Prince Avalanche

Expectations? This is my first Sundance Film Festival, so the only things I know I’ll encounter are movies, cold snow, overpriced sandwiches, and familiar faces. It should be a great time provided the movies are good, the snow is outside my boots, the sandwiches are tasty and the faces are friendly. Prepare for some very disgruntled tweets otherwise.

Looking through the list of titles playing Sundance this year, I tallied a whopping thirty-eight films that I want to see. Kate Erbland said that made her too nervous, presumably because it’s so close to her age (something she’s very conscious of, EDIT: not even close, Hunter!), so she asked me to drop it to a more youthful number. It wasn’t easy to do, but through a complicated series of algorithms and drinking games, I knocked off twenty-eight. What remains are my ten most anticipated films of Sundance 2013! Read them, and be as excited as I am at the prospect of maybe getting in to see them!

Circles

A heroic act leads to murder, and years later the survivors of the incident find themselves still dealing with the ramifications. I’m a sucker for stories about guilt and revenge, and Srdan Golubovic‘s film looks to be a powerful rumination on the morality that exists between them. My exposure to Serbian cinema is extremely limited to some of the more cynical examples so I’m hoping the beating heart at the center of this film is more interested in humanity than cheap, visceral thrills.

The East

When corporate CEOs began being attacked and forced to ingest their own harmful products an ex-FBI agent (Brit Marling) is tasked with infiltrating the group suspected of the crimes and bringing them down from the inside. But what happens when she starts buying into the group’s agenda? Director Zal Batmanglij returns alongside his Sound of My Voice collaborator Marling with another tale about outsiders exploring a cult only to find the unexpected within. The strength of their first film compels me to watch whatever they do next, and happily their follow-up sounds intriguing as hell.

The Future

A young woman trapped in grief allows herself to be caught up in a dangerous game with a blind neighbor played by Rutger Hauer. Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and pretend this is a long-awaited sequel to Blind Fury, and that means I’m super excited for it. Even if it wasn’t about a blind, white-haired samurai avenging wrongs (which it totally isn’t) the film still sounds intriguing in its mix of criminal behavior, seduction and coming of age drama. I’m unfamiliar with director Alicia Scherson‘s past films, but this looks to be an engaging drama. Possibly filled with Italian ninjas in need of a smack down.

The Look of Love

Cinema is filled with successful comedians who eventually decide to tackle a far more dramatic role, and while they don’t always succeed they are almost always fascinating to watch. Steve Coogan is the sad clown stepping up to the challenge this time, and while he’s proven himself in smaller roles (and ones that skirt drama like The Trip) this feature about real life smut king Paul Raymond promises to push him to his limits. Also interesting is director Michael Winterbottom‘s approach to this biopic which sees his film style change to suit the time frame it’s covering.

Magic Magic

A group of young Americans traveling through Chile find mystery and terror on their journey, and while that sounds like the setup for Turistas 2: Organ Boogaloo it’s actually something far different. Director Sebastián Silva, who actually has two features premiering at Sundance this year, has instead crafted a more subtle mystery about repression, loss and the real value of those we call friends. With Juno Temple in the lead role as the girl at the center of it all and Michael Cera along for the ride as a “strange American” named Brink this looks to be something special.

Prince Avalanche

Honest films about male friendships are few and far between instead supplanted by gross-out comedies (American Pie, The Hangover) that pretend the entirety of a man’s existence revolves around bajangos. That’s part of it to be sure, but there’s also, you know, friendship. The rocky road to building one such friendship seems to be the focus of David Gordon Green‘s return to story/character-based filmmaking, and the casting of Paul Rudd as one of the two men seals the deal on me wanting to see the movie. Emile Hirsch is in it too, but that negative is counterbalanced with a score by Explosions In the Sky.

S-VHS

Look, we can argue about the mixed-bag success of last year’s horror anthology V/H/S, but the takeaway from that experiment is that there are filmmakers still interested in horror anthologies. The films will always be inconsistent, but it’s awesome that they’re getting made at all. The follow-up changes out the talent behind the scenes to include Simon Barrett, Eduardo Sanchez, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans and others, and as a horror fan who only really liked two of the original film’s segments these are some exciting changes.

Stoker

If I need to explain why this is one of my most anticipated films of the fest then you’re reading the wrong movie site. All you need to know is that it’s Park Chan-wook‘s English-language debut, and if you’re saying “Park Chan-who?” right now then there’s really little I can do to help you (aside from insist you seek out and watch JSA, Old Boy, Lady Vengeance and Thirst).

Touchy Feely

Abby is a massage therapist who suddenly feels grossed out at the thought of human contact. Her brother Paul is an emotionally crippled dentist who suddenly discovers the joy his touch brings to his patients. Beyond this I know nothing except that director Lynn Shelton‘s last film, Your Sister’s Sister, was one of my favorites of last year. One of that gem’s stars, Rosemarie DeWitt, returns here and is joined by Ellen Page, Scoot McNairy, Ron Livingston and others. If it’s even half as warm and honest as her last movie I’ll be smiling for days.

Upstream Color

I couldn’t tell you what this movie’s about even if I wanted to. The trailer is a thing of beauty that avoids any amount of detail as to the plot, and I refuse to read the synopsis on the Sundance site because I want to go in completely blank on this one. What I do know is that this is Shane Carruth‘s long awaited (nine years) follow-up to his debut film, Primer, which not only won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance that year but is also one hell of a cool and deceptively simple sci-fi movie. I’m a sucker for movies that surprise me and make me think, and the odds are this one will do both.

Can’t get enough talk about movies that will most likely never get an actual theatrical release after their festival appearances? Bookmark our Sundance tag for all our festival coverage.

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