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

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

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.

Howl

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

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

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

cinemax Marvel crime thriller Comedy Central Ghostbusters japanese prank blaxploitation The Witch Podcast harry potter Western President BET Awards transformers foreign Grammys Best and Worst BBC superman biopic space Schedule Hulu Superheroes Prime Video Kids & Family video VH1 game of thrones Mudbound APB ABC Signature Creative Arts Emmys MCU CMT Shondaland TCM NBC Sony Pictures Black History Month ABC Lionsgate Star Wars 2015 doctor who mockumentary royal family Quiz 24 frames revenge Mindy Kaling period drama deadpool summer preview Film Festival Premiere Dates IMDb TV TCA Winter 2020 Adult Swim Pacific Islander DC streaming service Holidays dragons streaming sequels Vudu Valentine's Day game show USA Network Action DC Comics politics films Cannes FOX TCA 2017 blockbusters TCA NBA Avengers sports Cartoon Network rt labs telelvision Amazon Prime Video ratings PaleyFest Best Picture Paramount Pictures adaptation Turner Classic Movies live event Captain marvel FXX BAFTA king arthur festivals Character Guide cooking Pride Month Apple rotten movies we love green book travel dramedy spider-verse Fantasy richard e. Grant spanish language universal monsters Country Paramount Red Carpet best Nat Geo comic book movies scary Discovery Channel quibi feel good TV One Sundance Now hollywood A&E suspense Mary Tyler Moore pirates of the caribbean sag awards fresh trophy indiana jones Travel Channel scary movies El Rey LGBTQ jurassic park Pop TV TruTV Pirates BBC One superhero cops award winner nature BBC America Alien slashers Tubi Tarantino Rom-Com LGBT CNN Lucasfilm Spectrum Originals latino ViacomCBS Masterpiece Music Photos toronto ghosts CBS All Access all-time Disney streaming service Women's History Month toy story rom-coms CW Seed YouTube Red Comedy summer TV preview stoner cats Trivia 20th Century Fox Biopics HFPA OneApp marvel comics what to watch free movies Trailer PBS Netflix Christmas movies Spring TV WarnerMedia Focus Features Classic Film natural history Countdown 99% based on movie Academy Awards Apple TV Plus Opinion TV Land dc 72 Emmy Awards Showtime Oscar Pet Sematary RT History Chernobyl Emmys Freeform Watching Series social media monster movies Star Trek Binge Guide romantic comedy international binge dreamworks young adult Anna Paquin batman emmy awards theme song Arrowverse critic resources Awards halloween Elton John crime drama Holiday Epix VICE movie Winter TV police drama elevated horror E! leaderboard WGN GIFs Cosplay cartoon IFC Films biography action-comedy hist psycho children's TV hispanic heritage month Tags: Comedy OWN miniseries Netflix Rocketman Ellie Kemper TIFF nfl series 007 trailers new york Amazon Prime The Walt Disney Company tv talk breaking bad mob Nickelodeon Marathons 93rd Oscars New York Comic Con reboot TLC rotten dark 21st Century Fox Awards Tour Exclusive Video robots video on demand basketball romance south america black comedy The Purge Lifetime Christmas movies SDCC RT21 2019 hispanic witnail james bond 2021 fast and furious Black Mirror australia Teen Song of Ice and Fire Film TNT 2016 spy thriller Best Actor Super Bowl scene in color singing competition Reality casting know your critic X-Men dceu Musical die hard Summer ID godzilla screenings Tokyo Olympics french gangster target Universal Pictures psychological thriller marvel cinematic universe First Look Amazon Studios Best Actress Crackle Tumblr Video Games CBS true crime directors wonder woman TV renewals Warner Bros. classics GLAAD San Diego Comic-Con Box Office History Comic-Con@Home 2021 MTV justice league 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards laika TBS E3 reviews Fox Searchlight Fargo anthology Legendary asian-american Comic Book Stephen King First Reviews criterion festival Certified Fresh Comics on TV popular Television Critics Association golden globes YouTube Premium composers Calendar supernatural italian adenture Disney Channel 4/20 spain American Society of Cinematographers Sundance TV MGM crossover movies Rock docuseries comedies dexter Mary poppins 2018 razzies DGA Superheroe scorecard Toys obituary ESPN crime kids anime SXSW 2022 Horror Columbia Pictures mission: impossible Ovation Year in Review TV Marvel Television kaiju halloween tv football remakes unscripted venice boxoffice Rocky Winners The CW Paramount Network YouTube Martial Arts comics streaming movies worst boxing Emmy Nominations aliens vampires HBO MSNBC stand-up comedy christmas movies television rt archives twilight FX genre Reality Competition Amazon Wes Anderson TCA Awards a nightmare on elm street critics 1990s Britbox zero dark thirty Marvel Studios ABC Family Oscars Acorn TV docudrama Sneak Peek heist movie worst movies Hollywood Foreign Press Association finale cancelled TV shows teaser spider-man TV movies Family Election Starz news independent Thanksgiving AMC rt labs critics edition A24 war cults aapi canceled Musicals legend SundanceTV Walt Disney Pictures streamig The Walking Dead Shudder spinoff FX on Hulu 73rd Emmy Awards sopranos DC Universe National Geographic SXSW AMC Plus Esquire The Academy Pop concert Peacock spanish Best Director stop motion Logo Turner Crunchyroll political drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina serial killer Image Comics king kong Spike jamie lee curtis Tomatazos women South by Southwest Film Festival 45 strong female leads Endgame obi wan medical drama Extras talk show child's play zombie art house book adaptation Animation parents Set visit slasher 94th Oscars name the review comic books 79th Golden Globes Awards vs. Fall TV adventure Syfy DirecTV Infographic Mystery cars Broadway cancelled television 2017 90s Lifetime animated thriller BET new zealand HBO Max hidden camera mutant discovery chucky lord of the rings disaster mcc versus Pixar Sci-Fi technology documentaries USA cancelled screen actors guild kong debate Trophy Talk zombies Sundance comic book movie renewed TV shows Apple TV+ Paramount Plus golden globe awards comiccon facebook Funimation high school black YA nbcuniversal Drama NYCC Baby Yoda Disney+ Disney Plus Heroines new star wars movies Disney Neflix Writers Guild of America Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt franchise The Arrangement book See It Skip It cancelled TV series Disney Plus live action sitcom VOD werewolf Interview Television Academy Nominations comic summer TV Bravo satire dogs Hear Us Out PlayStation science fiction Dark Horse Comics Universal Christmas 71st Emmy Awards japan Hallmark HBO Go olympics Fox News Instagram Live canceled TV shows Mary Poppins Returns historical drama GoT 2020 sequel diversity documentary joker Food Network Brie Larson posters IFC saw ITV Polls and Games indie archives Hallmark Christmas movies blockbuster