Sundance Film Festival 2016

It's that time of year again! I always follow the coverage from Sundance because I love little independent movies, especially when they go on to make a huge splash. (Check out my past posts from 2013, 2014, 2015 to see if any movies became your favorites.) There are always a few Oscar nominees mixed in with some real duds, but that's part of the fun, right? Here are the films I can't wait to see.

As You Are (Mary Stuart Masterson, Scott Cohen, John Scurti, Amandla Stenberg, Charlie Heaton, Owen Campbell) This coming-of-age romance set in the early '90s is a retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation.

Captain Fantastic (Ann Dowd, Steve Zahn, Kathryn Hahn, George MacKay, Frank Langella, Viggo Mortensen) In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Certain Women (Lily Gladstone, Jared Harris, James Le Gros, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern) The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail. A lawyer tries to diffuse a hostage situation and calm her disgruntled client, a married couple breaks ground on a new home but exposes marital fissures, and a ranch hand forms an attachment to a young lawyer.

*Christine (J. Smith-Cameron, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, Michael C. Hall, Rebecca Hall) Based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck, the ambitious but depressed Florida newscaster who infamously shot herself on live television in 1974.

*Complete Unknown (Michael Chernus, Danny Glover, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, Rachel Weisz) As a man contemplates moving to a new state with his wife for her graduate program, an old flame - a woman who often changes identities - reenters his life at a birthday dinner party.

Dark Night (Documentary) The story of the 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado unfolds over the course of a lazy summer day, as it traces the events leading up to the events in the movie theater. It's told through fragmented moments from the lives of several people, whose fates are tragically intertwined.

*Equity (Alysia Reiner, Sarah Megan Thomas, James Purefoy, Anna Gunn) This first female-driven Wall Street film follows a senior investment banker who is threatened by a financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption.

First Girl I Loved (Pamela Adlon, Tim Heidecker, Jennifer Prediger, Mateo Arias, Brianna Hildebrand, Dylan Gelula) Seventeen-year-old Anne just fell in love with Sasha, the most popular girl at her LA public high school. But when Anne tells her best friend Clifton - who has always harbored a secret crush - he does his best to get in the way.

*Goat (Austin Lyon, Danny Flaherty, Virginia Gardner, Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas) Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19 year-old boy enrolls into college with his brother and pledges the same fraternity. What happens there, in the name of "brotherhood" tests the boy and his loyalty to his brother in brutal ways.

Holy Hell (Documentary) After graduating from college, filmmaker Will Allen joined a cult in the heart of West Hollywood, and spent the next 20 years documenting his life there as a kind of annual offering to the cult’s central leader. After escaping, he turned footage and interviews with ex-members into this documentary.

*Hunt for Wilderpeople (Oscar Kightley, Rachel House, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill, Julian Dennison) A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush.

*Indignation (Ben Rosenfield, Danny Burstein, Linda Emond, Tracy Letts, Sarah Gadon, Logan Lerman) In 1951, Marcus, a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, attends a small Ohio college, where he struggles with anti-Semitism, sexual repression, and the ongoing Korean War. Based on Philip Roth's 2008 novel of the same name.

Jacqueline (Argentine) (Enrique Dura, Sarah Willis, Martin Anderson, James Benson, Wyatt Cenac, Camille Rutherford) In this fake documentary, the filmmaker goes deep into a possible political conspiracy. Jacqueline, the woman who convinces the filmmaker of her theories, draws him (and some interns) to a retreat in Argentina.

*Jim: The James Foley Story (Documentary) The beheading of American photojournalist James Foley was, for many, the first time ISIS came into sharp focus as a major new terrorist threat. Director Brian Oakes — a longtime friend of Foley and his family — tells the story of why Foley went to Syria, what it was like for him as a hostage, and how his family dealt with his kidnapping.

Joshy (Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman, Nick Kroll, Alex Ross Perry, Adam Pally, Thomas Middleditch) After his broken engagement, Josh treats what would have been his bachelor party as an opportunity to reconnect with his friends.

Kate Plays Christine (Documentary) In 1974, television host Christine Chubbuck committed suicide on air at a Sarasota, Florida, news station. Though it was the inspiration for the 1976 Best Picture nominee Network, the story and facts remain mostly unknown. Now in the present, actress Kate Lyn Sheil is cast in a “stylized cheap ‘70s soap opera” version of Christine’s story, and to prepare for the role, Kate travels to Sarasota to investigate the tragedy.

Little Men (Michael Barbieri, Theo Taplitz, Paulina Garcia, Jennifer Ehle, Greg Kinnear) Taking place in gentrified Brooklyn, two middle school kids, one from old Brooklyn, the other from new, yuppie Brooklyn, become friends — until a rent dispute between their parents threatens their friendship.

*Lo and Behold Reveries of the Connected World (Documentary) From the brilliant mind of Werner Herzog comes his newest vehicle for exploration, a playful yet chilling examination of our rapidly interconnecting online lives.

Maggie's Plan (Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel) Maggie's plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to the brilliant Georgette.

*Manchester by the Sea (Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Casey Affleck) Lee, a brooding loner handyman, is suddenly named guardian to his late brother's 16-year-old son. Going back to his hometown, Lee is forced to deal with an unspeakable tragedy from his past.

*Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall (Documentary) Director Spike Lee assembles a wealth of archival footage, interviews with contemporary talents and family members, and Michael’s own words and image to create this insightful chronicle of the star’s early rise to fame.

*Morris from America (Levin Henning, Jakub Gierszał, Lina Keller, Carla Juri, Craig Robinson, Markees Christmas) The coming-of-age misadventures of a 13-year-old black American who has to move to Heidleberg, Germany with his father, where he falls in love with a local girl.

Newtown (Documentary) In Kim A. Snyder’s searing new film, we are given exclusive access into the homes of those who lost loved ones during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They speak candidly about their grief, anger, and disbelief over what occurred and how nothing has changed in regards to our legal response to gun violence.

*Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper (Documentary) Gloria Vanderbilt — heiress, artist, designer, and socialite — sits down for an interview with her son Anderson Cooper, where they discuss privilege, love, loss and survival.

*O.J. Made In America (Documentary) It's the story of one of the most polarizing people in American history, O.J. Simpson. The filmmakers explore how Simpson's rise and fall was centered around two of America's greatest fixations — race and celebrity.

Operation Avalanche (Ray James, Josh Boles, Owen Williams, Matt Johnson) In 1967, four undercover CIA agents were sent to NASA posing as a documentary film crew, looking for a Soviet mole. What they discovered led to one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Other People (June Squibb, Zach Woods, Maude Apatow, Bradley Whitford, Molly Shannon, Jesse Plemons) A struggling comedy writer, fresh off a breakup and in the midst of the worst year of his life, returns home to Sacramento to care for his dying mother.

*Tallulah (Uzo Aduba, Evan Jonigkeit, Tammy Blanchard, Allison Janney, Ellen Page) Desperate to be rid of her toddler, a dissatisfied Beverly Hills housewife hires a stranger to babysit and ends up getting much more than she bargained for.

The Bad Kids (Documentary) On a remote patch of the Mojave Desert sits a high school where educators believe empathy, life skills, and the constancy of a caring adult are the differences that will give at-risk students command of their fates.

*The Birth of a Nation (Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Aja Naomi King, Armie Hammer, Nate Parker) Nat Turner, a former slave in America, leads a liberation movement in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virgina that results in a violent retaliation from whites.

The Eyes of My Mother (Diana Agostini, Clara Wong, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Will Brill, Kika Magalhães) A former surgeon teaches her daughter, Francisca, about human bodies and anatomy — but then something bad and violent happens and Francisca has only her father left alive.

The Free World (Waleed Zuaiter, Sung Kang, Octavia Spencer, Elisabeth Moss, Boyd Holbrook) After spending a long time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Mo tries to assimilate back into life after release. He works with abused animals, meets Doris and ends up in a dilemma that might cost him his liberty.

*The Fundamentals of Caring (Frederick Weller, Megan Ferguson, Jennifer Ehle, Selena Gomez, Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd) Ben is a paid caregiver to Trevor, an 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. The two go on a road trip, during which they grow as people and as friends and encounter a bunch of strangers along the way.

*The Hollars (Charlie Day, Sharlto Copley, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, Anna Kendrick, John Krasinski) John Hollar takes his pregnant girlfriend to his small hometown after learning his mother is about to undergo surgery for a brain tumor.

*The Intervention (Ben Schwartz, Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Alia Shawkat, Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey) A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage.

Under the Gun (Documentary) A look at the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre where twenty children were murdered at school by a crazed gunman, but lead to no changes in American gun laws.

*Weiner (Documentary) With unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner, his family, and his campaign team as they mount his New York City mayoral campaign, the film documents the impending political meltdown of epic proportions.

Wiener-Dog (Zosia Mamet, Julie Delpy, Ellen Burstyn, Danny DeVito, Kieran Culkin, Greta Gerwig) This film revolves around the life of a dachshund as it travels around the country, spreading comfort and joy and changing people's lives for the better.

*Yoga Hosers (Tyler Posey, Austin Butler, Justin Long, Johnny Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Depp) From writer/director Kevin Smith, two teenage yoga enthusiasts team up with a legendary man-hunter to battle with an ancient evil presence that is threatening their major party plans.

Does anything look good to you?

*Picked up by a distributor


Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

i dont know much about sundance to be honest, but little men looks interesting because Jennifer Ehle is in it lol. the hollars looks interesting too!

Karen Peterson said...

I feel like Tallulah was supposed to have come out already, but maybe I've just heard a lot about it. Not sure.

And it's weird that there are two different movies about Christine Chubbuck this year.

And I glanced at your list from last year. There are some gems on that list!

Micah said...

There are a bunch of these I'd like to see and will probably seek out.

Fun fact -- A friend of mine had two films he produced shown at Sundance this year. :)

Elle Sees said...

sundance is on my bucket list--i'd love to go there one day. thanks for this roundup! so many i'd love to check out. hoping they get some major releases.

Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand said...

The ones that jump out at me that I have interest in (just by reading your quick synopsis of each): As You Are, Goat, Jim: The James Foley Story, The Bad Kids, Morris from America...

Would Newtown already have released internationally? I feel like I watched (as I was wrapping Christmas presents, and I noticed that I was watching the most un-Christmas-y thing possible) a 2-hour documentary about Sandy Hook that covers survivors, parents of a surviving child, loved ones of a killed teacher, parents of killed students, and information about the aftermath of gun control talk.

Jana @ Jana Says said...

I will pass on all the Sandy Hook documentaries because I just can't. The Holy Hell one is right up my alley. And Manchester by the Sea is on my list of movies to watch because I heart Kyle Chandler and I have a soft spot for Casey Affleck.

Kimberlee VDW said...

Birth of a Nation definitely has my interest especially with the big $$ spent on it. I'm also curious about Nick Jonas in a dramatic role :)