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Our Most-Anticipated Films at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Written by on January 15, 2018 

sundance-film-festival-2018

Comprising a considerable amount of our top 50 films of last year, Sundance Film Festival has proven to yield the first genuine look at what the year in cinema will bring. Now in its 40th iteration, we’ll be heading back to Park City this week, but before we do, it’s time to highlight the films we’re most looking forward to, including documentaries and narrative features from all around the world.

While much of the joy found in the festival comes from surprises throughout the event, below one will find our 16 most-anticipated titles. Check out everything below and for updates straight from the festival, make sure to follow us on Twitter (@TheFilmStage, @jpraup, @djmecca and @DanSchindel), and stay tuned to all of our coverage here. One can also see a trailer round-up of Sundance 2018 premieres here.

16. Puzzle (Marc Turtletaub)

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Catching our eye due to the peculiarity of the logline, Puzzle follows the immensely talented Kelly Macdonald as a housewife who discovers a newfound passion with… puzzle competitions. While this normally could be the kind of set-up of a twee, insufferable journey of self-discovery, one hopes that with a script by Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart) there’s some depth and ingenuity to be mined here. Directed by longtime indie producer Marc Turtletaub (Loving, Little Miss Sunshine), it will have its world premiere a bit later in the festival on Tuesday, so check back for our review.

15. Monsters and Men (Reinaldo Marcus Green)

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One of the early premieres at Sundance Film Festival could be a timely break-out. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, who developed the project at the Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Lab, Monsters and Men follows a Bed-Stuy man who captures a white police officer commit a wrongful murder in his neighborhood, and how he wrestles with bringing the footage to life as it may cause harm to his family. After bringing his short Stop to Sundance a few years back, could this be a Fruitvale Station-esque breakout for Green?

14. Lizzie (Craig Macneill)

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Following the true story of a woman who committed ax-wielding murders in Massachusetts in the late 1800s, Lizzie has got quite the hook. With Chloë Sevigny taking the lead role and Kristen Stewart playing her live-in maid, this has the makings of a daring look an little-known black mark in history. After a career-best performance in Personal Shopper, one hopes that Stewart continues her streak in this dark drama.

13. NANCY (Christina Choe)

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One of the most intriguing films in the Sundance line-up is NANCY, which marks the directorial debut of Christina Choe, who has earned acclaim with a number of short films. For her first feature, she’s recruited the talents of James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson in the story of a mid-30s woman who spins a web of falsehoods under an Internet persona and things spiral out of control when fact and fiction blur. Led by Andrea Riseborough, it promises to be a role of demanding complexity for the talented actress.

12. A Futile and Stupid Gesture (David Wain)

Futile and Stupid Gesture - Still 1

After delivering one of the funniest, most tear-inducing parodies of all-time with They Came Together, David Wain gave us two Wet Hot American Summer TV seasons, and now he’s finally back to feature films with a look at the early days of National Lampoon with A Futile and Stupid Gesture, which premieres at Sundance and hits Netflix soon after. Led by Will Forte and also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Thomas Lennon, Joel McHale, Matt Walsh, Paul Scheer, and many more, if this is a 1/10th as funny as his last film, it’ll be the best comedy of the year. You can say that again.

11. Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham)

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If this past fall has been any indication with Lady Bird, a Scott Rudin-produced directorial debut is something to look out for, particularly when it comes from a previously-established unique voice. With this whip-smart, carefully-articulated brand of comedy, Bo Burnham has amassed an impressive following in the past years and with Eighth Grade he makes his first step behind the camera in feature form. Telling the story of middle school anxieties through the 13-year-old Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher, poised for a breakout), if Burnham can effectively translate his incisive humor to the big screen, this could be one of the highlights of the festival.

10. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant)

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Is there a once-celebrated director in Hollywood that’s in need of some acclaim more than Gus Van Sant? After the forgotten Restless, the perfectly fine, but forgettable Promised Land, and infamously derided The Sea of Trees, it’s been a rough decade for the helmer. This Sundance, he’ll hopefully bring a return to form with Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot. Starring Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, as well as Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill, and Jack Black, the biopic follows the life of John Callahan, a quadriplegic cartoonist. With this exquisite cast, hopefully Gus Van Sant gets his mojo back.

9. Arizona (Jonathan Watson)

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While we hoped Jody Hill’s newest feature might finally make its debut at Sundance this year, another Danny McBride-led feature should suffice–and, even more intriguing, it’s in the Midnight section. Arizona marks the directorial debut of Vice Principals producer Jonathan Watson and follows McBride’s character during the late aughts housing crisis as he fights back in violent ways against losing his house. His victim is a single mom played by Rosemarie DeWitt, who is having financial problems of her own. Hopefully taking less of a sadistic route and more of a impressively-scripted dark comedy, the film also features small turns by Seth Rogen and Kaitlin Olson.

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