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

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