15 Must-See Films of Sundance 2012


Although the found footage aspect of the horror genre has run a bit thin (I’m looking at you The Devil Inside), V/H/S promises to be an interesting addition to the genre as viewers are forced to watch the unsettling content of various VHS tapes along with the thieves hired to find a specific tape out of what seems like a never ending pack. Add to this a group of directors who are no strangers to horror (Adam Wingard, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, David Bruckner and Joe Swanberg) including Ti West who wrote and directed last year’s The Innkeepers, which successfully terrified viewers as it made the festival rounds. 

Under African Skies

Music has always been a medium with the ability to spark conflict and bring about change, bonding some while dividing others. Paul Simon’s album “Graceland” combined American and African music and while successful (both financially and culturally) when Simon travels to South Africa for a performance in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary the album’s release, he realizes his album’s impact was not all positive and is forced to face that fact head on. Documentary director Joe Berlinger brings us not only into Simon’s world, but also shows us how his music and impact influenced other artists like Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and Paul McCartney. 

Shadow Dancer

Mixing politics and family, Shadow Dancer focuses on a woman’s attempt to bring down the organization that broke up her family and after a failed bombing, is forced to become an informant for that organization to keep herself out of prison and her son safe.  As people begin to question Collette’s (Andrea Riseborough) motives and the MI5 officer (Clive Owen) forcing her to work for him tries to keep her safe, their story takes many twists in turns under the sharp direction of James Marsh in the face of the volatile political landscape of Northern Ireland .


Featuring one of last year’s breakout stars, Brit Marling returns to Sundance alongside Richard Gere, Susan Saradon and Tim Roth in a thriller about the constantly changing financial landscape. Robert Miller (Gere) seems to be the example of success, but the truth behind his success is threatened to come to light if he is unable to pull off his biggest business deal yet. As the directorial debut of Nicholas Jarecki, the film features a strong cast scored by one of last year’s most influential composers, (at least in my opinion) Cliff Martinez, making this film one to check out.

Liberal Arts

Elizabeth Olsen was also noted as one of the breakout stars from last year’s Sundance (for her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene) and returns to the fest with fellow Sundance alumn Josh Radnor in a film that tells the story of a man who goes back to college to instill his wisdom on students only to find himself potentially learning even more from one of the undergrads. Radnor wears three hats as writer, director and leading man and should be undoubtably kept on his toes on screen by the enigmatic Olsen as Liberal Arts looks to show how meeting one person can change one’s outlook on life.

This Must Be The Place

Making its North American debut at Sundance, director Paolo Sorrentino brings a new twist to the aging rock star with This Must Be The Place. Rather than try and reconnect with his distant father through a bonding excursion (like camping or fishing), Cheyenne (Sean Penn) opts instead to track down the Nazi who made his father’s life in a concentration camp even more intolerable. Adding to this emotionally charged quest is Penn dolled up in mascara and lipstick as goth rock front-man, Cheyenne, making this potentially volatile plot even more interesting.


From the director of Rubber (a film about a killer…tire), Quentin Dupieux brings us his latest film about a man, Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick), who loses his dog and in his quest to find his four-legged friend runs across a bevy of different characters. Dupieux proved he can make a slightly off-beat premise compelling with Rubber so his take on a man searching for his dog (and possibly losing his mind in the process) should prove nothing less than original. And with a title like Wrong, one can only imagine how Dolph’s search will take some unexpected turns.


While it sounds slightly like the female version of The Hangover (with a touch of Bridesmaids), the cast of Bachelorette is hard to write off (Kristen Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden and Adam Scott) with producing partners Will Ferrell and Adam McKay at the helm promises to make this a hilarious trip to the theater. Bridesmaids has proven that female driven comedies are not all shoes and gossip and Bachelorette sounds like it will keep the potty humor and add in some more drugs as this group of girlfriends try and get their bride to the alter, but not before one last night on the town.

Snuggle up with the rest of our Sundance 2012 coverage

Allison has always been fascinated by the power music has when paired with an image – particularly its effect in film. Thanks to a background in recording and her days spent licensing music to various productions (including, of course, movies), Allison can usually be found sticking around to see all the songs noted in a film’s credits and those listening to her iTunes inevitably ask, “What movie is this song from?”

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