Every year, the Sundance Film Festival hosts an impressive number of independent films, documentaries, and short films from all around the world. Titles like The Usual Suspects, Memento, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Napoleon Dynamite, Super-Size Me, Saw, and Little Miss Sunshine have all found success at the world-renowned festival. So it’s no surprise that this years line-up is definitely keeping with that reputation. A number of documentaries, including the Amir Bar-Lev’s Grateful Dead tribute Long Strange Trip and Jeff Orlowski’s follow-up to his 2012 Chasing Ice feature, Chasing Coral, have already premiered to great praise from festival attendees and critics alike. At the same time, a number of films have already been purchased for distribution, including Patti Cake$ by former doorman-turned-filmmaker Wass Stevens, which sold to Fox Searchlight for $10.5 million! Here are a few of the festival entries that have caught our eye for expanded release. We’ll post more information about domestic releases as we get further into the year.
Wilson is a comedy from director Craig Johnson, written by- and based on Daniel Clowes’ graphic comics of the same name. It stars Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Hunger Games) as a brutally honest, middle-aged asshole who discovers he and had a daughter with his estranged wife. Together the two set out to find her and attempt to be a family in some way or another. Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Wild) and Judy Greer (The Village, The Descendants) also star in the film, which will see release in theaters nationwide this March.
Based on a novel by Lissa Evans, Their Finest finds a British film crew attempting to boost the morale of Allied soldiers in World War II by making an impromptu propaganda film following the Blitzkrieg. Acclaimed director Lone Scherfig directed the film, which stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, and Bill Nighy. Look for this one in theaters this March.
Dee Rees’s Mudbound, based on the 2008 novel by Hillary Jordan, follows a white family and a black family living in Mississippi following World War II. Both have sons that return from the war that must deal with readjusting to civilian life, with racism, and with the Reconstruction era and still in-force Jim Crow laws of the Deep South.
I Am Not Your Negro
James Baldwin was an iconic, yet reserved leader during the Civil Rights Movement. His last work, Remember This House, which was still unfinished at the time of his death, is fully realized in this documentary from director Raoul Peck. It is seeing a release in theaters this February 3rd, so look for it at your local theater.
Charlie McDowell’s futuristic film ponders the question of what you would do with your life if there was definitive proof of life after death? It includes an all-star cast led by Jason Segel (Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carol), and Robert Redford (The Sting, Indecent Proposal), who must evidently choose to fight for life and love, or join the millions of people committing suicide in order to discover the afterlife. This one will be available on Netflix on March 31st.
Wind River is screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water)’s directorial debut, and audiences have had nothing but praise for the mystery-thriller that finds the FBI investigating a murder on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, and Jeremy Renner lead the cast.
Even if you’re not into romances, this one looks pretty cool. It follows a couple who are having problems with their marriage and decide to form a band and write songs based on their fights and emotional turmoil. The film stars, and is written and directed by Zoe-Lister Jones and Adam Pally.
Manifesto is a collage of vignettes that features characters reciting various manifestos by various artists, writers, architects, and filmmakers. The catch is that Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, Carol) performs as different characters in all 13 vignettes. Intriguing right? If you’re really into artsy films, definitely add this one to your list.