"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)
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).
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 Patton; Billy 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