With awards season upon us, everyone is buzzing about the movies that came out at the tail end of last year. But now Sundance is here, and we’re getting a glimpse at the movies that everyone will be talking about next year.
This year’s Oscar contenders Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Sessions premiered at last year’s Sundance fest in Park City, Utah, along with past mega-hits like Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite, and Garden State. It’s not just tiny indues with unknown actors anymore, but highly-anticipated films with some major stars.
1. Don Jon’s Addiction
Joseph Gordon-Levitt had a very big year in 2012, starring in major blockbusters (The Dark Knight Rises), Oscar faves (Lincoln), and twisty sci-fi flicks (Looper). But he’s not content to just coast on his success — he’ll make his writing and directing debut while also starring as a major player and porn addict who changes his ways with some help from Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.
Why We’re Excited: JGL has long been promoting indie art with his hitRECord program, and we’ve always known he was more than a pretty face. This could be the film that proves we have another triple-threat on our hands. Ben Affleck, watch out.
2. Kill Your Darlings
Are we having a beatnik resurgence? First James Franco directed Howl, then Kristen Stewart starred in December release On The Road. Now the major star of that other big teen franchise, Daniel Radcliffe is starring as Allen Ginsberg in this highly-anticipated indie, costarring Elizabeth Olsen, Jack Huston, and Ben Foster.
Why We’re Excited: Neither of those other beatnik movies made much of a splash, but this one unites Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg, and William S. Buroughs, and centers around a murder. It’s Daniel’s most promising role since... well, the first Harry Potter, really, and will prove whether or not he’ll be a star in a post-Hogwarts world.
In a role that was once rumored to be Lindsay Lohan’s, Amanda Seyfried puts her popsicle-sucking skills to good use to play Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace, the porn sensation who escaped a religious upbringing to become the spokeswoman for hedonism. James Franco costars.
Why We’re Excited: Because we’re total pervs, duh. But also because, after her lackluster part in Les Miserables, we’re eager to see what Amanda Seyfried can do with a meaty, dramatic role. And a popsicle.
4. Very Good Girls
Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen (again) endeavor to lose their virginity before going off to college — but this isn’t exactly the female version of American Pie. They fall for the same artist, prompting a love triangle of sorts that threatens to destroy their friendship.
Why We’re Excited: Two of the finest actresses of their generation, plus Demi Moore — how often do we see her in a movie these days? It’s about time these actresses were in another movie that fully shows off their chops.
A Jane Austen-obsessed Keri Russell travels to Austenland, a theme park that immerses customers in a 19th century world. But will her romance with a dashing footman play out as passionately as it does in Austen books like Pride & Prejudice?
Why We’re Excited: If that premise isn’t enticing enough, this comes from Napoleon Dynamite cowriter Jerusha Hess, which is quite comedically promising. Also, Jennifer Coolidge? Never not funny.
6. The Way, Way Back
From the writers of The Descendants, this film evokes 80s coming-of-age stories and stars a whole slew of great performers, from Steve Carell to Toni Collette to Maya Rudolph to AnnaSophia Robb to Allison Janney... and plenty more.
Why We’re Excited: Did you somehow miss the cast we just listed above?
7. The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
Why We’re Excited: Sundance is the perfect place to find gritty, stylish films like this — sounds like this one could get pretty dark. (It’s definitely no Transformers, eh, Shia?)
In addition to edgy dramas, outrageous comedies, and heartfelt coming-of-age stories, Sundance is a great place to find a nifty little horror flick or two. This one is from acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-Wook (Old Boy), in his English-language debut, about a mysterious and possibly sinister uncle who comes to live with a grieving family. It stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and current Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver.
Why We're Excited: The Sundance website promises that this is "Hitchcockian" and "wickedly playful" with a "gasp-inducing performance" from Nicole Kidman. If all that is true, sign us up!
We're all about the dark and dramatic turn Matthew McConaughey has taken lately, so long as he agrees to any Magic Mike sequels that might pop up. After his uber-creepy turn in Killer Joe, he again plays a character who may be up to no good, as we saw in the trailer released yesterday.
Why We're Excited: It's been way too long since Reese Witherspoon was in a halfway-decent movie, and this one comes from Jeff Nichols, who made one of the best movies of 2011, Take Shelter. We wouldn't be surprised if this was one of the best movies at the festival.
Which Sundance movie looks most appealing to you?