Sundance is only like a month away, and it’s always a fun way to kick off the new year by sifting through the lineup and screening schedules for some of the best films of the upcoming year. Films that have ended up in my top 5 over the past few years that have played at Sundance include Green Room, Blue Ruin, It Follows, Swiss Army Man, The Witch, Slow West, and so many more. Yeah, there’s always a few films you end up seeing that make you question what this film is doing in this festival to begin with, but you always end up catching a few that stick with you throughout the year. Here are some films I’m pumped to see this festival.
I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore
My favorite film of 2014 was Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin, and my favorite film of this past year is Saulnier’s Green Room. Macon Blair starred in the former with an incredible debut performance, and delivered more quality work in the latter in a supporting role. Now, he’s is stepping behind the camera for his directorial debut, and it sounds right up my alley. The logline goes “When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals.” Sounds like Blair is taking the time he’s spent with Saulnier and producing a similar work of violent cinema colliding with human characters who aren’t prepared for it. So, if only for this material’s likeness and ties to Saulnier, I’m so excited for it.
Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love is one of the best, out-of-nowhere surprises in recent years. If you know nothing about it, keep it that way. You want to be taken by surprise by his wonderfully inventive and emotional film. So, he’s back with another entry to probably blow us away, about two people who find love in a world where the afterlife has been scientifically verified. McDowell is one more great film away from proving he’s among the best in his group, and I expect big things from The Discovery.
You love Taylor Sheridan, except you don’t know who he is. Most of his career he’s been a 3rd-tier quality character actor, but he’s really excelled these past few years at his newfound career in scriptwriting, penning the screenplays for last year’s Sicario and this year’s Hell or High Water. I like violent films about violence, and I like it even more when they fall in the New Americana subgenre. Sheridan has shown to be really great at combining those, and I’m really excited to see how he involves into a full-fledged filmmaker. With a cast that includes Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, it just sweetens the deal.
Alex Ross Perry has quickly become an intriguing independent talent capable of doing films on opposite sides of the aesthetic spectrum. Listen Up Philip is largely a comedy, filmed fast and loose, while Queen of Earth was only a violent act away from being a horror film, with how tense and slow-burning it was. It’s unclear what sort of emotional resonance Ross Perry will be going for with Golden Exits, but I can’t wait to see what he does.
A Ghost Story
Lowery’s film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a reverie of Americana and westerns, a poetic eulogy to the mythos of the outlaw. As of this writing, I still haven’t seen Lowery’s followup, Pete’s Dragon, but I’m sure I’ll dig it. He is, however, headed back to mystifying indie territory with A Ghost Story, which the logline simply states is about a ghost and the house he haunts, and he’s bringing along Ain’t Them Bodies Saints leads Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara for another round. I’m here for whatever Lowery does; he’s a singular, spiritual talent.