My 8 Most Anticipated Films at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

My 8 Most Anticipated Films of Sundance 2018

I can’t believe the 2018 Sundance Film Festival is already here!

The Sundance Film Festival, especially over the last several years, has been the launching ground for the following year award season. There have been several noteworthy films to come out of Sundance each year. These films went on to make a splash at the box office while receiving a lot of attention throughout the year leading right up to award season. Recent titles include Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Boyhood, Manchester by the Sea, and Brooklyn.

What I love most about Sundance, and I am pretty sure I say the same thing each year, is that that I love how I get to see films without any bias going into them. There is rarely any information about the movies showing at the festival which means there are usually no trailers to spoil anything about the plot. Plus no one has seen the vast majority of the films that play at the Festival. There I something so refreshing about being at a film festival this big that is still all about discoveries. This quality alone is what makes Sundance so unique and such a remarkable experience every year.

I have compiled a short list of the eight films that I am the most excited to see at the festival. Before I get into that list, I wanted to also give a quick shoutout to eight other titles that I will be checking out during the festival and hope these will be surprisingly great as well.

These eight films include:

Won’t You Be My Neighbor – I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, so nostalgia immediately spoke to me and made me want to see this documentary about the man who I watched on a daily basis.

Clara’s Ghost – I always liked Chris Elliot. I love Cabin Boy, as well as the television show, Get a Life so seeing him work alongside several members of his family suggests it should be a fun time. Plus there is something about the description of this film that just speaks to me and leads me to believe that this is going to be an entertaining and fun little indie gem.

A Kid Like Jake – Silas Howard has directed a lot of excellent television shows including This is Us and Transparent and with such a strong cast involved with this project, I am hoping that it will be something unique and memorable.

The Kindergarten Teacher – Maggie Gyllenhaal is a terrific actress, and with a plot about a 40 something woman becoming obsessed with a 5-year-old student that could be a child prodigy seems fairly promising.

Damsel – This just sounds like a bizarre and whacky film plus I like Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska. I am curious how these two will do in a comedy plus I am interested to see how well these two actors play off one another.

The Catcher Was a Spy – The cast intrigues me, and the plot sounds promising. I am, however, a bit worried because the film got pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival at the last minute. With such a big cast, I’m a bit surprised this isn’t premiering at Eccles, but it is honestly so hard to predict since no one saw the film.

Mandy – Nicolas Cage was great in Mom and Dad which I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September. The plot of Mandy sounds promising, and with the film being the Midnight Madness opening night film, I think this one has a lot riding on it.

Eighth Grade – I am probably one of the only people who have this film on their most anticipated list because of the plot. I realize that Bo Burnham is a big deal, and a ton of people love his comedy, but I honestly am not too familiar with him. The only thing I know him from is his role in The Big Sick. The reason why I want to see this film is that the description sounds incredibly fascinating and I am curious as to where the story goes. Let me also add that the film was purchased by a24 prior to the festival. The last film a24 purchased prior to Sundance was A Ghost Story last year and that was a great film.

Scott Menzel’s 8 Most Anticipated Films of Sundance 2018

Lizzie

I am a Kristen Stewart fanboy, and I won’t even try to hide it. I have admired her work as an actress ever since I first saw her in Speak back in 2004. Over the past decade, I have watched Stewart blossom into one of the best actresses working today with several incredible performances in films such as Welcome to the Rileys, Adventureland, and Personal Shopper. Last year, Stewart’s directorial debut short film Come Swim premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 and then played at Sundance in 2017. I somehow missed the short at both festivals which bums me out, but I knew when looking at this year’s line-up. I would not miss out on seeing Lizzie at Sundance.

Lizzie is based on actual events thriller that revolves around the murders of Lizzie Borden’s father and step-mother in 1892. The film stars Chloë Sevigny as Lizzie Borden and Kristen Stewart as Bridget Sullivan. Lizzie Borden case is one of the most well known and discussed murder cases in USA history. Both Sevigny and Stewart are fantastic actresses, and this type of material seems perfect for these two actresses to make a statement.

While I’m always checking to see what Stewart does next, Lizzie has been one of her more talked about upcoming projects. With a prime Sundance slot on first Friday of the festival, it looks very likely that Lizzie is sure to be something special and has the potential of being one of the most talked about films to premiere at the festival this year.

Lizzie premieres at the Park City Library on Friday, January 19, 2018. If you can’t get into that screening, which I believe is going to be nearly impossible, the film will be playing again throughout the week at the following theaters and times below:

Saturday 1/20/18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Prospector
Sunday – 1/21/18 at 12:15 p.m. at the Grand
Thursday – 1/25/18 at 9:30 p.m at the Eccles theater
Friday – 1/26/18 at 12:00 p.m. at the Temple Theater

Wildlife

Wildlife is Paul Dano’s directorial debut and is based on Richard Ford’s novel of the same name. Dano and his longtime girlfriend Zoe Kazan adapted the beloved book into their screenplay. The last time we saw this pair up was Ruby Sparks which in my opinion is an incredible film and one of my favorite movies of all time. The plot description for Wildlife seems somewhat vague but intriguing. I could investigate the plot since it is based on a book but since I never read or heard of the novel in prior to the film, I would like to go into the screening knowing as little as possible. All I know about the plot is that it revolves around a boy who watches his parents’ marriage fall apart in front of his very eyes in 1960’s Montana.

Considering the type of roles that Dano usually embraces as an actor, I’m not all that surprised that his directorial debut seems like something that will be a hard-hitting drama. Wildlife stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan who are both fantastic actors and with great direction and a compelling script could potentially be Oscar worthy. With all that being said, I am almost sure that Wildlife will be one of the hardest films to get into at Sundance 2018 but seems very likely to be a Sundance breakout hit.

Wildlife premieres at the Eccles Theater on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 3:30 pm.

There are four additional screenings at the festival including 3 in Park City and one in Salt Lake City. You can see all those found below:

Sunday – 1/21/18 at 6:30 p.m. at Redstone 1
Monday – 1/22/18 at 9:30 p.m. at the Rose Wagner
Friday – 1/26/18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Prospector
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 8:30 a.m at the Prospector

Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You sounds like an original, unique, and weird little film. I have followed Lakeith Stanfield’s career since the very beginning as he tackled the role of Marcus in Short Term 12. In such a short period of time, Stanfield has grown as an actor and has left quite the impression on me more than once. Sorry to Bother You sounds utterly different from anything that the actor has ever done before, so I am intrigued to see what he does with the material he has been given.

Sorry to Bother You seems like it will be quite a comedic tale as the plot is centered around a man named Cassius Green played by Stanfield, who just so happens to be a salesman that suffers from low self-esteem. Apparently, something magical happens which leads him to discover that he has the potential to be the best salesperson at his company and can practically sell just about anything to anyone.

Stanfield has proven that he can be a leading man so I am looking forward to seeing him tackle the role and see what he can do with material that has the potential to be comedic and dark. Let me not forget to mention that the film’s supporting cast is also rather impressive including the incredible Tessa Thompson as Cassius’ girlfriend as well as Steven Yeun and Armie Hammer.

Sorry to Bother You premieres at the Library Theater in Park City on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. Other screenings for the film at the festival are as follows:

Sunday – 1/21/18 at 9:15 p.m at the Grand
Monday – 1/22/18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Prospector
Wednesday – 1/24/18 at 12:15 p.m at the Eccles
Friday – 1/26/18 at 5:30 p.m. at the MARC
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 3:00 p.m. at the Sundance Resort

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

I grew up watching the films of Robin Williams, and while hundreds of people in show business die each year, I think learning about the death of Robin Williams was one of the most challenging celebrity deaths that I have ever had to face. Williams was a comedic inspiration to me and seeing him as this happy, funny man who took his own life left me as well as thousands of others devastated.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind might be a little too soon but I am interested in seeing the film as I want to learn more about the man that had such a significant impact on me as a child. He is one of the many reasons why I love the comedy genre. The documentary based on the plot description on Sundance’s website seems to be a very well-rounded look into the life of Williams and how he was such an inspiration to many but also how he had inner demons that were fighting against his happiness.

If you consider yourself a fan of Robin Williams as an actor or as a stand-up comedian, this is going to be one of the must-see documentaries of the year. The film plays four times during the festival and can be seen at the followings theaters at times listed below:

Friday – 1/19/18 at 5:30 p.m. at the MARC
Saturday – 1/20/18 at 8:45 a.m. at the Park City Library
Sunday – 1/21/18 at 12:30 p.m at the Wagner
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 9:00 p.m. at the Redstone 7

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The plot of The Miseducation of Cameron Post reminds me of, But I’m A Cheerleader which I still consider to be an underrated and overlooked comedic gem. Call Me By Your Name was a gay coming of age story that premiered at Sundance last year. The film generated a ton of buzz and almost an entire year after it’s Sundance premiere, there is still a ton of talk about it. With that being said, there is usually at least one coming of age film at Sundance each year that managed to hit big, and I believe that this year’s coming-of-age breakout will be The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron Post, a picture perfect teenager that just so happens to have feelings for another girl. At prom, the two hook up and get caught in the process. Upon learning about Cameron’s behavior, her parents decide that they have no other choice but to ship her off to a rehab facility where they will attempt to “de-gay” her.

There have been so many stories about men and women coming out in the news lately, so I think now is the perfect time to release a film that addresses this topic. Hopefully, the film will not only poke fun at how absurd it is to think that a person’s sexual orientation can be changed by sending them to a rehab facility but also shine a light on understanding personal identity and how it shapes you as an individual. It is my great hope that the film manages to be both comedic yet compelling in its messages and storytelling. I also hope that this turns out to be a rewarding role for Chloe Grace Moretz as I feel she hasn’t had many hits as of late. I think she is a terrific actress and I would love to see her in a role that grabs an audience since her last few films have sadly failed to find an audience. I still think Brain on Fire is a great film and an important one that sadly went overlooked due to poor distribution.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post premieres at the Eccles Theater on Monday, January 22, 2018, and will also screen again at the following times and locations below:

Tuesday – 1/23/18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Redstone 1
Thursday – 1/25/18 at 2:30 p.m. at the MARC
Friday – 1/26/18 at 3:00 p.m at the Park City Library
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 3:15 p.m. at the Grand

Summer of 84

Every year, I always pick at least one horror film to see at Sundance. Last year, I picked Get Out which just so happened to be, not only one of the best horror films of the year but also one of the best films of the year. For Sundance 2018, I am picking Summer of 84. While the film does go against my general rule of thumb as to why I love Sundance as a whole (there is a teaser trailer online, and now I have expectations), I must admit that I am excited for this film for two specific reasons.

The first reason is that it is from the people who made Turbo Kid. I saw Turbo Kid at SXSW and was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. I feel like Turbo Kid was a refreshing science fiction/horror film that took risks while being appealing to those who grew up in the 1980s. Summer of 84 looks and feels like it will capture that same vibe.

My second reason for wanting to see this film is that Summer of 84 has a very Stranger Things feel to it and after just finishing season two a little less than a month ago, I am craving more like it. As a child of the 80s, I watched so many movies were a bunch of kids would hang out and go on adventures together. Films like Stand by Me, The Goonies, and E.T. all come to mind, and this movie, solely based on the short teaser, seems to capture that same type of feeling and magic.

Summer of 84 premieres at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on Monday, January 22, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. at the Park City Library.

There are four additional screenings as well throughout the week including:

Tuesday – 1/23/18 at 9:30 p.m. at The Ray
Wednesday – 1/24/18 at 9:00 p.m. at the Tower
Thursday – 1/25/18 at 11:30 p.m at the Prospector
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 7:00 p.m at the Holiday 4

Search

John Cho was at Sundance last year with a little film called Columbus which was just a simple yet delightful indie film about two people having conversations. Search is a much different type of movie, but it seems like something fresh and new for Cho who has never been in a role like this one before.

Search stars John Cho as David, a father of a high school freshman that goes missing. David gets the police involves but also takes matters into his own hands. David begins to search his daughter’s computer to try to build evidence to figure out what could have happened to her. This sounds like this will be a film with a lot of tension and hopefully a killer ending.

It should also be mentioned that the plot of this film sounds like something that Blumhouse will pick up and later release. I think Cho is a bankable actor and Search seems like it could be an auspicious project for him as long as the direction and script are as strong as his on-screen presence.

Search premieres on Sunday, January 21, 2018, at the Ray theater with four additional screenings taking place throughout the festival.

Tuesday – 1/23/18 at 9:00 a.m at Park City Library
Thursday – 1/25/18 at 12:30 p.m. at the Redstone 1
Friday – 1/26/18 at 11:30 a.m at the Prospector
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 12:00 p.m at the Salt Lake City Library

Private Life

Kathryn Hahn is one of the funniest women on the planet and Paul Giamatti is one of the best and most underrated actors working today.  I honestly didn’t even really read the desciption of this film prior to buying my ticket. I like both of these actors that much that I figured I would see this film regardless of what the plot is.

Private Life opens up the 2018 Sundance Film Festival with its World Premiere occuring on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 9:00 p.m. at the Eccles. The film will play again several times throughout the week like the rest of the films on this list. The additional showtimes for Private Life can be found below:

Friday – 1/19/18 at 9:00 a.m at the Eccles
Friday – 1/19/18 at 9:00 p.m at the Tower
Saturday – 1/20/18 at 9:00 p.m at the Sundance Resort
Saturday – 1/27/18 at 9:30 p.m at the Redstone 1

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