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

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