ENTERTAINMENT

17 Sundance Movies We're Eager To See

Including Cate Blanchett in 13 roles, Al Gore's new doc and Netflix's "The Discovery."

20/01/2017 1:19 AM AEDT | Updated 24/01/2017 9:28 AM AEDT
Sundance
Cate Blanchett plays 13 characters in "Manifesto," premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.

Every January, throngs of movie lovers gather in the snowy hills of Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival. It’s an 11-day preview of the year’s indie-cinema offerings, and a breeding ground for the brightest big-screen talent, both emerging and established. The Huffington Post will be there throughout the festival, serving up reviews, interviews and coverage of all the goings-on, which this year includes a Trump protest led by Chelsea Handler in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington. 

With Sundance kicking off Thursday, we’ve rounded up 17 movies that have already piqued our interest. Some of these could become breakout hits, possibly playing a role in next year’s Oscar derby. That’s the thing with Sundance ― the lineup is always so stacked that it’s hard to know which titles will rise to the top and which will fall into the moviegoing void. For now, here’s a smattering of appealing picks.

  • "The Discovery"
    Sundance
    It's easy to see why Netflix bought the rights to "The Discovery" last summer. Set in a world with supposed proof of the afterlife, this alluring sci-fi dystopia is part "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and part "Flatliners." Its roster is stacked, too: "The One I Love" mastermind directed the movie, and Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford and Jesse Plemons star.
  • "Mudbound"
    Sundance
    One of the best movies you've never seen is "Pariah," a tiny coming-of-age indie that won acclaim at Sundance in 2011. Dee Rees was instantly christened a director to watch. Her second theatrical feature, "Mudbound," is based on the 2008 novel of the same name, set in rural Mississippi amid the aftermath of World War II. Exploring race and class, "Mudbound" stars Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke and Jonathan Banks.
  • "Manifesto"
    Sundance
    "Manifesto" began as a New York art installation, and now Julian Rosefeldt has merged his 13 short films into one feature. It's a tour de force for Cate Blanchett, who portrays a different eccentric in each chapter, including a homeless woman, a rock star, a puppeteer and a news anchor.
  • "Marjorie Prime"
    Sundance
    Well, here's an intriguing premise: A man (Tom Robbins) employs a hologram service to create a younger version of his dead father-in-law. Jon Hamm plays the hologram. "Marjorie Prime" is the latest project from Michael Almereyda, who made 2000's contemporary "Hamlet" with Ethan Hawke." It co-stars Geena Davis and Lois Smith.
  • "An Inconvenient Sequel"
    Sundance
    It's been 11 years since "An Inconvenient Truth" lit up the climate-change debate. Al Gore is back with the cleverly titled follow-up "An Inconvenient Sequel." One of Sundance's opening-night movies, the new documentary seems optimistic, teasing a look at how close we're coming to finding solutions. (Keep in mind it was made before Donald Trump was elected.)
  • "The Incredible Jessica James"
    Sundance
    You know Jessica Williams as a "Daily Show" correspondent, a "Girls" guest performer and co-host of the uproarious podcast "2 Dope Queens." Now she's a movie star. Williams plays an aspiring playwright rebounding from a breakup. Chris O'Dowd and Noël Wells also star in "The Incredible Jessica James," the latest from "The Hollars" writer and "People Places Things" director James C. Strouse.
  • "Landline"
    Sundance
    Jenny Slate and Gillian Robespierre gave us 2014's wonderful "Obvious Child," and now they are giving us the wonderful-sounding "Landline." Slate and Abby Quinn play 1990s sisters who discover their father is having an affair. Edie Falco is on hand as their mother.
  • "The Big Sick"
    Sundance
    "Silicon Valley" star and supreme tweeter Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote his first movie with wife Emily V. Gordon. "The Big Sick" is a comedy about the growing pains of relationships, with Zoe Kazan playing Nanjiani's better half. 
  • "Call Me By Your Name"
    Sundance
    Luca Guadagnino's movies ooze sensuality, so expect a burning flame of desire at the core of "Call Me By Your Name." The "I Am Love" and "A Bigger Splash" director has adapted André Aciman's novel of the same name, which showcases one fateful Italian summer in the life of a teenager (Timothée Chalamet) whose sexuality is awakened by an older gentleman (Armie Hammer).
  • "Ingrid Goes West"
    Sundance
    Why does Ingrid go west? Because she is obsessed with a social media celebrity and because she is not of sound mind. Aubrey Plaza plays Ingrid, and Elizabeth Olsen plays her Instagram idol. 
  • "I Love Dick"
    Sundance
    This one is technically a TV show, but who wouldn't be excited about something called "I Love Dick"? Amazon's adaptation of Chris Kraus' feminist novel has an all-star slate of directors, including Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold and Kimberly Peirce. Kathryn Hahn and Griffin Dunne play a married couple who fall for the same artist (Kevin Bacon).
  • "Last Men in Aleppo"
    Sundance
    As always, the Sundance lineup is chock full of promising documentaries. "Last Men in Aleppo" chronicles first responders tackling the chaos of Syria's ongoing civil war.
  • "Rebel in the Rye"
    Sundance
    Nicholas Hoult deserves a starring vehicle, and J.D. Salinger may be his ticket. Hoult plays the reclusive writer in this biopic written and directed by "Empire" co-creator Danny Strong. "Rebel in the Rye" depicts Salinger's relationship with Hollywood starlet Oona O’Neill and his composition of The Catcher in the Rye.
  • "City of Ghosts"
    Sundance
    As evidenced by the jaw-dropping footage in "Cartel Land," Matthew Heineman is one of today's most daring documentarians. With "City of Ghosts," he dares to embed himself with a band of Syrian activists working to combat ISIS.
  • "Person to Person"
    Sundance
    At Sundance in 2014, Dustin Guy Defa won acclaim for his short film of the same name. He's since expanded the story of New Yorkers experiencing various ups and downs across a single day. We're mostly just excited to see Abbi Jacobson and Michael Cera, who seem born to share a screen. 
  • "The Little Hours"
    Sundance
    Sundance programmed "The Little Hours" in its Midnight section, which tends to house the festival's weird genre movies. This one, written and directed by Josh Baena ("Life After Beth"), stars Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci as emotionally volatile medieval nuns who take a liking to a horny servant (Dave Franco). 
  • "Walking Out"
    Sundance
    "Walking Out" doesn't sound like your typical Sundance fare, which is all the more enticing. A semi-estranged father-son duo (Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins) find themselves battling the elements -- and a vicious grizzly bear -- on a hunting trip.

Correction: An earlier version of this post indicated Kevin Bacon plays Kathryn Hahn’s husband on “I Love Dick.”

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