in knowing as little as possible. Maybe this will be 2017’s SWISS ARMY MAN, though I doubt anything can be as strange as that film!
And and and there is also a movie called MANIFESTO where Cate Blanchett plays 13 different characters!