10 films premiering at Sundance 2020 that should be on your radar
The 2020 Sundance Film Festival kicks off tomorrow night in Park City, Utah and will run through February 2. If you know me or have been following my ramblings for a while now, you are more than likely aware that the Sundance Film Festival is always my favorite film festival of the year. I love discovering new films and knowing next to nothing about them. However, there is something about this year’s line up that isn’t connecting with me. Normally, I find it challenging to narrow down my list of films that I am excited to see, but this year I struggled to make a schedule because there weren’t that many films that “stood out” when reading through the plot descriptions. I spent about three hours reading the film plot description for each film playing and came up with a list of about 15 films that intrigued me enough to want to seek them out at the festival.
Below is my list of the top ten films that I believe should be on your radar at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Please keep in mind that while the lineup may not have done much to “wow me,” but at Sundance, there is usually a film or two that comes out of nowhere and becomes the talk of the festival. Personally, I always like being surprised so I look forward to finding out what those titles are. They could be films on this list or they could be some random indie that only five people are talking about. This is part of the fun of being at Sundance.
A Current War left a really bad taste in my mouth when it comes to biopics about technology icons like Nikola Tesla. That said, I am a big fan of Ethan Hawke and am going to give this one the benefit of the doubt because of him. I do like the fact that the story doesn’t try to focus on Tesla’s entire career but focuses on a specific period in his life as a young inventor in New York. Clearly, the odds have never been in Tesla’s favor so I’m somewhat interested in seeing all the technology mishaps that occurred early on in his career.
Stuber was not a great film about rideshare services. Hell, it wasn’t even a very good buddy comedy. The official Sundance description of Spree sounds very strange but it is one of those films that could address our society’s obsession with trying to go viral in a very entertaining way. There have been a lot of films about social media over the past five years and only half of them seemed to find an audience. I remember Ingrid Goes West was a big hit out of Sundance so maybe Spree will follow in its footsteps. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end up like last year’s Share which was not only dull and boring but went absolutely nowhere. I am also interested in seeing what Joe Keery can do outside of playing Steve on Stranger Things. Steve is one of my favorite characters on the show so I am curious to see if Keery has what it takes to take on another project where he stars in a leading role.
Spree is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Friday, January 24th – 8:30 pm The MARC Theatre in Park City
Saturday, January 25th – 11:30 pm Prospector Square Theatre in Park City
Sunday, January 26th – 12:00 pm Broadway Centre Cinema 6 in Salt Lake City
Wednesday, January 29th –8:30 pm Egyptian Theatre in Park City
Thursday, January 30th – 4:15 pm Redstone Cinema 2 in Park City
8. Bad Hair
I will openly admit that I was not the biggest fan of Justin Simien’s Dear White People when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2016. In fact, I felt like I was missed something considering the rave reviews that I ended up going to see the film with my wife and my friend when it opened in theaters that summer. Sadly, I still didn’t get the hype but oddly enough became a fan of Dear White People when it was turned into a television series on Netflix. I’ve watched all three seasons and feel like the concept works better as a television show rather than a movie. Bad Hair seems like a departure from what Dear White People is all about as Simien takes a chance on directing a horror film this time around. I feel like the film will be one of those films that audiences will either love or hate. I am hoping it works for me.
Bad Hair is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Thursday, January 23rd – 9:00 pm The Ray Theatre in Park City
Saturday, January 25th – 3:00 pm Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City
Sunday, January 26th – 11:30 am Egyptian Theatre in Park City
Tuesday, January 28th – 11:59 pm Library Center Theatre in Park City
Friday, January 31st – 3:30 pm The Ray Theatre in Park City
7. Save Yourselves
Quirky comedies are usually my favorite type of movie to seek out whenever I am at a film festival. Save Yourselves seems like something that should be premiering at SXSW, but somehow it is actually debuting at Sundance instead. I get Fits & Starts mixed with Safety Not Guaranteed vibes from this one. I don’t even know all that much about the actors in it or the director but the plot which combines a troubled relationship, cell phones, and an alien invasion has me very curious. These types of movies tend to be a breath of fresh air from the typical festival fare as it seems like it will be more lighthearted and those are needed in between all the depressing and hard-hitting real-world dramas that dominate most film festivals.
Save Yourselves is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Saturday, January 25 – 9:00 pm Park City Library in Park City
Sunday, January 26 – 8:30 am Egyptian Theatre in Park City
Monday, January 27 – 9:30 pm Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City
Wednesday, January 29 – 12:00 pm Park City Library in Park City
Thursday, January 30 – 9:30 pm Eccles Theatre in Park City
6. Horse Girl
Jeff Baena as a filmmaker and writer has always been hit or miss for me. While I applaud his efforts for making films that tend to push boundaries while being strange and unusual, the films as a whole don’t usually don’t seem to find an audience or make a big enough impact on the audiences that see them. Horse Girl was a film that I was going to write off as I’ll wait to watch it when it debuts on Netflix but the trailer for this film really sold me on it. I’ve been a big fan of Alison Brie since Community and have really enjoyed the bold choices that she has been making as of late. She’s so damn good on Glow and even when the project that she is apart of isn’t that great, she is often the saving grace of mediocre films or television shows. It should also be noted that this film marks Brie’s debut as a writer as she co-wrote this film with Baena. It definitely looks like it is going to be a weird concept but I find myself oddly intrigued by the entire premise despite not being a fan of horses.
Horse Girl is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Monday, January 27th – 6:30 pm The Ray Theatre in Park City
Tuesday, January 28th – 11:30 am The MARC Theatre in Park City
Wednesday, January 29th – 9:30 pm Rose Wagner Center in Salt Lake City
Saturday, February 1st – 11:30 pm Prospector Square Theatre in Park City
5. The Last Thing He Wanted
Dee Rees’ last film Mudbound was a big hit out of Sundance and even managed to generate some awards buzz. With The Last Thing He Wanted, Rees has assembled her most noteworthy cast to date that includes Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, and Willem Dafoe. It should also be noted that Rees has teamed up with Netflix once again as she brings Joan Didion’s novel of the same name to life on the big screen. While I have not read the book of which this film is based on, I do think the plot will focus on the ethics within the world of journalism and how sometimes stories hit too close to home without us having a personal bias towards the subject or topic being covered.
The Last Thing He Wanted is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Monday, January 27th – 9:30 pm Eccles Theatre in Park City
Tuesday, January 28th – 8:30 am The MARC Theatre Park City Theaters
Thursday, January 30th – 2:30 pm Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City
Saturday, February 1st – 5:30 pm Prospector Square Theatre in Park City
4. The Glorias
Julie Taymor has directed movies, broadway musicals, and stage plays. I adore Across The Universe, the Beatles inspired musical and remember falling in love with it as a teenager. The Glorias is all about Gloria Steinem played by Julianne Moore. It is rumored to be a non-traditional biopic that will focus on Steinem’s involvement with the women’s rights movement. The cast which alongside Moore includes Alicia Vikander, Janelle Monáe, and Bette Midler really sells me on this film plus Steinem’s life story seems to be very fitting with the current policial climate and everything currently happening in the world right now. I suspect The Glorias to be one of the most buzzed-about films out of Sundance this year.
The Glorias is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Sunday, January 26th – 12:00 pm Eccles Theatre in Park City
Tuesday, January 28th – 8:45 am Eccles Theatre in Park City
Friday, January 31st – 9:15 pm Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City
Saturday, February 1st – 9:30 pm The Ray Theatre in Park City
3. Promising Young Woman
There have been a lot of movies lately about the Me Too movement and stories centered around women taking charge and getting their revenge. Promising Young Woman looks like it is going to be bat shit crazy but will be grounded in the harsh reality of real life. It has been in a while since we’ve talked about Carey Mulligan being in a great role and her performance as Cassie looks, unlike anything we have ever seen from her before. I feel like the film will be a perfect blend of dark comedic moments with heavy-hitting topics that will resonate with audiences on a very deep and personal level.
Promising Young Woman is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Saturday, January 25th – 8:30 pm The MARC Theatre in Park City
Sunday, January 26th – 9:00 am The Ray Theatre in Park City
Sunday, January 26th – 9:15 pm Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City
Wednesday, January 29th – 11:30 pm Prospector Square Theatre in Park City Theaters
Friday, January 31st – 9:00 am Eccles Theatre in Park City
2. Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia
I stand by my love for Swiss Army Man, a film that premiered at Sundance back in 2016. I remember being at that premiere and watching people walk out throughout it. Hailed as the farting corpse movie, I saw Swiss Army Man at least two or three more times that same year and found something new to love about it every time. While I don’t know if Omniboat will be anywhere near as brilliant, entertaining, or thought-provoking, I will give the DANIELS the benefit of the doubt and seek out it out based on their efforts of being bold filmmakers who aren’t afraid of being weird and appealing to the masses.
Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Saturday, January 26th – 9 pm Park City Library in Park City
Tuesday, January 28th – 11:59 pm Egyptian Theatre in Park City
Wednesday, January 29th – 8:30 pm The Marc Theatre in Park City
Friday, January 31st -8:45 pm Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City
Saturday, February 1st – 3:00 pm Holiday Theatre in Park City
1. Miss Americana
I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since her very first album in 2006. Taylor Swift’s evolution as a musical artist as well as a pop culture phenomenon has been fascinating to watch. Based on the film’s trailer, Lana Wilson’s documentary will showcase the bright side and dark side of the pop music industry. While there are a lot of documentaries made about rock legends, I am curious to see what Wilson reveals. I won’t be shocked if some deeply disturbing information is revealed that deals directly with record companies trying to control Swift’s actions, money, and what she had the right to say over the past decade. Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of Taylor Swift, it is hard to argue that music documentaries aren’t interesting to watch especially when they touch upon issues that are relevant to the world as well as the industry today.
Miss Americana is playing at the following times during Sundance 2020:
Thursday, January 23rd – 9:00 pm Eccles Theatre in Park City
Friday, January 24th – 9:00 am Eccles Theatre in Park City
Friday, January 24th – 9:15 pm Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City
Thursday, January 30th – 9:30 am The Ray Theatre in Park City
Friday, January 31st – 3:45 pm Broadway Centre Cinema 3 in Salt Lake City
Saturday, February 1st –6:00 pm Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room Sundance Resort
Sunday, February 2nd – 6:15 pm Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City