Courtesy Sundance Institute
A look at the buzziest prospects at this year’s festival, from documentaries to dramas and next year’s awards contenders.
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Jennifer Connelly and Ben Whishaw star in this dark comedy from director Alice Englert (who recently starred in the late, great Dangerous Liaisons) about a former child star who checks into a wellness retreat alongside her guru only to find that inner peace isn’t always so easy to find. The film is Englert’s feature directorial debut and promises to bring a raised eyebrow to questions about wellness culture and the perils of modern motherhood.
Sundance is no stranger to horror movies, and this feature debut from director Laura Moss is among the most exciting (and chilling) to be presented in the fest’s always-scary Midnight section. The film, a modern reimagining of Frankenstein starring Marin Ireland and Judy Reyes, depicts what happens when a pathologist obsessed with reanimating the dead and a maternity nurse with her own young child cross paths and find themselves on a dark, remarkable journey toward the unknown.
When the New Yorker published the short story “Cat Person” in 2017, it became the most read piece of fiction in the history of the magazine. Now, writer Kristen Roupenian’s story of a young woman and her iffy romance with a problematic older man has made its way on screen in an adaptation directed by Susanna Fogel and starring Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun that’s among the fest’s most anticipated premieres.
Director Anthony Chen’s English-language debut stars Cynthia Erivo and Alia Shawkat in an adaptation of Alexander Maksik’s novel A Marker to Measure Drift. Erivo plays a Liberian woman struggling to survive on a Greek island whose life is altered when she befriends Shawkat’s American tour guide. It’s a meditation on grief and the meaning of home, and a reminder that paradise is really just a state of mind.
Writers and directors Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch bring an adaptation of Paolo Cognetti’s beloved novel to the big screen, telling the story of two Italian men who forged a friendship as children and are reunited later in life. Pietro and Bruno met when the former spent his childhood summers in a village in Italy’s Aosta Valley; later, when Pietro inherits land there, the two team up to build a house and a story about man’s relationship with nature, with others, and with himself beautifully unfolds.
Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway star in director William Oldroyd’s big-screen adaptation of the hit novel by Otessa Moshfegh, which follows a young woman in 1960s Massachusetts whose life is turned upside down when a new colleague arrives at the prison where she works and friendship, infatuation, and criminal behavior ensue.
Phoebe Dynevor (Bridgerton) and Alden Ehrenreich star in this high-stakes thriller, the first feature from writer-director Chloe Domont, about a New York couple that seems to have it all until the opportunity for a promotion—for one of them—at the finance firm where they work begins to unravel their fairytale. This is a story about ambition, power, and what we’re willing to lose to get everything we want.
John Carney, the director of films including Sing Street and Begin Again, is a master of telling stories through music. His latest is no exception. Here, Eve Hewson plays a mother who has all but given up on her own dreams of performing until a discarded guitar finds its way to her (and her seemingly troubled son, Max) and changes both of their lives for good.
T&C’s own Ruth Reichl serves as a producer and on-screen guide for this documentary, directed by Laura Gabbert, which dives deep into the state of American farming and explores what it means to both provide and eat food today.
Co-directed by Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng, this documentary looks back at the life and work of Hardison as a model, innovator, and activist, celebrating the change she’s pioneered in the fashion industry but also taking note of the work that’s still left to do. It’s an important story told by an iconic voice and should be essential viewing for anyone who believes in the power of fashion and the possibility of a better world in which it can be created.
While the songs of the Indigo Girls might be embedded firmly in our collective unconscious, the story of the band’s Amy Ray and Emily Saliers isn’t quite as well known—yet. In this doc from director Alexandria Bombach, the story of how the duo formed, found dizzying success, and used their platform to help change the world is told through interviews, archival footage, and Ray’s own documentation of their experience. A must for longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok dive into the life and work of the poet laureate of puberty in this documentary about Judy Blume, the legendary author of books including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Then Again Maybe I Won’t, and Superfudge. The film tells Blume’s own story of going from a shy child to a household name, but also looks at the wide impact of her work and how it has resonated with millions of readers, including artists and authors influencing the zeitgeist today.
David Redmon and Ashley Sabin direct this documentary about Redmon’s search for the legendary film collection from New York City’s now defunct Kim’s Video—a assemblage he credits with helping him learn about some of the world’s best movies—after it left Manhattan and went, well, somewhere. It’s part mystery and part love letter to cinema, and in an age when so much is available at the touch of a button, embodies the lost art that is the thrill of the chase.
The relationship between a mother and her children in 1970s Rome is at the heart of this fifth feature from writer and director Emanuele Crialese. Penélope Cruz stars as Clara, whose marriage is falling apart but who finds meaning through her connections with her three young children—especially 13-year-old Adriana, with whom Clara finds she has more in common that either would have thought.
Little Richard: I Am Everything
Director Lisa Cortés’s documentary explores the real person behind the persona of the rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard. While he got his big break at age 14 and became world famous for his unmistakable songs, the artist also faced the stifling effects of bigotry around his race and sexuality. This film helps explain who Richard Wayne Penniman really was, and the massive influence his life and work have had on music around the world.
Ira Sachs is a master of making films that explore the intricate, messy, and fascinating ways in which relationships are constructed, and Passages is no different. Here, the director and co-writer follows Tomas and Martin, a Parisian couple whose marriage is shaken by infidelity on both sides, forcing the men to decide whether and how to make their relationship work—or if perhaps it has already stopped doing so. Franz Rogowski, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Ben Whishaw star.
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields was just 12 years old when she became a star, thanks to her role in the film Pretty Baby. In the years following, her work on screen and as a model (for brands including, of course, Calvin Klein) made her extraordinarily famous—but who was the person behind the public image? In director Lana Wilson’s two-part documentary, Shields speaks candidly about what it meant to find fame (and be seen as an object of desire) at such a young age, and how her experiences, good and bad, have shaped the rest of her life.
Sundance veteran Christopher Zalla is back in Park City with this new film, starring Eugenio Derbez as a newbie teacher at one of Mexico’s most troubled schools. While the students are disengaged and the world around them is unpredictable, his lack of experience means that he’s willing to try anything to get them to learn—and it just might work. Based in part on real events, the movie looks at what it means to have hope in a dangerous place—especially when you don’t know all the reasons you might not.
Harris Dickinson (Triangle of Sadness) and the remarkable 12-year-old Lola Campbell star in this feature from director Charlotte Regan, which tells the story of a young girl living on her own in London—until her absentee father shows up and the two must attempt to cobble together a relationship. It’s a smart, funny, and inventive film that turns a familiar subject into something new and compelling.
Sometime I Think About Dying
Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, and Meg Stalter star in this comedy, from director Rachel Lambert, about love in the time of social anxiety. Ridley plays Fran, who’s practically disappearing into her beige life when a gregarious new coworker arrives at her office and shakes things up in ways that are frustrating, obnoxious, and maybe just a little bit alluring. Romance, as you might guess, seems poised to follow.
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
For many of us, it’s hard to imagine life without Michael J. Fox. The actor has seemingly always been there, on TV in shows like Family Ties or the big screen in films like Back to the Future, but this documentary from director Davis Guggenheim explores not only the beginnings of Fox’s storied career but also how it all changed when at 29 years old he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s a thoughtful, moving look at optimism, opportunity, and the eternal tension between storm clouds and silver linings.
Performing-arts summer camps are dramatic places by nature—take it from the T&C editors who’ve attended them. In this mockumentary, directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, a struggling summer camp in upstate New York attempts to find a way to stay afloat all while careening toward opening night of their big production. The comedy stars an impressive ensemble including Gordon, Ben Platt, Amy Sedaris, and Patti Harrison.
Thom Zimny and Oren Moverman direct this five-part film about the life and (sometimes high) times of one of America’s most iconic musicians, from his youth in Texas through his road to superstardom and his work off-stage as an advocate and activist. It’s a peek behind the curtain of what we think we know about Willie Nelson, offering instead a first-hand account of one man’s incredible journey and the twists and turns he’s still taking.
The incomparable Nicole Holofcener’s latest brainy dramedy—starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies—follows a memoirist struggling to complete a sophomore book, and whose marriage begins to falter when she overhears what her husband really thinks of the pages she’s let him read. But she isn’t the only one with problems; as always, Holofcenter creates a nuanced world of people who seemingly should have it all together but are as complicated and confused as the rest of us.
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These Are the Most Anticipated Movies at This Year’s Sundance Film Festival
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