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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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Wish You Were Here

"Wish You Were Here"
Synopsis: Expectant couple Alice and Dave travel to Cambodia on holiday with Alice's sister Steph and her boyfriend Jeremy, but Jeremy tragically disappears, leading to the revelation of shattering secrets.
What You Need To Know:  Australian filmmaking collective Blue Tongue Films has turned a lot of heads in the last few years, thanks principally to excellent gangster tale "Animal Kingdom," and they're only likely to gain more attention now that member Joel Edgerton is on the rise. Before his role in "The Great Gatsby," he'll start off 2012 with the latest Blue Tongue production, helmed by Kieran Darcy-Smith, who had a supporting role in 'Kingdom.' With fellow rising star Teresa Palmer and the film's co-writer Felicity Price in support, the film looks extremely promising from the early trailer, and given the company's track record to date, this has to be one of the most anticipated films of the festival.
When? Sundance - 19th, 20th, 25th, 27th (Park City), 20th (SLC), 21st (Ogden)


"The Words"
Synopsis: A struggling writer passes off a lost manuscript as his own, only to find the decision coming back to haunt him.
What You Need To Know: Given that he became something of a superstar after "Limitless" and "The Hangover Part II" in 2011, kudos to Bradley Cooper for making his next film an indie, albeit one with more A-list talent than most. Written and directed by actor Brian Klugman and "Tron: Legacy" story-writer Lee Sternthal, this looks to be an unusually adult, literate kind of morality play, the kind of film that doesn't get made much anymore. And there's more than enough star wattage to sell it to audiences. Cooper is joined by Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Ben Barnes, Ron Rifkin, J.K. Simmons, John Hannah, Zeljko Ivanek and Michael McKean, which probably helps to explain its closing-night status. Klugman and Sternthal are pretty much unknown quantities, but their script has to be pretty strong to attract this many big names, right?
When? Sundance - 22nd & 23rd (Park City), 27th (Ogden), 28th (SLC).

Jack Plotnick as Dolph Springer in "Wrong."
Sundance Film Festival Jack Plotnick as Dolph Springer in "Wrong."

Synopsis: Dolph Springer wakes up to discover that the only thing he loves in life, his dog, has disappeared. He sets out onto the L.A. streets to find him, encountering a variety of weird and wonderful characters along the way.
What You Need To Know: French filmmaker Quentin Dupiex, aka electro artist Mr. Oizo, had a bit of a midnight movie success with psychic-killer-tire-that-makes-heads-explode movie "Rubber" last year. While his follow-up might sound a little more down-to-earth, everything we've seen so far suggests otherwise, right down to the lead character's name -- Dolph Springer (as played by TV actor Jack Plotnick). There's a few more recognizable faces in the mix, including Alexis Dziena and, most excitingly, a heavily-scarred, ponytailed William Fichtner, who's sure to steal the show. The Sundance catalogue promises another playful, rule-breaking piece of cinema, and, if nothing else, we're assured another banging soundtrack courtesy of Dupieux's alter ego, this time collaborating with French fuzzpop band Tahiti Boy and the Palmtree Family
When? Sundance - 21st, 24th, 26th and 27th (Park City,) 22nd (SLC.)

Honorable Mentions: Things that we didn't have quite the space for include "The Motel Life," which stars Dakota Fanning and Emile Hirsch, from the Polsky Brothers; "Yellow," which marks the return of Nick Cassavettes, with a cast led by Sienna Miller; "The Wait," with Chloe Sevigny and Jena Malone, about two sisters guarding their mother's body in case she comes back to life; and "The English Teacher," with Julianne Moore.

Also on the way from the U.S: the Jeff Buckley-themed drama "Greetings From Tim Buckley," starring Imogen Poots and Penn Badgley; porn biopic "Lovelace," with Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard; ensemble drama "Disconnect," with Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, and Paula PattonBilly Bob Thornton's return to direction with "Jayne Mansfield's Car" and "Ma George," from "Restless City" director Andrew Dosunmu.

And from across the pond, other entries include Felicity Jones in "Cheerful Weather For The Wedding"; Ken Loach's "The Angel's Share"; Irish drama "What Richard Did," from the acclaimed director of "Garage," Lenny Abrahamson; and horror combo "Cockneys Vs. Zombies" and "Tower Block," both from "Severance" writer James Moran.

- Oliver Lyttelton, Christopher Bell

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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