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14 films we’re most excited to see at Sundance this year

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival, the 40th edition of the world’s most celebrated showcase of independent cinema, kicks off on January 18. There’s a new festival director, Eugene Hernandez, running the show, and those who have followed Sundance’s various ripples over the years are curious to see how Hernandez will reorient an event that started small but has grown into a blockbuster. So what films could make it to this year’s special anniversary edition? Let’s look at it.

love me

A teenage blockbuster idol has become a champion of independent film Kristen Stewart has two films at the festival. A sci-fi romance premieres first love mefrom the directors Andy and Alone Zuchero. The film has one of the most interesting storylines at this year’s Sundance: it’s about a satellite and a buoy that, long after humans have gone extinct, communicate with each other and gradually—we’re told—over billions of years—fall in love. . In human form, they are embodied by Stewart and Steven Yeun, perhaps as perfect an indie pair as 2024 festival-goers could hope for. The film takes a mixed bag approach to its story, which may be just the kind of different filmmaking that people travel to Sundance to discover. On paper, love me seems to be one of the most talked about films at the festival.

Love Lies Bleeding

Stewart’s diptych «love» completes the thriller-romance Pink glasswhose first film was an acclaimed horror film Saint Maud. Love Lies Bleeding seems to be more in spirit Badlands or Natural Born Killersfollowing a gym manager (Stewart) who meets and falls in love with a bodybuilder (Katy O’Brian), setting them both on a path of destruction. Does he destroy himself or others? We’re not entirely sure, but we’ve been promised plenty of graphic sex and violence, which may be just as essential a part of the Sundance equation as, say, quirky family comedies. We’re hoping for shock and awe, which Glass definitely managed to deliver.

The Outrun

Last Saoirse Ronan had a film at Sundance — period drama 2015 Brooklyn-a year later she received an Oscar nomination for it. This year, Ronan returns with Nora Fingscheidt‘with The Outrunbased on the award-winning, best-selling monographs by Amy Liptrot. Ronan plays a troubled alcoholic who returns to her native Orkney Islands to rediscover herself and the world. The film promises plenty of natural beauty to complement Ronan’s performance, which will have him raging and partying in the past while quietly rebuilding in the present. It’s a pretty full gamut that Ronan should handle with her usual dexterity and intuitive compassion.

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Ghostlight

At the far softer end of the spectrum is the film from Alex Thompson and Kelly O’Sullivanwhose last film was a moving, gentle drama Saint Frances (which you really should see if you haven’t). Thompson and O’Sullivan hail from the emerging Chicago film school and join the ranks Stephen Cone as similarly wise and empathetic chroniclers of closely watched humanity. Ghostlight concerns a middle-aged man experiencing grief while acting in a community theater production Romeo and Juliet. It’s hard to get theater people directly to film, but enough people get involved Ghostlightincluding stars Keith Kupfererare also involved with Steppenwolf, that we have high hopes that they will do the weird and wonderful world justice.

Wild stories

directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are Sundance veterans who have screened three previous films at the festival (including Half Nelsonwho helped make a star Ryan Gosling) before venturing into the realm of blockbusters to direct captain marvel. Now they’re returning to their indie roots, albeit probably with a bigger budget than they had in the early days. Wild stories is an Oakland-based anthology film that blends horror, comedy, drama and ’80s nostalgia into a «mixtape,» according to the festival’s official description. Pedro Pascal, Jay Ellisand not less than Normani Kordei Hamilton (better known as Normani of Fifth Harmony) are among the acts that guarantee the opening night of the festival will have at least a few stars. We look forward to seeing if Boden and Fleck can do the indie magic again.

I saw the TV glow

Writer-director Jane Schoenbrunfirst movie We’re all going to the World’s Fair, was a haunting dive into the Internet that, fittingly enough, premiered at the 2021 online-only Sundance Film Festival. The film became a cult hit, revered for its fresh take on digital life and its disturbing exploration of the dark side of memetic culture. Schoenbrun explores similar themes in I saw the TV glowabout a teenager (Judge Smith), who becomes obsessed with a supernatural television show. We’re hoping for the same haunting, exploratory mood that Scheobrun brought World exhibitionanother sudden and alarming revelation of How We All (or Some of Us, Anyway) Live Now.

Real pain

The family outing is a well-worn Sundance genre, best exemplified by the smash hit Little Miss Sunshine 18 years ago. The form has offered diminishing returns since then, but we’re still excited to see it Real painthe actor’s second directorial effort Jesse Eisenberg. His first film, When you’re done saving the world, was a sharp and tender mother-son comedy that suggested Eisenberg had a true directorial eye. We’ll see if it pans out Real painin which two cousins ​​(Eisenberg and Kieran Culkin) embark on a journey across Poland to explore their family history, particularly as it relates to the Holocaust. That may sound a bit much Everything is illuminated, but we’d expect less sentiment and whimsy from Eisenberg. It seems more likely Real pain will trade in bickering and dyspepsia, strengths of both Eisenberg and Culkin—the latter of whom has only made one more film since jumping aboard the rocket ship that was Sequence.

Introducing Forgiveness

Debut feature from acclaimed visual artist Titus Kaphar, Introducing Forgiveness offers a show of actors André Holland, one of those artists who is great at everything—you miss him when he’s not on screen—but hasn’t gotten the lead roles he deserves. Holland finally found this opportunity with Introducing Forgiveness, in which he plays an artist who tries to reconcile with his difficult father through his work. Perhaps there is some autobiography to suggest a personal, deeply felt film. It sounds like the perfect vehicle for Holland, an actor who brings a quiet intensity to all of his work.

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My old ass

Writer-director Megan ParkThe first feature film was a school shooting drama Fallout, which approached the charged topic sensitively and nuancedly. Park is going a little lighter for his second feature film starring Aubrey Plaza as an older incarnation of a teenager (Maisy Stella), who hallucinates on mushrooms. It’s kind of a «what you might ask your older self» kind of setup that can be either clever or monstrous. Based Falloutbut we have hope My old ass will provide insight rather than indifference. Plaza has shown discerning taste of late, so her involvement is also a good sign.

Presence

Director Steven SoderberghCareer was probably realized at Sundance in 1989 when his sex, lies and videotape premiered at the festival. 35 years later, Soderbergh returns with a ghost story set in one location. Soderbergh’s genre noodling is typically fascinating, whether he’s doing a mystery (Side effects), action (Broken), or thriller (Kimi). Horror seems like the next logical step for the admirably peripatetic director. It is also tempting that he is one of the main actors of the film Lucy Liuwho really should make more cool indies like this.

Make peace

Chiwetel EjioforThe director’s second film is based on the biography of Robert Peace, a bright Yale student who struggled with his ties to the drug trade in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey. It’s a tale of double consciousness that Ejiofor adapted from a biography Jeff Hobbs. If one simply has to be cynical and watch out for Sundance award potential, Make peace seems well placed. The title role is played by an up-and-comer Jay Will, which appeared in his second feature film. At the same time, there is a possibility of escape Mary J. Blige can win awards again (after being nominated for an Oscar Muddywhich premiered at Sundance) for the role of Peace’s mother.

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Will and Harper

In this documentary, the actor Will Ferrell and his best friend Harper Steele take a cross-country road trip to reassess their relationship after Steele comes out as a trans woman. He directs the film Josh Greenbaumwho used to make absurd comedies He wanders and Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. We’re not sure exactly what tone to expect here, though the fact that this is an unscripted film might suggest that the antics, if any, will be on a relatively human scale.

Thelma

June Squibb She was nominated for an Oscar for her breakthrough performance in Alexander Payne‘with Nebraska at the age of 84. Now 94 years old, she has landed her first major film role. Which is exciting in itself, albeit a writer-director assumption Josh MargolinThe film is also interesting: Squibb plays a woman who falls victim to a phone scam and goes on a road trip with her grandson (Fred Hechinger, of White lotus fame) to get her money back. That seems like the perfect vehicle for Squibb’s brand of peppery bravado, and the perfect kind of crowd to drive Sundance audiences wild.

Skywalkers: A Love Story

For those not sufficiently horrified by a climbing documentary Free Solo– or those looking for their next vicarious adrenaline rush – here it is Jeff Zimbalist‘s documentary that will give you the same giddiness all over again. The film is about a couple who, against many laws, climb very tall buildings and document their daring (and stupid) actions on the Internet. Zimbalist follows them as they plan their next huge stunt, making it something of a «heist» movie in official festival parlance. Regardless of genre, The Skywalkers It should make us more dizzy than we already are at mountain altitude.



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