The 2010 Sundance Film Festival kicks off this Thursday night, and this year looks packed full of some really great films -- from the high-profile, star-studded fare to the lesser known, up-and-comers visiting Park City, Utah for the first time, no matter what sort of films you prefer to watch, this year's slate promises to include a little something for everyone … and then some. I'll be hitting up the festival myself this week, and reporting back on all the big buzz – but in the meantime, here are five films you'll most definitely want to keep an eye on as 2010 gets underway.
The Five: Most Buzzed-About Sundance Films
The Company Men
Who's In It: Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Maria Bello
What's It About: The film follows the lives of three men trying to survive a round of layoffs at a major company, and how this affects their lives and the lives of those around them.
The Buzz: The film was written and directed by John Wells, who's been nominated for (and won) several Emmy Awards for his work on television, most notably with The West Wing. Plus, there's no going wrong with that ensemble cast.
Who's In It: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei
What's It About: A man (Reilly) is convinced he's met the woman of his dreams (Tomei)…that is, until he meets her son (Hill).
The Buzz: Written and directed by festival darlings (and comedic geniuses) Jay and Mark Duplass, this is the first film where they'll apply their familiar, laid-back filmmaking approach to a movie that features three very well known actors. The results should be pretty spectacular since the Duplass boys haven't let us down yet.
Who's In It: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Michael Shannon and Alia Shawkat.
What's It About: A coming-of-age biopic about the all-girl '70s teenage rock band The Runaways, which featured a young (and out of control) Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Sandy West and Lita Ford.
The Buzz: The words "lesbian" and "drug use" have made their way into a few advance word-of-mouth posts, and based on the early trailer this looks like a pretty wild flick. Not only should we see a more adult Dakota Fanning coming into her own as an actress entering the next stage in her career, but Stewart's take on Joan Jett is probably one of the most anticipated performances of this year's fest.
Who's In It: Dax Shepard, Katie Aselton
What's It About: A fairly happily married couple decide to grant each other one "freeebie" (ie: one night of relations with a total stranger) in the hopes that it will help stimulate their relationship.
The Buzz: Writer-director-star Katie Aselton is married to Mark Duplass (one half of the Duplass Bros.) in real life, and so we know she comes from very talented surroundings. Plus, this looks to be one of those films that stimulate lots of "relationship" discussion – sort of like last year's Humpday, or the more well known Indecent Proposal.
Who's In It: Shawn Ashmore, Emm Bell, Kevin Zegers
What's It About: Imagine getting stuck on a ski lift after the slopes close for an extended period of time. What do you do? How do you survive?
The Buzz: Obviously this year's Open Water (minus the sharks), Adam Green's Frozen looks to be the perfect scary movie to watch while in a ski resort town like Park City, Utah. Um…or not.
Which Sundance film are you looking forward to seeing? Also, let me know which films you're interested in knowing more about and I'll make sure to report back after I see them.
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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.