Last years Sundance was a fun and rewarding experience. This years Sundance Film Festival, I will – hopefully – be trading the comfort of my home for the brutal Utah winter. Going to Sundance, and being Press at Sundance, has always been a dream of mine, and that dream is so close to becoming reality.
With all that being said, here are the films I am most looking forward too at this years Sundance Film Festival!
U.S.A. (Director: Mimi Cave, Screenwriter: Lauryn Kahn, Producers: Adam McKay, Kevin Messick, Maeve Cullinane) — The horrors of modern dating seen through one young woman’s defiant battle to survive her new boyfriend’s unusual appetites. Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE
Fresh was something that Composer Alex Somers and I spoke about in an interview early 2021. The film premise is extremely interesting, and Somers promised it would be a weird and dark. Really looking forward to this one, and to see Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan working together.
When You Finish Saving the World
U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jesse Eisenberg, Producers: Ali Herting, Dave McCary, Emma Stone) — Evelyn and her oblivious son Ziggy seek out replacements for each other as Evelyn desperately tries to parent an unassuming teenager at her shelter, while Ziggy fumbles through his pursuit of a brilliant young woman at school. Cast: Julianne Moore, Finn Wolfhard. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE
I am an absolute sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and I think Finn Wolfhard is one great role from being considered one of the best young actors working. I also am a sucker for any actor trying their hand at writing/directing, and with someone as interesting as Jesse Eisenberg behind the camera, my excitement is through the roof. Not to mention… JULIANNE FREAKING MOORE!
Cha Cha Real Smooth
U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Cooper Raiff, Producers: Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff) — A directionless college graduate embarks on a relationship with a young mom and her teenage daughter while learning the boundaries of his new bar mitzvah party-starting gig. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Vanessa Burghardt, Evan Assante, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann. World Premiere.
As big of a sucker I am for a coming-of-age story, I’m just as big a fan of dramedy’s. I have loved most of Dakota Johnson’s recent work – Peanut Butter Falcon and The Lost Daughter being the standouts – and I am interested to see her take on what I assume to be a truly leading role. Cooper Raiff’s Shithouse received some very strong critical praise, and I am looking forward to see what he brings to this film.
U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Abi Damaris Corbin, Screenwriter: Kwame Kwei-Armah, Producers: Ashley Levinson, Salman Al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Kevin Turen, Mackenzie Fargo) — When Brian Brown-Easley’s disability check fails to materialize from Veterans Affairs, he finds himself on the brink of homelessness and breaking his daughter’s heart. No other options, he walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and says “I’ve got a bomb.“ Cast: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, Selenis Leyva. World Premiere.
Michael Kenneth Williams played one of President Barrack Obama’s favorite TV Characters in Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire. Willaims tragically passed away in late 2021, and 892 is one of his few final credits. The film’s synopsis is an interesting one and could provide for an extremely tense and anxious film. John Boyega also stars in this film.
U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Kogonada, Producers: Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Paul Mezey, Theresa Park) — In the near future, a father and daughter try to save the life of Yang, their beloved robotic family member. Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith. Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson. North American Premiere. Fiction.
I have to say there is a lot of bias for Haley Lu Richardson and Colin Farrell when it comes to this film. Besides them though, the movie does seem interesting and the A24 stamp of approval does help.
After Yang, screening in the Spotlight section, has also been named the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.
U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Krystin Ver Linden, Producer: Peter Lawson) — When a woman in servitude in 1800s Georgia escapes the 55-acre confines of her captor, she discovers the shocking reality that exists beyond the treeline… it’s 1973. Inspired by true events. Cast: Keke Palmer, Common, Jonny Lee Miller, Gaius Charles. World Premiere.
The similarities to 2020’s Antebellum are there, however, the “inspired by true events” is what really intrigues me. This can be a big miss if not done correctly, but Keke Palmer as producer and lead is exciting.
My Old School
U.K. (Director: Jono McLeod, Producers: John Archer, Olivia Lichtenstein) — The astonishing true story of Scotland’s most notorious imposter. It’s 1993 and 16-year-old Brandon is the new kid in school. Soon he’s top of the class, acing exams and even taking the lead in the school musical. He’s the model pupil, until he’s unmasked… Cast: Alan Cumming. World Premiere. Documentary.
I have to admit I am a little disappointed this isn’t a narrative feature because the premise seems that engaging, but I am more than excited for this documentary to dive into just what the hell is going on. Plus, Alan Cumming as what I assume is the narrator, is pretty exciting.
France (Director and Screenwriter: Audrey Diwan, Screenwriter: Alice Girard, Producers: Edouard Weil, Alice Girard) — France, 1963. Anne is a bright student with a promising future. But when she falls pregnant, she sees the opportunity to escape the constraints of her social background disappearing. With final exams approaching and her belly growing, Anne resolves to act, even if she must risk prison to do so. Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luana Bajrami, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmai. Fiction.
Not to be mistaken with the Mark Wahlberg masterpiece The Happening (please know this is a joke), Happening is the reigning Golden Lion winner out of Venice. I have been excited for this for a while, as the story seems highly emotional and tense. Already with some very great reviews.
U.S.A. (Director: Phyllis Nagy, Screenwriters: Hayley Schore, Roshan Sethi, Producers: Robbie Brenner, David Wulf, Kevin McKeon, Lee Broda, Claude Amadeo, Michael D’Alto) — Chicago, 1968: after having a life-saving secret abortion, a suburban housewife seeks to give women access to healthy and safe abortions through an underground collective of women known as “Jane.” Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Kate Mara, Wunmi Mosaku, Cory Michael Smith. World Premiere. Fiction.
Phyllis Nagy picked up an Oscar nomination for writing 2015’s Carol. With Call Jane, Nagy will be stepping behind the camera rather than behind the keyboard in her feature directorial debut. The film seems interesting, but the cast is what really sparks my interest. Elizabeth Banks is taking on a fully dramatic role – one of my favorite things is comedians moving into dramatic work – and she will also be with Sigourney Weaver and Kate Mara.
U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Andrew Semans, Producers: Tory Lenosky, Alex Scharfman, Drew Houpt, Lars Knudsen, Tim Headington, Lia Buman) — Margaret’s life is in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Soon, her teenage daughter, who Margaret raised by herself, will be going off to a fine university, just as Margaret had intended. Everything is under control. That is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper, Angela Wong Carbone. World Premiere. Fiction.
If there’s one thing Rebecca Hall can do really well, it would be horror. This film is said to be a thrilling drama, and Tim Roth as the presumed villain also gets me excited.
Jacob is a Graduate of Western Kentucky University where he earned a History/Film Studies Degree. He is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is also a member of the North American Film Critics Association and the Music City Film Critics’ Association. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.