The globe’s frostiest film festival is well underway, and as ever, is producing a parade of independent titles which look absolutely fantastic. To celebrate the 2017 Sundance Film Festival – which runs from 19th to 29th January in Park City, Utah – we tasked the Filmoria crew with selecting the picture they are most anticipating from the line-up.
Could they be a break-out title, or will they just quietly stroll into our select screens? At this stage we do not know, but one thing’s for sure, the entirety of this bunch looks wholly excellent. To view the full Sundance programme, click here.
Wilson – Chosen by Scott Allden
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer
One of my favourite times of the cinematic calendar, the Sundance Film Festival, is always looks to champion the efforts of independent and smaller scale filmmaking. My one to watch this year is Craig Johnson’s Wilson – a feature that’s certainly more high-profile than many others in its category. And with the exquisite caliber of independent cinema breaking through to the mainstream, the field is more open than ever before. Though I am hopeful this film can be one of the highlights of the festival.
Based on Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of the same name, the trailer for the film shows signs of a wonderfully bittersweet comedy drama. Spearheaded by Woody Harrelson as the titular neurotic and life-challenged character. Which follows him 17 years after the breakdown of his marriage, finding new lease in life after learning he has daughter that was given up for adoption, unbeknownst to him. Wilson co-stars alongside the likes of Laura Dern, Judy Greer and Cheryl Hines.
Unfortunately I am yet to read the source material – however I am a massive fan of Ghost World, another work of Clowes that was adapted to film back in 2001. Incidentally it is also one of my favourite adaptations of all time. Extremely relevant and relatable as it demonstrates a more alternative look into modern teenage lives. Wilson’s subject matter and approach looks to be within the similar vein – approaching aspects of life in a more unconventional manner.
With The Skeleton Twins director Johnson at the helm, and Woody Harrelson’s consistent displays of a wider range, I’m hopeful that Wilson could give us another knock out comedic gem with heart and hapless charm. It’s set for a US release on March 24th. Mark this one, folks.
Call Me By Your Name – Chosen by Darryl Griffiths
Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg
The simmering brilliance of A Bigger Splash, unleashing the inner ‘Rolling Stone’ in Lord Voldemort himself Ralph Fiennes, and recently being granted the inevitable task of delivering a respectable remake of Dario Argento’s horror classic Suspiria, there is much respect and anticipation surrounding the cinema of Luca Guadagnino.
At Sundance this year, he tackling the debut novel by Andre Aciman released back in 2007, , which is already receiving widespread acclaim and considered to be a beautiful addition to the queer cinema canon. Set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Italian Riviera in the 1980s, centred around the blossoming romance between Timothée Chalamet’s Elio, a seventeen year old Italian still looking to come to terms with sexuality, and Armie Hammer’s slightly older American academic Oliver, whom is tasked with assisting Elio’s professor father (Michael Staulberg) in the Summer months.
Starring in such stellar works such as Tom Ford’s exquisite Nocturnal Animals in recent months but perhaps not garnering the praise of his fellow actors. This is already shaping up to be a career-best turn from Hammer, whilst proving a star-making role for Chalamet, himself gracing worthy projects already like Christopher Nolan sci-fi Interstellar. Throw in a soundtrack crafted by Sufjan Stevens, renowned for putting a powerfully poetic stamp on his musical efforts, Call Me By Your Name is likely to leave a lasting impression on audiences this year with its tender and transcendent love story. I for one cannot wait.
Lady Macbeth – Chosen by James Thompson
Starring: Florence Pugh, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank
Dark, deceptive and almost gothic-like in its appearance, William Oldroyd’s upcoming Lady Macbeth is one those properties I wouldn’t normally cast an eye towards, especially as my taste in period dramas is rather limited it must be said.
But upon viewing the teaser trailer for this moody and tantalising movie, I realised that it had me instantly engaged and wanting to find out so much more as to where this film would head. Of course, that’s the sign of good marketing, but having delved into the early reviews of the film and breathing in its overall scope, it is certainly a film from Sundance that I cannot wait to watch.
Florence Pugh looks like she could well be the next breakout star and the whole feel and look to Lady Macbeth looks drenched with Victorian flavour and oozing a sense of dread and the unknown. I’m expecting the idyllic countryside location to soon turn into a hellish nightmare that we cannot keep our eyes away from…
Thoroughbred – Chosen by Chris Haydon
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin
Sundance is the definitive home for intriguing debut features, and few titles on the packed roster sound quite as luxuriously macabre and complex as Thoroughbred – writer-director Cory Finley’s first cinematic foray – which sordidly profiles crime, sisterhood, philosophy, and psycho-sexuality.
The film, which stars Anya Taylor-Joy (breakout actress of The Witch, who is my personal hot ticket right now), alongside Me and Earl and the Dying Girl‘s Olivia Cooke, details two wealthy teenage girls in suburban Connecticut who rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. In the process, they learn that neither is what she seems to be, and that a murder might solve both of their problems. Using the power of manipulation, they scheme the late, great Anton Yelchin – in his final role – to commit the hideous act on their behalf.
Already picking up glowing reviews from journalists braving the Utah cold, Thoroughbred is described as offering acidic dialogue, heavy with blackened laughs and juxtaposed sociopolitical undertones, as well as angular framing, and outstanding performances from its central young women. Initially designed as a play, the narrative beats sound piercingly dramatic and interpretive, which in turn should provide a slice of American independent cinema which is equally challenging and captivating. The film sounds as arctic and uncompromising as the landscape in which this festival takes place, and for me, that is ludicrously exciting.