Everything We’re Excited For at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival!
The 2016 Sundance Film Festival is about to kick off in Park City, Utah, and this year promises to have one of the most exciting and diverse lineups in years.
In the past two years Brooklyn, Boyhood and Whiplash were all big Sundance premieres that went on to considerable success. So, what do we think will be the big, breakout films of 2016? Let’s take a look at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival lineup and 15 of the most notable films, we think everyone will be talking about!
A pseudo-sequel to his previous film Welcome to the Dollhouse, Todd Solondz returns with the further adventures of Dawn Wiener, this time played by Greta Gerwig. The film follows a series of characters all linked together by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading comfort and joy. Does this mark a cheery turn for the man who once directed a movie about a child molester? We can’t wait to find out. (Directed by Todd Solondz; Cast: Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Delpy, Zosia Mamet.)
Manchester By the Sea
Oscar-nominee Kenneth Lonergan hasn’t directed a film since 2011’s Margaret, and before that, 2000’s You Can Count on Me. Lonergan, who has been working on Broadway with This Is Our Youth, returns to film with this story of a young man who returns to his home in Massachusetts after his brother passes away. There he is forced to care for his orphaned nephew while dealing with a tragedy in his own past. If you’re looking for a film that could have considerable Oscar success next year, look no further. (Directed by Kenneth Lonergan; Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler.)
A Rob Zombie movie at Sundance? Yup. It’s not just all coming-of-age dramas as Zombie’s latest horror movie debuts in a midnight slot. The plot of this movie is like Stefon describing a Rob Zombie club: it’s got carnies, Halloween, clown masks and “grease-painted maniacs.” In classic Rob Zombie fashion, the original cut of the film was submitted twice to the MPAA and received an NC-17 rating for “sadistic graphic violence, bizarre sexuality/nudity, pervasive disturbing images and some strong language.” What else do you need to know? (Directed by Rob Zombie; Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster.)
Hunt For the Wilderpeople
Before Taika Waititi heads off to direct Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, he’s got one more New Zealand comedy left in him. His follow-up to one of the most underrated 2015 films What We Do in the Shadows, Wilderpeople follows a young city kid who gets lost his crusty foster uncle in the wilds of New Zealand and a national manhunt ensues. (Director: Taika Waititi; Cast: Julian Dennison, Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley.)
Christine / Kate Plays Christine
In 1974, TV news reporter Christine Chubbuck committed suicide during a live morning show on WXLT in Sarasota, Florida. Her final words were, “In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living color, you are going to see another first — attempted suicide.” Strangely enough, Chubbuck’s story is the focus of two separate films at Sundance this year; Christine and Kate Plays Christine. The former is more of a straightforward narrative, while the second is a documentary, following an actress (Kate Lyn Sheil) preparing to play the role of Chubbuck and the impact it has on her life. (Christine — Director: Antonio Campos; Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Maria Dizzia, Tracy Letts, J. Smith-Cameron. Kate Plays Christine — Director: Robert Greene)
Love & Friendship
Whit Stillman takes on Jane Austen’s unpublished novella Lady Susan in Love & Friendship, but don’t write this off yet as just another Austen story. This short novel is much unlike the rest of the author’s work, instead following an egotistical, scheming female protagonist, Kate Beckinsale’s Lady Susan Vernon. Subverting many romantic novel cliches, Lady Susan is a woman in control, a widow who visits her in-laws to avoid social gossip and uses the spare time to find her daughter a husband, while also searching for her own. What a treat to see an eighteenth century woman not sitting around waiting for an older suitor to sweep her off her feet. (Director: Whit Stillman; Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Tom Bennett, Stephen Fry.)
While 2015 was lacking in films about women made by women, then Sundance favorite Kelly Reichardt is back to make this year a little better. Certain Women follows the intersecting stories of women across Montana, based on short stories by Maile Meloy. Laura Dern is lawyer in the middle of a hostage situation, Michelle Williams’ wife is having martial problems and Kristen Stewart as a young lawyer. It’s a bunch of hardworking women navigating life in the American West, everything you’d want from a Reichardt movie. (Director: Kelly Reichardt; Cast: Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, James Le Gros, Jared Harris, Lily Gladstone.)
Once and Begin Again writer-director John Carney brings us another romance fueled by the power of music. Set in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street follows the young Conor who starts a band after transferring from a private school to an inner-city public school. Coner begins writing lyrics, changes his name to Cosmo and tries to win over the cool girl, Raphina. After last year’s Sundance hit Brooklyn, Carney’s film looks to be another great Irish coming-of-age tale that’ll be talked about long after the festival. (Director: John Carney; Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Mark McKenna.)
What can we say? Just the latest Kevin Smith Canadian comedy starring Johnny Depp about an ancient evil lurking below a convenience store. Starring both of their daughters, your interest may vary depending on your tolerance for both Mssrs. Smith and Depp. Can a return to Sundance for Kevin Smith they get his mojo back with this unconventional project? (Director: Kevin Smith; Cast: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp, Justin Long, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey.)
The Fundamentals of Caring
A man in emotional turmoil forced to look after a troubled young person who helps them come to grips with their own issues is well-worn Sundance territory. Just looking over this list shows at least Manchester-by-the-Sea follows that same path. What makes this film any different? Well, the cast is a good start, with Paul Rudd, the hilarious Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez. Plus, it was directed by Rob Burnett, who spent years working with David Letterman, so he should know a thing or two about comedy. (Director: Rob Burnett; Cast: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle, Megan Ferguson, Frederick Weller.)
Ira Sachs’ (Love Is Strange, Keep the Lights On) latest film explores gentrification through the lives of two young Brooklyn boys. When middle-schooler Jake meets Tony at his grandfather’s funeral, the two quickly form a friendship. But a rent dispute between Jake’s father, played by Greg Kinnear, and Tony’s mother, played by Paulina Garcia, places a wedge between the boys. Sachs has become known as a prominent voice in the indie film scene for exploring male relationships across the New York City landscape. Little Men looks to be a promising continuation of that and an important look at the constantly changing neighborhoods of the NYC borough. (Director: Ira Sachs; Cast: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina Garcia, Theo Taplitz, Michael Barbieri.)
In The Hollars, John Krasinski plays a man pulled between two sides of his family. While John Hollar is waiting for his pregnant girlfriend (Anna Kendrick) to give birth, his mother (Margo Martindale) gets diagnosed with a brain tumor, causing him to rush home for her surgery. With Krasinski also behind the camera, this family dramedy looks like just the type of Sundance movie that will put a smile on our face and maybe a few tears in our eyes. (Director: John Krasinski; Cast: John Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day, Josh Groban, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Mary Kay Place.)
In Captain Fantastic, Viggo Mortensen is Ben, the father of six children who lives with his family in a Pacific Northwest forest completely off the grid. But after a tragedy, Ben and his family are forced to enter society. Mortensen has always been great as characters fighting to protect their families from the perils of the world, as both A History of Violence and The Road prove. And Captain Fantastic looks a bit more eerie, and perhaps comedic, than those – just look at the photo of the children wearing gas masks and dinosaur costumes. It’s also directed by actor Matt Ross (American Psycho, American Horror Story), and has a fantastic supporting cast. (Director: Matt Ross; Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George McKay, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd.)
Swiss Army Man
Daniel Radcliffe plays a dead body. If you’re not intrigued yet, you will be by the end of this paragraph. Swiss Army Man follows Paul Dano’s Hank, a stranded suicidal man, finds a dead body (Radcliffe!) washed up on shore and the two go on an adventure together. It’s sort of like Cast Away, but a little weirder with Radcliffe in place of Wilson. The two writer-directors, Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, also known as Daniels, also have us at peak anticipation for the film. The two directed DJ Snake and Lil John’s hilariously bizarre “Turn Down for What” music video and a video for The Shins about a dead body, so expect some delightful weirdness.
Directors: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan; Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.)
It’s a Juno reunion! Ellen Page and Allison Janney star in Tallulah, where motherhood and a new baby are once again at the center of the story. But this time Page plays Lu, a free-spirited wanderer who comes to “rescue” a baby and seeks out the help of her ex-boyfriend’s mother, Margo, played by Janney. Beyond seeing these two back on screen together, Tallulah looks to be a promising Sundance breakout for the woman behind it. Writer, director Sian Heder makes her feature debut with Tallulah, but has plenty of writing credits on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black to get us excited for her new story about odd couple, female relationships. Plus, Uzo Aduba co-stars.(Director: Sian Heder; Cast: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Zachary Quinto, Uzo Aduba.)