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Sundance Picks & More: The Playlist's Most Anticipated Indie Films Of 2012

by Oliver Lyttelton
January 10, 2012 12:20 PM
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Indie Anticipated 2012

In a world where studio movies often get release dates before they have a script, it's relatively easy to know what films to look forward to in the coming year. The indie world is a little trickier; films can often fly under the radar until they arrive on the festival circuit, without the wall-to-wall coverage of the tentpoles (although we do our best). But we're about ten days away from the Sundance Film Festival kicking off, and the indie line-up for 2012 will start to crystallize a little more.

As such, as the final part of our 2012 preview features (after our Most Anticipated, the Popcorn movies and the Foreign-Language films), we've taken a look at some of the non-studio pictures that look promising in the next twelve months. About half are on the Sundance line-up (and we've given you the dates for their showings in Utah, just in case any of y'all are heading to Park City), with another half that should reach theaters or film festivals this year. And in a world where film financing is harder than ever to get a hold of, it's heartening to see so many promising smaller-scale projects on the way. Check the list out below.

2 Days In New York

"2 Days In New York"
Synopsis: Marion, the neurotic center of “2 Days in Paris,” returns with a new lover, and a child, and is now living in the Big Apple.
What You Need To Know: When details of Julie Delpy’s directorial debut, “2 Days In Paris” emerged, it seemed a little odd -- wasn’t Delpy simply recreating her best-known role from Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”? In fact, the finished film owed more to Woody Allen than to Linklater, and turned out to be a really enjoyable comedy, thanks to the tremendous performances by Delpy and Adam Goldberg. A sequel is finally bowing, picking up with Delpy’s character a few years later, with a new baby, and living back in NYC, and while Goldberg’s not returning, she's found a decent replacement to play her new beau in the form of Chris Rock. The actor has always been a tricky presence on screen, but he should fit into the kind of neurotic comedy from the first film quite nicely. And let’s not forget, “Before Sunset” is one of the few sequels that surpasses the original. Maybe Delpy can pull off the same trick here?
 When? Sundance -- Jan 23rd, 24th and 28th in Park City, 25th in Ogden and 28th in SLC.

Arbitrage, Marling, Gere

Synopsis: On the verge of his sixtieth birthday, hedge fund king Robert Miller tries to sell his company before his terrible fraud can be discovered.
What You Need To Know: In the era of Enron and Lehmann Brothers, can you make a fraudulent scumbag a sympathetic lead? That's the question that Nicholas Jarecki (the brother of documentarians Andrew and Eugene) hopes to answer with "Arbitrage," and he could't have asked for an actor with a better track record in morally ambivalent males than Richard Gere (who replaced Al Pacino in the part). Gere's involvement seems like a microcosm of the film in general; while Jarecki might have been courting the likes of Pacino, Eva Green and rapper Drake, he's ended up with a pretty terrific cast, with Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, William Friedkin (?!), Nate Parker and last year's Sundance darling Brit Marling supporting Gere, and if nothing else, the plot couldn't be more timely. Plus, Cliff Martinez ("Drive," "Contagion") is handling the score, so it should be a treat for the ears.  
When? Sundance - 21st, 22nd & 28th (Park City), 23rd (Ogden), 28th (SLC).

Arthur Newman Golf Pro

"Arthur Newman: Golf Pro"
Synopsis: A miserable suburban man fakes his own death. He then poses as the titular sportsman and, with an acquaintance, starts a new life of breaking into houses and pretending to be the owners.   
What You Need To Know: Now that Colin Firth: Charming Character Actor has become Colin Firth: Oscar-Winning Megastar, he's clearly taking advantage of his abilty to get passion projects greenlit, turning down the likes of "Stoker" and "Oldboy" to make dark little indies like the upcoming "The Railway Man" and this black comedy. Marking the directorial debut of commercial helmer Dante Ariola, and from the pen of Becky Johnston ("The Prince of Tides"), and despite sounding like an Adam Sandler-produced David Spade film, it's more an "American Beauty" type dramedy of ennui. While Ariola's something of an unknown quantity at this point, the premise is intriguing, and the pairing of Firth and Emily Blunt (who are backed up by Anne Heche and "The Killing" star Kristin Lehmann) is fairly irresistible.   
When? Toronto seems likely, short of anyone picking it up in the meantime.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • Arthur | January 30, 2012 7:08 AMReply

    Just a note: the wonderful Melanie Lynskey can be seen in a LEADING role in a wonderful indie film called "Helena From The Wedding." It's on Netflix.

  • JoJo | January 30, 2012 7:37 AM

    If by "wonderful," you actually mean "incredibly boring and filled with lackluster performances," then I completely agree with you.

  • Graham | January 25, 2012 1:20 PMReply

    i'm a bit late, but exciting list. although disappointing that gondry seems to be the only one interested in any significant non-white casting.

  • Uncle Titt | January 17, 2012 8:28 PMReply

    No. You're not the only group of people who loved LCD Soundsystem and thought of them as the seminal band of 00's. In fact, there was an entire arena of people chronicled in the documentary that are likely to agree with you.

  • Travis Hopson | January 15, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    I won't get to Sundance until Monday so I'm praying it's in time to see Liberal Arts. Fingers crossed!

  • Pierre | January 11, 2012 9:33 PMReply

    Wow that's a great list already sans all the World Cinema that should be oncoming. I don't think 2012 will disappoint.

  • Jake | January 11, 2012 1:42 PMReply

    if you're interested in TRUE indies coming this year check out "There Are No Goodbyes".

  • Albert | January 11, 2012 12:42 AMReply

    Yeah, just a word of caution everybody, try not to take a shit, throw it in to a bag, pour some barium liquid on it, light it on fire and throw it in to the nearest beard-and-glasses stricken trust-fund rented apartment brownstone, it might just explode in to the Sundance Film Festival.

  • FILM INDUSTRY INSIDER | January 10, 2012 7:13 PMReply

    Saw two cuts of Safety Not Guaranteed. Jake Johnson is a show stealer. But the film isn't that good. Guess if you're in the Sundance 'club' though you can get in!

  • Rod Blackhurst | January 10, 2012 7:12 PMReply

    Great list of films!

  • aaaa | January 10, 2012 3:08 PMReply

    hard to buy the "anticipated" part since this, plus the other list pieces, are pretty much trying to list every single movie with an announced release in 2012

  • Rachel | January 10, 2012 5:53 PM

    Are you knew here? They do this every year and it's great exposure for a lot of movies.

  • Edward Davis | January 10, 2012 2:09 PMReply

    Nice work Oli and Chris! This piece rules.

  • HombreGato | January 10, 2012 1:43 PMReply

    This will probably be the most useful list of anything I find this year. 2012 is stacked with films by iconic directors but on top of all of that you know the indies are gonna stealth their way to acclaim.

  • James | January 10, 2012 1:17 PMReply

    Colin Firth's "The Railway Man" isn't a dark little indie. We're talking mainstream tearjerker a la 'The King's Speech'.

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