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

OWN BET Awards Academy Awards satire 007 a nightmare on elm street movie deadpool Amazon Prime Video elevated horror festival BBC America aliens Anna Paquin international HBO rt labs Paramount 2018 The Witch animated science fiction 73rd Emmy Awards TCA harry potter monster movies prank asian-american politics Mindy Kaling Horror 2016 Disney Country 24 frames documentary Television Academy Film black comedy period drama Musical 93rd Oscars Lifetime Christmas movies Mudbound Tokyo Olympics award winner based on movie SundanceTV FX CW Seed Walt Disney Pictures free movies MCU rotten movies we love Cartoon Network Family LGBT foreign LGBTQ strong female leads Television Critics Association comic books emmy awards Peacock Syfy Amazon nbcuniversal cancelled television series ABC Signature best Biopics Thanksgiving TNT golden globe awards breaking bad The CW Columbia Pictures Election green book video on demand DC Comics theme song political drama PBS versus YouTube Red romantic comedy psychological thriller Marvel kids OneApp discovery The Academy sports Pop TV comedies Cannes japan cancelled TV shows feel good japanese Apple robots Podcast IFC Films zombie 2020 YouTube olympics Netflix Christmas movies The Purge Summer halloween tv TCM composers binge comics anthology quibi 99% mcc Disney streaming service target movies telelvision NYCC unscripted Dark Horse Comics new star wars movies Pet Sematary Mystery jamie lee curtis DGA TLC true crime hidden camera IFC Teen Premiere Dates TV movies Nickelodeon TV renewals Lucasfilm sag awards Disney+ Disney Plus scary movies kong justice league Music BBC sopranos Emmy Nominations Alien Martial Arts Star Wars Video Games Infographic Elton John spy thriller medical drama Freeform ratings nfl HBO Max Box Office ITV Star Trek king arthur wonder woman Masterpiece art house Lionsgate dark Pixar Sneak Peek documentaries Marathons fast and furious blockbuster thriller anime Neflix mob docudrama Comedy Super Bowl Ovation The Walking Dead biography south america spider-man films dexter Baby Yoda dceu Hallmark American Society of Cinematographers Travel Channel First Look Spectrum Originals 2019 FX on Hulu Reality Competition worst children's TV Reality Lifetime Musicals Binge Guide spanish language genre Extras Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt gangster Fox Searchlight Arrowverse razzies dragons comic ABC Marvel Television Pop spain facebook crime The Arrangement BBC One Sundance Now universal monsters BAFTA MSNBC latino comiccon Fantasy TCA Winter 2020 Spike adaptation Marvel Studios Winners Amazon Studios See It Skip It Calendar Set visit independent Comic Book 45 Quiz 2017 MTV Rom-Com zero dark thirty high school Paramount Network what to watch sitcom king kong AMC Plus WarnerMedia werewolf scary San Diego Comic-Con new zealand Interview IMDb TV Rocketman E! A&E teaser book Year in Review spanish directors black X-Men Tubi Endgame Valentine's Day obituary Hear Us Out streaming movies cars critic resources batman spinoff reviews Food Network comic book movies Universal Pictures Amazon Prime Trailer boxing Disney Channel diversity Nat Geo game show child's play concert fresh Paramount Plus video Song of Ice and Fire Sony Pictures 21st Century Fox streaming posters 72 Emmy Awards royal family Photos Watching Series hist Chilling Adventures of Sabrina NBC Trophy Talk scene in color hispanic cops christmas movies APB Grammys El Rey women CBS crime drama ViacomCBS crossover pirates of the caribbean tv talk Wes Anderson vs. jurassic park game of thrones Discovery Channel Netflix blaxploitation FXX critics Stephen King GoT TIFF Epix Legendary Disney Plus social media E3 canceled Tarantino Fox News Apple TV+ Writers Guild of America boxoffice Comic-Con@Home 2021 Acorn TV Starz CNN GLAAD Oscars finale Comedy Central psycho cats CMT A24 indie sequels rt archives New York Comic Con Trivia toy story laika dreamworks stoner debate Drama slashers Certified Fresh PaleyFest heist movie stand-up comedy action-comedy die hard TV One mockumentary singing competition Western trailers Animation Nominations PlayStation GIFs zombies Women's History Month 2015 AMC revenge Apple TV Plus crime thriller book adaptation joker italian remakes VH1 Tumblr young adult YA VOD live action television adenture Mary Poppins Returns National Geographic popular technology DC streaming service First Reviews screen actors guild Crunchyroll Chernobyl NBA mission: impossible SXSW Adult Swim rotten USA Network australia President SDCC Showtime 4/20 cooking saw james bond marvel cinematic universe rt labs critics edition Film Festival CBS All Access basketball archives transformers Crackle BET ID kaiju Vudu Holiday talk show Best and Worst screenings chucky venice police drama Opinion Shudder cancelled sequel Cosplay cinemax Black Mirror Exclusive Video supernatural History Turner Classic Movies Holidays superhero Brie Larson Hallmark Christmas movies mutant classics Action comic book movie worst movies dramedy Red Carpet criterion Pride Month The Walt Disney Company twilight Black History Month TruTV new york Esquire suspense toronto Hulu TCA 2017 ESPN Spring TV Instagram Live 2021 superman Fall TV Superheroes Ghostbusters Avengers natural history TV nature doctor who legend vampires ABC Family DirecTV Ellie Kemper travel RT21 casting VICE parents godzilla ghosts spider-verse Funimation adventure USA witnail Rocky stop motion 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards lord of the rings Turner Awards marvel comics docuseries Logo live event indiana jones Superheroe Countdown WGN golden globes Bravo french 20th Century Fox biopic canceled TV shows miniseries Creative Arts Emmys Sundance reboot Character Guide cartoon dogs festivals Kids & Family HBO Go halloween Image Comics Sundance TV slasher Christmas Rock Polls and Games Tomatazos Pacific Islander Pirates Shondaland cults romance TCA Awards Classic Film serial killer all-time Schedule Emmys 90s know your critic aapi blockbusters cancelled TV series Broadway YouTube Premium DC Universe dc Heroines TV Land scorecard Mary poppins renewed TV shows Comics on TV football 71st Emmy Awards rom-coms Mary Tyler Moore Winter TV Awards Tour TBS Captain marvel Warner Bros. franchise richard e. Grant news RT History Sci-Fi hispanic heritage month Universal Britbox disaster name the review hollywood space FOX Toys 1990s war historical drama