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Our 25 Most-Anticipated Films of Sundance Film Festival 2015

Written by on January 19, 2015 

12. The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle)


Out of the many documentaries premiering at Sundance Film Festival, the one that has most caught our attention follows a group of brothers who are locked away from society from their father. Living in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, they get their knowledge through films (which they re-enact), but when one brother escapes, their view of the world starts to shifts. Based on the subjects alone, The Wolfpack promises to be one of the most intimate, revealing stories at this year’s festival.  – Jordan R.

11. Sleeping With Other People (Leslye Headland)

Sleeping with Other People

With her debut BacheloretteLeslye Headland tackled dark issues not only with reverence, but a comedic touch. Hopefully the same is in store for her next feature, Sleeping With Other People. Starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as characters who lost their virginity to each other in college, we then follow them a few years later as they meet at a sex addicts meeting and attempt to launch a friendship. Promising to be something more substantial than Friends with Benefits and the ilk, the film also starring Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Jason Mantzoukas, and Natasha Lyonne. – Jordan R.

10. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)


It may be part of the shorts line-up, but we’re anticipating the latest work from animator Don Hertzfeldt more than most features in the Sundance line-up. Running 17 minutes and following “a little girl who is taken on a mind-bending tour of the distant future,” not much is known about World of Tomorrow, but if it lives up to past work from the animator, it’s bound to be one of the best of the festival. – Jordan R.

9. Last Days in the Desert (Rodrigo Garcia)


There’s one major reason we’re looking forward to this drama: Emmanuel Lubezki. After capturing virtually all of time with The Tree of Life, going to space in Gravity, and recently getting into a fractured psyche with Birdman, his next cinematography gig will take him to the desert. Rodrigo Garcia‘s feature follows Ewan McGregor as Jesus (and the Devil) during his fasting in the desolate landscape. Perhaps the boldest of concepts amongst the Sundance line-up, we can’t wait to see Lubezki’s approach to the potentially controversial material – Jordan R.

8. Mississippi Grind (Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden)

Mississippi Grind

After crafting two of the finest independent dramas of the last decade with Half Nelson and Sugar, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck‘s last feature It’s Kind of a Funny Story left much to be desired, but they are now back five years later with what’s hopefully a return to form. The drama follows Ben Mendelsohn as poker player whose gambling habit is getting out of control, but links up with Ryan Reynolds‘ character to head down South for a high-stakes game. Out of the many reasons to look forward to this one, seeing Mendelsohn in a leading role is near the top. – Jordan R.

7. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)


As is usually the welcome case with films by Guy Maddin, we’re not quite sure what to expect from his latest, The Forbidden Room, which premieres shortly at Sundance and stars Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Rampling, and Udo Kier. As described by the festival, “One might never guess what’s in store from Canadian auteur’s Guy Maddin’s ode to the lost movies of the silent era, honoring classic cinema while electrocuting it with energy. Bursting with playful cacophony, Maddin’s opus takes us high into the air, under the sea, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia, captivity, deception, and murder.” – Jordan R.

6. Slow West (John Maclean)


With at least five (maybe six, if Terrence Malick gets his act together) films arriving for Michael Fassbender this year, the first out of the gate will be at Sundance this year with Slow West. From up-and-coming director John Maclean, the nineteenth century-set drama follows a “16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Fassbender), a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way.” With a cast also including Ben Mendelsohn, here’s hoping Fassbender kicks off 2015 in a major way. – Jordan R.

5. Entertainment (Rick Alverson)


After dividing audiences with the rather brilliant The Comedy, director Rick Alverson is returning with a feature led by On Cinema’s other host, Gregg Turkington. The drama follows an aging comedian who “tours the California desert, lost in a cycle of third-rate venues, novelty tourist attractions, and vain attempts to reach his estranged daughter.” Also starring Tye Sheridan, John C. Reilly, Michael Cera, and Amy Seimetz, we can’t wait to see the results — and the reaction. – Jordan R.

4. Results (Andrew Bujalski)


Despite how one may feel about the term, Andrew Bujalski was indeed one of the talents to bring “mumblecore” to the forefront. Following the lo-fi Computer Chess, our curiosity abounds when it comes to his next project, hopefully melding that approach with his highest-profile ensemble yet, featuring Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker, Constance Zimmer, and Kevin Corrigan. Following a pair of mismatched personal trainers’ lives that are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client, it’s one of our most-anticipated of the festival. – Jordan R.

3. Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)


Immediately after the completion of Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig jumped right into shooting another film together called Mistress America. Like Frances Ha, the film’s creation and subject were kept a secret, so much so that Baumbach shot another film, While We’re Young, which is set for release at the beginning of this year. Mistress America resurfaced when it appeared on the Sundance Film Festival 2015 list and was quickly bought by Fox Searchlight for distribution. The film follows Greta Gerwig again and sounds very similar to Frances Ha — hardly a bad thing — and is about “dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing.” The team-up between Gerwig and Baumbach was electric before and I’m hopeful they will do it again. – Dan G.

2. Z for Zachariah (Craig Zobel)


Z for Zachariah marks Craig Zobel‘s newest feature film, following Compliance, an almost unbearably intense film that milked a single fast food location for maximum horror. The director gets great performances, and we should expect a similar result with his next directorial effort, considering this Robert C. O’Brien adaptation stars Chris Pine, Margot Robbie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in this post-apocalyptic love triangle. – Jack G.

1. James White (Josh Mond)


After working together to create some of the most gripping character studies of the last few years with Afterschool, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Simon Killer, the Borderline Film guys return at this year’s Sundance with James White. Led by Christopher Abbott, the wildly promising drama follows a young New Yorker who struggles to take control of his reckless, self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges. – Jordan R.

The best Sundance 2015 films we’ve already seen >>

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