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

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
January 10, 2012 12:20 PM
15 Comments
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"Bachelorette"
Synopsis: Three friends discover that the girl they tormented as 'Pig-Face' in high school is getting married before them, and that they've been asked to be bridesmaids.
What You Need To Know: "Bachelorette" has more than a few advantages that should put it ahead of the pack of anyone trying to capitalize off the success of "Bridesmaids" and 2011's R-rated female-centric comedies. Firstly, it's soon enough after that it shouldn't be tainted as a copycat, while still being able to ride the wave. Secondly, with a Sundance premiere, and a catalog listing promising "coke and booze," it should have a slightly harder edge to it. Thirdly, the behind-the-scenes talent is just as impressive: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are producing, and Leslye Headland, who was a writer on the brilliant, much-missed "Terriers," makes her feature writing and directing debut. And finally, and most importantly, it has a cast with just as much comic pedigree as Paul Feig and Kristin Wiig's film: career revived post-"Melancholia" Kirsten Dunst, leads Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden, Adam Scott and Kyle Bornheimer. Worst case scenario, it's the next "Our Idiot Brother," best case scenario, it'll be one of the comedies of the year.
When? Sundance -- 23rd, 24th, 28th, (Park City), 26th (Ogden)

"Berberian Sound Studio"

"Berberian Sound Studio"
Synopsis: A shy British sound mixer travels to a low-rent post-production house in Italy to work on a giallo horror film, and finds himself gradually losing his mind.
What You Need To Know: He's virtually omnipresent these days, with six major films in 2011, and four in 2012 (plus two TV appearances), but Toby Jones hasn't actually starred in a film since his breakout turn as Truman Capote in "Infamous." But he couldn't have asked for a better return to lead roles than "Berberian Sound Studio." Helmed by British director Peter Strickland, who made quite a critical splash with his Silver Bear-winning Hungarian-language debut "Katalin Varga" back in 2009, this promises to be a a horror-thriller in the vein of "The Conversation" or "Blow Out," reliant heavily on sound design -- something that can only be a good thing for anyone who heard the exceptional mix on 'Katalin.' There's some impressive behind-the-scenes talent too; the ever-reliable Warp is backing the film, with 'Uncle Boonmee' producer Keith Griffiths and Oscar-winning editor Chris Dickens ("Hot Fuzz," "Slumdog Millionaire") also on board.
When? Filming got underway last March, so we should see this on the festival circuit later in the year.

"Black Rock"
Synopsis: Three old friends head away together for a weekend trip to  a remote island in Maine, but soon discover that someone else is with them, someone who means them harm.
What You Need To Know: After a moderately well-received debut with "The Freebie" two years ago, "The League" star Katie Aselton heads back behind the camera for a very different film, one that melds indie-type character dynamics with a lean genre thriller -- or at least, that's the hope. It doesn't sound a world away from "Baghead," so it's not surprising that one of the film's leads, and Aselton's husband, Mark Duplass, penned the script. But make no mistake, it's Aselton who's front and center here, directing and taking one of the three lead roles, alongside Kate Bosworth and professional scene-stealer Lake Bell. Will she be able to bring the genre goods for this? A slot in the Midnight section of Sundance suggests so, and this could turn out to be something of a crossover hit.
When? Sundance - 21st, 24th, 25th & 26th (Park City), 22nd (SLC) & 28th (SLC)

"Bones Brigade: An Autobiography"
Synopsis: Skateboarder-turned-documentarian Stacy Peralta examines the lives of his old crew, the Bones Brigade, who helped revive the sport in the 1980s.   
What You Need To Know: After examining the Bloods and the Crips in his last film, "Made in America," Peralta returns to the board-riding antics that he made his name with on "Dogtown & Z-Boys" and "Riding Giants." Essentially a sequel to 'Dogtown,' Peralta's fourth film picks up the events after that, in the early 1980s, when he brought together a group of unlikely outsiders to form the titular Bones Brigade, which revitalized skateboarding. The director's zippy style was a breath of fresh documentary air eleven years ago, but his follow-ups have been disappointing; let's hope a return to the world he knows best sees him get his mojo back.  When? Sundance - 21st, 22nd & 27th (Park City), 24th (SLC), 26th (Sundance Resort) 28th (Ogden)

"Celeste And Jesse Forever"

"Celeste and Jesse Forever"
Synopsis: A formerly married couple try to discover if it's possible to stay friends after divorce.  
What You Need To Know: This year's winner of the Sundance Brit Marling, At-The-Front-Of-The-Queue-When-God-Was-Giving-Out-The-Talent Award looks like it's going to Rashida Jones. Not content with being the beautiful and comically gifted star of "Parks and Recreation," among other things, the actress has now written a starring vehicle for herself, appearing opposite 'SNL' star Andy Samberg. It's clearly heading for that "(500) Days of Summer" indie/studio crossover vibe, but the presence of Lee Toland Krieger, the youthful director of the woefully underseen "The Vicious Kind," and the decent script (co-written by Will McCormack) gives us hope that it'll be more substantial than that film. An eclectic supporting cast, including Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood, Ari Graynor and Chris Messina, also promises something a little different, but we're perhaps most interested in seeing if Samberg can play (relatively) straight.   
When? Sundance - 22nd & 23rd (Park City), 27th (Ogden), 28th (SLC).

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15 Comments

  • 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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