You may have noticed that the 2011 Sundance Film Festival has come to an end, or maybe you didn’t. Fact is, these film festivals are extremely important for select few (press, industry, studios), but the average moviegoing public doesn’t really invest a lot in Sundance until its films begin hitting theaters. Essentially, you all want me to skip all the boring parts and cut straight to the chase: Which Sundance films should you look out for in theaters this year?
The 10 Sundance Films You Need to See
Well I just got back from the festival, and I can give you 10 films to put on your 2011 radar because they’re all worth a watch. Check it:
1. Like Crazy (Release Date: TBD) – This film won the Grand Jury Prize (U.S. Competition) at this year’s festival, which is a pretty big deal because the past two winners (Precious, Winter’s Bone) have gone on to Oscar nominations for Best Picture. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones (remember that name) star as a couple navigating their way through a long distance relationship that’s slowly sucking the life out of them. This was my favorite film of the festival, and I guarantee you’ll find something (and maybe someone) to love here. (Just don’t forget the box of tissues.)
2. Take Shelter – (Release Date: TBD) – If there’s one guaranteed “Oscar movie” to come out of Sundance this year, it’s Take Shelter, which stars Michael Shannon as a man haunted by dreams of an impending powerful apocalyptic storm heading in his direction. Is the storm real, or is he just suffering from early stages of paranoid schizophrenia? You’ll need to see it to find out.
3. Project Nim – (Release Date: TBD) – This fan-favorite documentary tells the story of a chimpanzee who’s taken from his home and raised by a human family in New York City in the 1970s. Funny, adorable and somewhat unsettling, this doc shows you the extent to which we tried to turn a chimp into one of us.
4. Another Earth – (Release Date: TBD) – This low-budget sci-fi romance stars newcomer Brit Marling as a girl who tries to befriend the man whose family she accidentally killed while driving drunk. Meanwhile, while this is happening, the entire world is all caught up in the discovery of a second Earth-like planet. Part romance drama, part science fiction film, Another Earth will definitely leave you searching for another you.
5. Sound of My Voice – (Release Date: TBD) – Another film starring Brit Marling (remember this name too), here she stars as the leader of a growing cult who have started to follow her and listen to her instructions because she claims to be from the future. One couple plans to expose her, however, by going undercover and secretly filming the cult in action. Once they begin, though, they begin to question whether or not Future Girl is actually telling the truth. Another low-budget relationship film with genre elements, this one is best consumed as part of a double feature with Another Earth because the two are excellent companion pieces.
6. My Idiot Brother (Release Date: TBD) – A hilarious (and heartwarming) comedy about being a better person, My Idiot Brother stars Paul Rudd as a friendly hippie who’s forced to move out of his farm and in with his three New York City-based sisters (played by Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel and Elizabeth Banks) after being kicked out by his ex-girlfriend. Hilarity – and Paul Rudd’s greatest role ever – ensues.
7. Red State – (Release Date: 10/19, though a cross-country road show begins in NYC on 3/5) -- Kevin Smith’s latest film is a major departure for the comedic writer-director as it’s primarily a religious thriller about three horny teens who go looking for a good time, but are instead kidnapped by a sadistic cult hell-bent on making them pay for their sins. The film’s tone fluctuates between high tension and Smith’s trademark humor, but it’s still pretty damn watchable, and definitely worth your time.
8. How to Die in Oregon – (Release Date: TBD) -- This year’s gotta-get-your-cry-on documentary takes a look at how the state of Oregon is handling physician-assisted suicides after making them legal back in 1994, and the people who are directly impacted by them.
9. Win Win – (Release Date: March 18th) – Paul Giamatti stars as a down-on-his-luck attorney who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach and begins mentoring a troubled youth when the kid’s grandfather is forced into an old-age home. Cute, quirky and full of the realities of life, Win Win is a winner of many different levels.
10. Cedar Rapids – (Release Date: February 11th) – Picture The Hangover at an insurance salesman’s convention, and you get Cedar Rapids – a film featuring Ed Helms in his first big lead role as a sheltered insurance salesman who travels to a convention, meets up with a crazy John C. Reilly and proceeds to have the time of his life.
Which Sundance films of you most looking forward to? Check our our all new Indie Movie Guide with photos from Sundance and more news and info.
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Erik DavisFandango Bloggers
Erik is a leading movie commentator who has worked for outlets such as AOL Moviefone and Movies.com.