18 movies you need to know about this year coming out of the Sundance Film Festival
PARK CITY, Utah — It's that time again when Hollywood heads to this ski town to showcase the best that independent film has to offer at the Sundance Film Festival, currently underway.
Last year’s fest gave us the world premieres of current award-season staples like “Manchester by the Sea” and “OJ: Made in America.” As new titles go from unknown to suddenly jumping on our must-see list at the 2017 festival, we'll be writing about it right here.
For now, here are 18 movies we think you’ll want to seek out:
“A Ghost Story”
Following his first studio movie, Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon,” indie-film titan David Lowery has secretly made a low-budget thriller starring Casey Affleck as a ghost who returns home to watch over his grief-stricken lover, played by Rooney Mara. Expect a gothic feel, which Lowery has built his career mastering.
A24 will release later this year.
“An Inconvenient Sequel”
A decade after Al Gore brought climate change to the nation’s attention with the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth,” his follow-up comes to Sundance at a crucial moment in the history of climate-change awareness. With the Trump administration perceived to push back on the progress made to save the environment in the last 10 years, Gore returns to shed light on a topic that can’t be ignored.
Paramount will release later this year.
“The Big Sick”
Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Michael Showalter (“Wet Hot American Summer”), this comedy follows the hilarious but poignant relationship a Pakistan-born man (Kumail Nanjiani, “Silicon Valley”) has with his American girlfriend (Zoe Kazan). The movie is based on the real-life relationship Nanjiani has with fellow comic Emily V. Gordon. With all the talent involved, expect to hear a lot about this one.
“Call Me by Your Name”
Set in 1983 Italy, Armie Hammer plays a 24-year-old American who is interning for the summer in northern Italy. While working under a professor of Greco-Roman culture he quickly falls for his 17-year-old son.
Sony Pictures Classics will release later this year.
Already nabbed by Netflix, this hybrid of fiction and nonfiction delves into the unsolved 20-year-old death of six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. Director Kitty Green looks into the media-obsessed case through the responses, reflections, and even performances from members of the Colorado community the Ramseys live in.
Netflix will air in the spring.
A standout from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the latest movie by director Nacho Vigalondo (“Timecrimes,” “Extraterrestrial”) stars Anne Hathaway as a hard partier who after being dumped heads back to her hometown. She finds work at a bar owned by a childhood friend (Jason Sudeikis), but after a night of heavy drinking she realizes that a giant creature has terrorized Seoul, South Korea, and her own drunk actions may have played a part in the rampage.
Neon will release later this year.
Lakeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”) looks to give one of this year’s most talked-about performances at the fest playing Colin Warner, a man arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison, in this film based on a true story. However, his friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) embarks on a decade-long quest to set Warner free.
Sundance founder Robert Redford plays a renowned physicist who has proven the existence of an afterlife. The events of the movie take place a year after his findings and focuses on characters played by Jason Segel and Rooney Mara as they come to a small New England island for mysterious reasons. If you’re a fan of “The O.A.” this one is for you.
In one of the titles of this year's festival that could grab some award consideration, Sam Elliott plays an aging movie star who spends his time of late talking about the glory days to his former costar-turned-drug dealer (Nick Offerman). But when he's diagnosed with cancer he's suddenly faced with mortality and tries to set things right with his estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter).
“I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”
Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood star in this wacky detective story in which Lynskey plays the victim of a recent burglary who decides to find the culprits on her own with the help of her neighbor, played by Wood. With the teaming of Lynskey and Wood, along with the Coen brothers vibe to the story, we hope this one works.
Netflix will air later this year.
Following up her hit debut “Obvious Child,” writer-director Gillian Robespierre teams once more with Jenny Slate for her new comedy that turns the clock back to 1995 for this coming-of-age story.
“The Little Hours”
Alison Brie, David Franco, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, and Molly Shannon round out this comedy ensemble that’s set in a medieval convent where a new hired hand (Franco) causes the young nuns to go crazy.
“Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and Trials of a Free Press”
On the heels of Hulk Hogan defeating Gawker (thanks to the deep pockets of venture capitalist Peter Thiel) in the court battle over the site posting a sex tape of the former pro-wrestling star, this documentary takes a look behind the growing trend of billionaires who are interfering in the public’s access to the free press.
“Person to Person”
Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson star in this look at a group of New Yorkers as they go through the mundane yet unexpected moments in a single day of their lives.
“The Polka King”
In this film based on the world’s only known Polka Ponzi scheme, Jack Black plays Jan Lewan, a shop owner turned undisputed “King of Pennsylvania Polka” in the early 1990s. However, his empire was built on bribes and fleecing his investors. Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman also star.
“Water & Power: A California Heist”
Director Marina Zenovich (“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”) gives a disturbing look at the reasons California has suffered a water crisis for decades. From the state’s convoluted water structure to the corruption by water barons, Zenovich reveals a modern-day “Chinatown.”
National Geographic will air the movie later this year.
After delivering back-to-back hit screenplays with “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan now gives us his directorial debut with “Wind River.” Starring Jeremy Renner, Elisabeth Olsen, and Jon Bernthal, the action takes place on a Native American reservation where an FBI agent (Olsen) is investigating a murder with the help of a local tracker (Renner).
“The Yellow Birds”
Before playing a young Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich will once more show off his acting chops with this performance as Bartle, a soldier fighting in Iraq with his friend Murph (Tye Sheridan) alongside him. But when Murph doesn’t come home, Bartle is forced to tell what he knows to his mother (Jennifer Aniston).