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Our 20 Most-Anticipated Films at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Written by on January 16, 2017 

13. City of Ghosts (Matthew Heineman)

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Coming off the Oscar-nominated Cartel Land, director Matthew Heineman is returning to Sundance and has once again embedded himself into a vital part of global conflict. City of Ghosts finds the director capturing a group of journalists who were in exile after ISIS took over their homeland in 2014. With the makings of one of the most essential documentaries of the year, hopefully Heineman once again proves himself as an superb visual journalist.

12. 78/52 (Alexandre Philippe)

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If one thought Room 237 was an exhaustively detailed look at The Shining, how about a feature-length documentary that looks at a single iconic scene in film history? That’s precisely what 78/52 does, named after the 78 set-ups and 52 cuts found within the legendary shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Featuring Guillermo del Toro, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Eli Roth, Peter Bogdanovich, and more, the film takes an in-depth look at its creation and influence, promising to be an essential watch for cinephiles.

11. Landline (Gillian Robespierre)

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We imagine after the success of Obvious Child that writer-director Gillian Robespierre had no shortage of Hollywood comedies to choose from. Thankfully she’s decided to stick with something in her own voice, Landline, marking another re-team with Jenny Slate. This time going the period piece route, the film finds her in a 1995 Manhattan following the Jacobs family, a dysfunctional group whose daughters attempt to expose their father’s affair.

10. Wind River (Taylor Sheridan)

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After proving his screenwriting talents with Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan’s latest film finds him behind the camera. Set for a premiere this weekend at the festival, Wind River sets Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen’s characters in an unforgiving Wyoming as they attempt to discover the mystery behind a dead body. Unfortunately, The Weinstein Company has decided to drop the film ahead of its Sundance premiere, so hopefully that’s no indication of quality and another distributor steps up to the plate.

9. Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt)

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What’s better than one Cate Blanchett? Thirteen, of course.  After giving a career-best performance in Todd Haynes’ Carol, the actress is coming to Sundance with what’s sure to be the biggest display of her acting range yet. Manifesto, which debuted as a multi-screen art exhibition back in 2015, has been turned into feature film form by Julian Rosefeldt and features Blanchett taking on the different roles. With wide-ranging characters from a homeless person to a punk, we’ll be mighty curious how this transition from art gallery to silver screen goes, so return for our review from Park City.

8. The Discovery (Charlie McDowell)

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One of the primary pleasures of Charlie McDowell‘s directorial debut The One I Love was his ability to realistically inject a dose of science-fiction into a relatable romantic drama. The director, along with writer Justin Lader, have now re-teamed for a follow-up in the same vein. The Discovery, which stars Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, and Riley Keough is a love story set one year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified. That hook is all I need to make sure it’s on our must-see list at Sundance. For everyone else, Netflix has the rights and will release it later this year.

7. Mudbound (Dee Rees)

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Since she impressed at Sundance Film Festival back in 2011 with the coming-of-age drama Pariah, we’ve been waiting for the next proper feature  from Dee Rees, who recently teamed with HBO for Bessie. It will arrive at this year’s festival with Mudbound, which finds Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Jason Mitchell, and Garrett Hedlund in the post-WWII south in the story of two battling families. With Rees working on a bigger scale here, it has the makings of one of the most impressive films of the festival.

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