We Live Entertainment’s 10 Most Anticipated Films at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival
It’s hard to believe that the 2017 Sundance Film Festival is almost here. Each and every year, the Sundance Film Festival is my most anticipated film festival of the year. I love going to Sundance for several reasons but most importantly because I adore being in a small intimate mountain town surrounded by film lovers, filmmakers, and snow.
Even though Sundance is well known and one of the biggest film festivals around, the festival still feels like a smaller scale event created by film lovers for film lovers. I love that those in line with me know as much about the film they are about to see as I do. I love that there is no real “buzz” before seeing most of the films that play at the festival. Sure, there is the Spotlight section which contains a handful of films that played at other festivals but most of those haven’t generated that much hype. All these things when combined together help make Sundance a remarkable experience with plenty of unexpected surprises each and every year.
With that being said, I always find it fun to make a list of films that I am most excited about playing at the festival. Please keep in mind, like in previous years, there is no guarantee that any of these films are going to turn out to be great. In 2016, I listed 15 films and four of them I hated and four of them I loved. All the rest were “ok” but nothing noteworthy. That is part of the fun going to Sundance because you never truly how the film is going to turn out because there aren’t reviews or trailers. No one really knows anything about most of the films other than the cast, director, writer, and a few images that have hit the web.
Now, before I begin my list of the ten most anticipated films playing at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, I want to make mention of a few other films that I am excited to see at the festival. These films include:
Their Finest – I saw this film at TIFF last year and enjoyed it. This is such a fun look at the golden age of Hollywood told with a British twist. A great cast, interesting story, and wonderful direction makes this one a must-see.
Sidney Hall – We are big fans and supporters of Shawn Christensen. His previous film Before I Disappear was very underrated and this new film has a promising young cast that should work as a winning formula for Christensen as a director/writer.
Berlin Syndrome – Teresa Palmer is a very talented actress in the right role. She told me in a recent interview that she was incredibly proud of this film so I’m pretty pumped to see it. The premise seems promising.
L.A. Times – I was a big fan of Girl Most Likely because it was weird and dealt with a difficult subject matter. L.A. Times sounds charming.
Brigsby Bear – Weird premise and a great cast. Enough said.
XX – A female-driven horror anthology film? Yes, please.
10. A Ghost Story
In 2016, David Lowery brought the world the remake of Pete’s Dragon, a live-action Disney film that I adored. Pete’s Dragon was beautiful to look at while the story made me feel like a kid again. A Ghost Story will be nothing like Pete’s Dragon but that doesn’t mean I am not interested to see what Lowery does next. This film reunites Lowery with Casey Affleck, who previously worked with Lowery on the underrated indie film, Ain’t Them Body Saints. A Ghost Story will more than likely not be a horror film like the premise leads you to believe but instead a dramatic film with beautiful cinematography and memorable performances by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.
9. Patti Cake$
I owe it to my friend Jason Osiason for bringing this film to my attention. While I know absolutely nothing about this film other than the plot description on the Sundance website, I cannot help but be excited about it. The plot description reads as follows: Straight out of Jersey comes Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, an aspiring rapper fighting through a world of strip malls and strip clubs on an unlikely quest for glory. While I realize that sounds like an outrageous plot, I can’t help but be intrigued by it. This could be the big surprise out of Sundance this year or be one of the worst films of the year. No one knows for sure, but I will let you know for sure on Monday, January 23, 2017.
8. The Big Sick
I have always been a big fan of the Stella gang from their early sketch comedy to all of their smaller films. Michael Showalter is a very talented filmmaker with Hello, My Name is Doris and The Baxter being enjoyable and unique indie comedies. Fingers crossed, The Big Sick will hopefully be Showalter’s third successful independent feature to premieres at a film festival. The film stars Zoe Kazan, Kumail Nanjiani, and Vella Lovell (Heather on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and tackles cultural differences in a relationship. I think given our current political climate, this should be a wonderful comedy that should appeal to people of all ages.
7. The Hero
Brett Haley’s I’ll See You in My Dreams was an excellent little film that I saw at Sundance back in 2015. While that film dealt with an aging woman looking for love and friendship, Haley’s follow-up stars film legend Sam Elliott in a lead role about an aging actor who realizes that his career is pretty much over. I think given Haley’s previous ability to tackle age in such a beautiful and thoughtful way, I cannot wait to see what he does with this film. The supporting cast is also very promising as it includes Krysten Ritter, Laura Prepon, and Nick Offerman.
6. Band Aid
I love me some Adam Pally. I think he is one of the most underrated comedians working today. I love him as Max on Happy Endings and Peter on The Mindy Project. Pally is so likable in almost every single role I have seen him in. He is a great actor and has been in several overlooked indie films including Night Owls, which played well at SXSW but didn’t go anywhere after that. I am so happy to see that Band-Aid stars Pally in a leading role. The entire premise sounds hilarious and unique. It’s not every day where you see a film about a husband and wife whose marriage is on the brink of ending and instead of going to counseling, they decide to make a band and write songs about their frustrations. Band Aid sounds promising, and I hope it becomes one of my favorite films at this year’s festival.
I already saw Colossal at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and adored it. This is an incredible film that is wildly original. It stars Anne Hathaway as a troubled woman who is trying to focus on her inner demons. I don’t really want to dive into the plot all that much because it ruins a lot of the fun, but let me just tell you that you have never seen a film like this one. I give filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo a ton of credit for writing and directing a film that is such a unique look at a woman dealing attempting to deal with her past and struggles. It only plays three times at Sundance, but I made sure to work my schedule fit around seeing the film again at Sundance.
4. The Polka King
Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky reunite for The Polka King. Their previous film, Infinitely Polar Bear, premiered at Sundance in 2015 and went on to play at a lot of film festivals before eventually getting a limited release. While that film wasn’t a huge hit, I think it was a great look at an interesting family dynamic. It dealt with mental illness as well as mixed race relationships. It was well made, and I am interested to see what Forbes can do with a project that doesn’t relate to her own life. The Polka King sounds like it could be comedic gold with a talented cast that includes Jack Black, Jenny Slate, and Jason Schwartzman.
Before Woody Harrelson steps into the Star Wars universe, I am glad that he is taking on a quirky little indie comedy about an unlikable jerk named Wilson. This film, which will be released by Fox Searchlight later this year, looks like a wonderful dark comedy that isn’t afraid to push the envelope while being geared towards educated adults. I love a smart R-rated comedy, and this looks like it is going to deliver. The film is based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes and is directed by Craig Johnson, who previously premiered The Skelton Twins at Sundance back in 2014.
I didn’t know who Jenny Slate was before I saw Obvious Child at Sundance. Obvious Child was a film that I just saw after the producers kept emailing me asking me to see it. With that being said, Obvious Child quickly became one of my favorite films at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Landline is Gillian Robespierre‘s follow-up, and because I was so impressed by her first feature, I can’t help but be super excited about this one. Just like a lot of feature film follow-ups, Landline seems to have a much larger cast and a bigger budget. It is refreshing to see Robespierre take on another story that is a lot different than a standup comedian who accidentally gets pregnant. With Landline’s World Premiere taking place at the Eccles Theater, it is clear that the Sundance programming team, agrees with me that there is plenty of demand for Robespierre follow-up.
1. The Discovery
I loved Charlie McDowell‘s The One I Love so much. The film was a total surprise and such a unique look at two people questioning their relationship. The story was weird yet poignant. I always admire small films that ask big questions in a creative way and The One I Love did just that. The Discovery, which will be released by Netflix in late 2017, sounds inventive and interesting. McDowell reunites with Justin Lader to write a new love story that promises to ask more big questions. This time around, McDowell assembles a large assemble cast including Jason Segal, Rooney Mara, Riley Keough, Robert Redford, and various others. While no one knows exactly how this film will play out, I think The Discovery is one of the most talked-about films to premiere at the festival this year.