Sundance 2010: RT's 10 Most Anticipated Movies

We pick the handful of features you simply can't afford to miss.

by | December 4, 2009 | Comments

Sundance 2009

Five or six years ago, the Sundance Film Festival was more famous for showing dozens of worthy, politically correct movies that instantly disappeared than the odd breakout hits that it spawned, which previously included the likes of The Blair Witch Project, Reservoir Dogs and El Mariachi. Recently, however, the festival has become an excellent launching ground for low-budget movies from across the world, with the 2009 event showcasing the likes of British indie hits Moon and In The Loop and starting the awards momentum for two very different rites of passage movies: An Education and Precious, both tipped for Academy Award/BAFTA success. This year, under the stewardship of new artistic director John Cooper, Sundance shows no sign of slowing down, as its 2010 choices seem to suggest. RT picks 10 we’re keen to see, in strictly alphabetical order.


Buried – Sundance wouldn’t be Sundance without a low-budget shocker featuring a very twisted, claustrophobic conceit, and following the likes of Saw and Cube comes Buried, an Iraq-set thrill-chiller in which a civilian contractor is kidnapped by insurgents and wakes up to find himself buried alive in a coffin, with just a cellphone, a candle and a knife to hand. Co-starring absolutely nobody else, Buried promises to be both a gruelling study of terror and tension and a much-deserved vehicle for the underrated Ryan Reynolds, who has yet to find his proper place in Hollywood after a series of ill-advised romcoms.

The Extra Man

The Extra ManShari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini made a big splash with their Sundance hit American Splendor — and then promptly blotted it with the poorly-received The Nanny Diaries. This adaptation of an upscale novel by Jonathan Ames should undo the damage, starring Paul Dano as a struggling writer who leaves his teacing job and moves to New York, where he falls for a co-worker (Katie Holmes) and moves in with a crazy playwright (Kevin Kline) who makes ends meet by working as an escort for rich women in the Upper East Side. A mentor-pupil relationship blossoms, but whatever chemistry exists between Kline and Dano will doubtless be overlooked in the media if Holmes’ superstar spouse turns up.

Four Lions

Four Lions – After In The Loop‘s warm reception in 2009, Armando Iannucci‘s old friend Christopher Morris tries his hand there with this uncomfortable black comedy about a team of British suicide bombers. Self-billed as a “comedy of terror”, Morris’s big-screen debut is unlikely to make many easy friends with the tabloids by looking for laughs in a still very painful subject. Still, it seems the film is the result of surprisingly in-depth research by Morris, who concluded that religious fanatics have their bad days like the rest of us. “As Spinal Tap understood heavy metal and Dr Strangelove the Cold War,” says the film’s production company, Warp Films, “Four Lions understands modern British jihadis.”


Hesher – A Sundance veteran at the ripe young age of 28, Joseph Gordon-Levitt follows last year’s surprise hit [500] Days Of Summer with yet another change of style. After proving he can do standard leading man stuff, Gordon-Levitt here disappears under a beard, wig and some pretty terrible tattoos to play Hesher (pictured, in his pants), a 20-something metalhead stoner who befriends a young boy who’s coming to terms with his mother’s death. Natalie Portman, who also produced, co-stars as a supermarket worker who befriends the boy in the feature debut from Spencer Susser, director of the 2001 Star Wars-themed short R2-D2: Beneath The Dome.


HowlJames Franco plays Allen Ginsberg in this ambitious docudrama about the legal wrangles that faced the gay Beat writer when his landmark poem Howl was tried for obscenity in San Francisco in 1957. Details are still sketchy — Franco’s performance may be part of a reconstruction within a traditional documentary frame — and there is even talk of animation being used, but it’s clear that Howl will focus on the younger Ginsberg and the ramifications of the trial, which raised serious questions about censorship, rather than his life story: Beat historians will note that the cast list includes a Jack Kerouac and a Neal Cassady but no William S Burroughs (who left the US at the start of the decade after shooting his wife), suggesting the film will focus on a very slim period of time.

The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me – The hardboiled crime novels of Jim Thompson have had a tough time translating to film, with only Stephen FrearsThe Grifters coming close to his dark and sleazy stylings. Filmed once before with Stacy Keach, The Killer Inside Me is perhaps Thompson’s best known book, telling the story of a seemingly innocuous smalltown sheriff who hides a psychopathic secret. For Michael Winterbottom‘s adaptation, set in a shimmering 50s-style West Texas, The Assassination Of Jesse James star Casey Affleck plays the sadistic, two-faced sheriff and Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba play the broads. Meanwhile, for support, you can’t ask for better character players than Ned Beatty, Bill Pullman and Elias Koteas.


Lucky – After the spelling-bee documentary Spellbound and the debating society comedy Rocket Science, in which he discovered Up in the Air‘s breakout star Anna Kendrick, Jeffrey Blitz returns to non-fiction with this study of the effects of massive wins on people who enter lotteries. “In some ways I think Lucky is a kind of anti-Spellbound,” Blitz tells RT. “That’s not to say that it’s all doom and gloom, because it certainly isn’t. But if Spellbound was about people working hard toward a seemingly impossible goal, this movie is about the opposite — people whose lives transform utterly and wholly without the slightest effort. For me, they kind of lock together like that.”


Splice – The ingenious, high-tech corporate conspiracy thriller Cypher didn’t quite break director Vincenzo Natali into the mainstream, but the more explicitly horror-themed Splice — showing in Sundance’s genre-friendly Midnight strand — might find him a welcoming cult audience. A cautionary tale set in the world of modern genetics, it stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as a pair of scientists who play dangerous games with human and animal DNA. But though it features state of the art effects, the film has been hailed as a return to the bizarre, intelligent psychological sci-fi style pioneered by David Cronenberg in the 80s, most notably in his classic remake of The Fly.

Sympathy for Delicious

Sympathy for Delicious – It’s a well known fact that everybody in the world likes Mark Ruffalo, and after a few years away in mainstream Hollywood (his last Sundance appearance was with 2004’s We Don’t Live Here Anymore), he returns with his directing debut. Christopher Thornton stars as ‘Delicious’ Dean O’Dwyer, an LA DJ who is confined to a wheelchair after an accident that leaves him paralysed. Delicious finds that he has the healing touch, a gift that only benefits others, but the DJ sees a way to fulfill his rock’n’roll fantasies in a dark comedy that also marks the return of Orlando Bloom as the tattooed, buff rocker who helps him.

Welcome to the Rileys

Welcome to the RileysKristen Stewart was a festival newbie in 2009 with the achingly Sundance indie Adventureland, and she clearly liked it so much she’s going back with two more. The Runaways, in which she plays femme rocker Joan Jett, tells the story of America’s most famous all-girl rock’n’roll band. Welcome to the Rileys, however, might be the one to scandalise the Twilight fans, since KStew is rumoured to be doing her first nude scene, playing a teenage lapdancer who befriends a lonely businessman (James Gandolfini). Melissa Leo, who received an Oscar nomination for her role in 2008 Sundance winner Frozen River, plays his wife, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of their daughter.

Sundance Film Festival runs January 21st to 31st in Park City, Utah.

Tag Cloud

werewolf Acorn TV Apple TCA Awards Pop TV harry potter documentary Disney Plus Apple TV+ superhero Nat Geo travel green book technology Rom-Com Disney+ Disney Plus crossover football emmy awards Pixar SDCC movies Nominations FXX Certified Fresh El Rey History comic USA Network cops YouTube Premium Classic Film hispanic discovery renewed TV shows Sundance HBO Cannes Cosplay Mary Tyler Moore Anna Paquin Women's History Month adaptation cancelled TV shows crime thriller psycho YouTube documentaries festival The Academy 24 frames Sundance TV Best and Worst psychological thriller Quiz USA australia 2020 game show AMC video on demand anthology Elton John 45 Arrowverse based on movie APB IFC stoner hist streaming crime drama Marathons name the review Opinion PBS TruTV GoT 21st Century Fox Super Bowl archives cinemax TCA sag awards spinoff toronto period drama dc criterion thriller DC streaming service BBC One Rock Writers Guild of America festivals GIFs obituary dragons docudrama Video Games Valentine's Day mission: impossible medical drama Mary Poppins Returns Oscars casting Trailer RT History SXSW Action Hallmark Christmas movies A24 Winners zombies worst movies TBS DirecTV DGA Podcast Mudbound Song of Ice and Fire FX on Hulu X-Men VOD Universal Starz aliens Sony Pictures Peacock Food Network 20th Century Fox children's TV stop motion President natural history twilight Awards Spectrum Originals james bond Ellie Kemper Columbia Pictures TV renewals singing competition Tubi screen actors guild Showtime strong female leads BBC comics WarnerMedia TV Lifetime remakes sequels Hallmark NYCC cats Fox Searchlight ghosts die hard Western BAFTA golden globes BET Awards Spring TV Infographic Crunchyroll vampires First Look christmas movies Musical Film WGN Grammys Music jamie lee curtis FX fast and furious 2016 Apple TV Plus sitcom Winter TV toy story Walt Disney Pictures Interview Character Guide boxoffice The Arrangement Kids & Family Funimation cancelled TV series space NBC adventure teaser slashers ESPN mockumentary batman doctor who rotten indie Drama Lifetime Christmas movies cancelled Pop Netflix YA breaking bad Nickelodeon comic books Britbox Marvel Television movie BBC America Travel Channel scary movies Brie Larson biography Disney ITV Horror Heroines Hear Us Out The Walking Dead french Warner Bros. video comiccon spanish language Esquire IFC Films Schedule Black History Month Rocky blaxploitation Epix sequel critics all-time Pirates VH1 finale TCA Winter 2020 4/20 Marvel Studios Cartoon Network Mystery Lucasfilm Fantasy reboot YouTube Red what to watch Trivia CNN Comics on TV Calendar ABC Family PlayStation American Society of Cinematographers OneApp halloween anime Logo parents concert classics Tumblr Holidays Sundance Now Disney streaming service HBO Max unscripted spain spanish ABC versus Photos revenge binge supernatural reviews See It Skip It dceu GLAAD PaleyFest nature The Purge canceled TV shows latino true crime Amazon Prime Holiday halloween tv Musicals witnail south america Television Academy Endgame Mindy Kaling canceled TCM ID miniseries facebook The CW hollywood game of thrones independent Syfy OWN richard e. Grant Black Mirror political drama Adult Swim Box Office historical drama TIFF Thanksgiving laika Reality Turner Classic Movies Rocketman Shudder nbcuniversal dogs Election ratings cults Comedy Central Polls and Games Crackle TCA 2017 Fox News disaster New York Comic Con E! Hulu Comedy asian-american Biopics Trophy Talk rt archives Academy Awards politics MSNBC foreign television Animation spy thriller National Geographic cooking Amazon Prime Video Baby Yoda TLC Set visit Star Trek Avengers justice league TV Land Extras Year in Review a nightmare on elm street DC Comics Masterpiece screenings talk show CMT Martial Arts Netflix Christmas movies comedies Binge Guide Captain marvel social media serial killer HBO Go Emmy Nominations CBS All Access Paramount Network robots Countdown FOX Teen theme song TNT scorecard indiana jones Amazon Studios Vudu Mary poppins rotten movies we love Family composers Creative Arts Emmys The Witch Spike Amazon Country Star Wars films Marvel Bravo chucky 007 2015 Shondaland diversity MTV cancelled television Discovery Channel cars child's play free movies transformers Comic Book Superheroe Emmys satire 2019 nfl Chilling Adventures of Sabrina First Reviews Sci-Fi Watching Series romance Ovation universal monsters Pride Month dark 71st Emmy Awards Lionsgate franchise Awards Tour Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt book animated VICE directors A&E LGBT blockbuster 72 Emmy Awards Toys news crime Fall TV best cartoon Turner romantic comedy Tarantino Television Critics Association Summer dramedy BET deadpool Disney Channel tv talk series Red Carpet award winner Ghostbusters venice Chernobyl zero dark thirty spider-man italian worst Freeform RT21 Superheroes DC Universe science fiction sports black Tomatazos 2017 Premiere Dates Stephen King zombie MCU Dark Horse Comics elevated horror Paramount Film Festival kids mutant SundanceTV Sneak Peek stand-up comedy quibi police drama japanese San Diego Comic-Con Pet Sematary joker LGBTQ Reality Competition 2018 CBS E3 CW Seed Christmas war