Here, Town & Country takes our annual look at the buzziest prospects at this year's festival, from documentaries to dramas and next year's awards contenders. Not going to be in Park City, Utah this time around? Many of the films are available to stream, so no cinephile needs to feel left out.
A Different Man
The third film from director Aaron Schimberg follows Edward (Sebastian Stan), an actor who undergoes a major procedure to help his career, only to find that he hasn't landed the role of his dreams. And while the setup could have come directly from the Brothers Grimm, what ensues is an assuredly modern tale of desire, disappointment, and what really constitutes the truth.
A Real Pain
Jesse Eisenberg and Kieran Culkin star in this feature (written and directed by Eisenberg) about two cousins who take a trip to Poland in honor of their grandmother, only to find that changing their location doesn't change the differences between them. As the two grapple with the gravity of history and legacy, they also explore with humor and pathos what it means to find common ground in the modern moment.
Conbody Vs. Everybody
Sundance veteran Debra Granik (Winter's Bone, Leave No Trace) returns to Park City with a new documentary series, filmed over eight years, that follows a formerly incarcerated entrepreneur—and his employees, most from similar backgrounds—as he attempts builds a fitness business based on prison workouts. It's a story about second chances and who's allowed to have them, as well as the power and perils of persistence.
This documentary from directors Angela Patton and Natalie Rae tells the story of four young women preparing for a father-daughter dance that's slightly different than you might expect; in this case, the fathers are all incarcerated. The film follows the families over the course of eight sometimes-challenging years and examines the way their lives are impacted by their separations—as well as the challenges that love can transcend.
Everybody knows "Whip It," but what do we really know about DEVO? Director Chris Smith's documentary dives into the history of the group—which began as a conceptual project in response to the Kent State massacre—and follows its wild ride to the top of the charts and a singular, lasting place in pop culture.
The feature debut from artist Titus Kaphar, this film stars Andre Holland as a rising-star artist who's surprised when his estranged father crashes back into his life. Forgiveness, which also stars Audra Day and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, asks big questions about forgiveness, family, and how art can heal a broken heart.
An all-star cast—including Pedro Pascal, Jay Ellis, Normani Kordei Hamilton, Ben Mendelsohn, and more—is just the tip of the iceberg for this drama, which tells four interconnected stories about Oakland, CA on a very strange day in 1987—from Half Nelson directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Expect humor, scares, and perhaps some otherworldly escapades.
Frida Kahlo's story has been told before—but never quite like this. In a new documentary, the late legend's own words (from diaries, letters, interviews, and more) are used to tell the unique tale of her life and legacy alongside animation inspired by her iconic artwork. Kahlo's history might be familiar, but when it comes to Carla Gutiérrez's film, it's very much worth revisiting.
Handling the Undead
Who hasn't dreamed about just a bit more time with a lost loved one? In this film from director Thea Hvistendahl, the newly dead have come back to life, and the still-living (including those played by reunited The Worst Person in the World stars Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie) grapple with what it means to welcome back the departed—if that is indeed who they still are.
Gary Johnson isn’t really a criminal; he just pretends to be one—usually. In this new dark comedy from director and co-writer Richard Linklater, Glen Powell plays Johnson, a philosophy professor who works with the New Orleans police posting as a professional killer to help catch real lawbreakers. When he falls for Madison (Adria Arjona), a woman trying to leave an abusive relationship, however, the line between his real life and the one he pretends to live blurs, and this (kind of) true story becomes as bizarre as it is thrilling.
Love Lies Bleeding
In her sophomore film, director Rose Glass tells the story of what happens when a gym manager falls for the body builder making her way through town, and things get more than a bit complicated. Kristen Stewart, Katy O'Brian, Dave Franco, Ed Harris, Jena Malone, and Anna Baryshnikov star in what's being billed as an "off-the-wall, rambunctious lesbian love story" that's among the most anticipated of the year.
It's important to state that we aren't sure we know entirely what this film, the first feature from directors Sam and Andy Zuchero, is about. But it's the confusion (regarding a plot that's said to be about the relationship between a buoy and a satellite that meet online and fall in love) that's part of what makes the title so compelling. And it hasn't just worked on us: the story, which follows those beings in different forms over a billion years, also appealed to stars Kristin Stewart and Steven Yeun, who play the pair.
My Old Ass
Elliott might be on mushrooms, but that doesn't mean her experience isn't worth sharing. In Megan Park's new feature, Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza star as two versions of Elliott (her current teenage self and a future version of her) who meet on one fateful, trippy night and find themselves on a journey into adulthood that's funny, profound, and heartwarming.
Spending Valentine's Day in New Jersey running from the mob might not be everyone's idea of a good time, but there's no denying it makes for compelling cinema. Director Esteban Arango tells the tale of Ponyboi (River Gallo), a young sex worker running for his life against a backdrop of Garden State charm, in a movie that promises both big action but also an emotional wallop.
Sundance veteran Steven Soderbergh is back in Park City with a thriller about a family that moves into a new house and realizes they might not be the only ones in residence. The film stars Lucy Liu, Chris Sullivan, and Julia Fox.
Directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor and based on the biography by Jeff Hobbs, Rob Peace tells the story of a brilliant young man working in an Ivy League research lab and also selling drugs to fund the defense for his father, who's serving time for a double murder. The film, which stars Jay Will, Mary J. Blige, Ejiofor, and Camila Cabello, explores the power of family ties, the possibilities that come with great ambition, and the multitudes we all contain—whether we let people see them or not.
It's Sundance, of course it's going to get a little experimental. In this new film from directors David and Nathan Zellner, we're treated to a year in the life of a family of sasquatches. Two of the creatures are played—we're very keen to see how—by Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg, and the movie promises to capture the brilliant, boring, breathtaking, and banal moments that make up 365 days in the life of a (perhaps) mythical creature.
Skywalkers: A Love Story
How do you get 2,230 feet in the air without leaving your seat at the movie theater? Try seeing this documentary, from director Jeff Zimbalist, about a couple who scheme to travel halfway around the world to (rather illegally) climb a super skyscraper. It's a story of will and determination and some very questionable decisions, but one that promises to be fascinating—as long as you don't look down.
Things aren't so easy for Doris, a teenager in Florida who doesn't quite fit in at school and doesn't get much attention at home. But when her mother starts leaving her alone for long stretches to care for her ailing brother, Doris finds that an empty house is a very quick way to make friends with the popular kids—whether you want to or not. Director Laura Chinn's film is smart and sensitive, with strong performances from a cast including Nico Parker, Woody Harrelson, and Laura Linney.
The American Society of Magical Negroes
Director Kobi Libii's feature debut—which stars Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, and Nicole Byer, among others—is a sharp satire that follows a young man named Aren as he joins a secret society that plays with notions of race, responsibility, and the way that Black characters have long been depicted on screen.
Will & Harper
Sundance might never have seen a roadtrip movie quite like this one before. After 30 years of friendship, Will Ferrell and Harper Steele have decided to go for a drive across the country. They're in no danger of running out of topics to discuss, mostly because Harper recently came out as a trans woman, and the trip is their chance to reconnect and celebrate what made their long-lasting friendship so very special in the first place.
Emilia Jones, Connie Britton, Kathryn Newton, Zach Galifianakis, and Danny Ramirez star in this latest film from director Susanna Fogel (Cat Person), which delves into the life of Reality Winner, the NSA translator turned whistleblower who was sentenced to more than five years in prison for leaking a government report. Winner's experiences are undoubtedly fascinating —they also inspired Tina Satter's brilliant play Is This A Room?—and in the hands of such a skilled filmmaker and cast, promise to spark serious thought about patriotism, politics, and the real value of the truth.
You Might Also Like