Dano and Zoe Kazan in "Ruby Sparks."
Dano and Zoe Kazan in "Ruby Sparks."

3. "Ruby Sparks"
Despite the huge Oscar-nominated success of Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris' debut feature "Little Miss Sunshine," they had difficulty mounting a follow-up. Several projects, from an adaptation of Tom Perrotta's "The Abstinence Teacher" to Demetri Martin's "Will," fell apart along the way. But they're finally back, with a script from indie darling Zoe Kazan ("Meek's Cutoff"), who stars alongside her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano, Annette Bening and more, and the film's rapidly becoming a favorite of Playlisters who've caught screenings so far. Involving a writer (Dano) who accidentally creates the woman of his dreams (Kazan) by writing about her, the film marries its high concept with a grounded realism, providing an incisive look at relationships and love, with some fine performances, a top class screenplay and gorgeous visuals (from Darren Aronofsky's regular DoP Matthew Libatique). Our Katie fell head over heels for it at the LAFF (read her review here), and at least one other team member feels the same. Sleeeper hit? Let's hope so.
When? July 25th

"The Imposter"
Indomina Releasing "The Imposter"
4. "The Imposter"
There are certain stories that almost have to be told as documentaries, because if you tried to fictionalize them, even a little, no one would believe it. Hit Sundance documentary "The Imposter" is one of those cases. The film, directed by newcomer Bart Layton, follows the case of the Barclays, a San Antonio family whose youngest, Nicholas, disappeared without a trace. Three years later, a man claiming to be Nicholas reappeared in Spain, and despite having different colored eyes, and a French accent, he lived with the Barclays for several months. But as his story starts to unravel, a potentially even more unlikely twist starts to emerge. Compared by many to "Man On Wire" in its blend of interviews and reconstructions, it's as much a gripping thriller as a documentary, and should prove to be one of the non-fiction highlights of the year. Read our original Sundance review here.
When? July 13th

"Shut Up and Play the Hits"
"Shut Up and Play the Hits"
5. "Shut Up And Play The Hits"
Some might call James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem the band that defined the '00s, or at least certain aspects of it, and their premature disbandment in early 2011 certainly helps that narrative. Whether or not you buy into it, anyone who loved the band should flock to "Shut Up And Play The Hits," both a document of that final gig at Madison Square Garden, and a portrait of Murphy, one of the smartest and wittiest men in contemporary music. The footage of the concert is visceral and stunning, and while some of the aftermath feels a little manufactured, it's a real insight not just into Murphy, but also the creative process in general, which means that we can recommend it not just for fans, but for pretty much anyone. You can read our review from Sundance here, and note, like many concert movies these days, it's getting a special one-night-only release; tickets are available from Oscilloscope here.
When? July 18th

Killer Joe Matthew McConaughey
6. "Killer Joe"
Already facing something of an uphill battle, "Killer Joe," the latest film from "The Exorcist" helmer William Friedkin, is going to have a particularly tough time after landing the dreaded NC-17 rating from the MPAA. But we hope that it does manage to connect with an audience, because if it's not Friedkin's best film in decades (that honor probably passes to his other Tracy Letts adaptation, "Bug") it's certainly his most entertaining, a darkly funny, taut-as-a-drum piece of work. Among the greatest pleasures, other than Letts' terrific dialogue, is the cast: a star-confirming turn from Juno Temple, lovely support from Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon, and a further confirmation of the renaissance of Matthew McConaughey, in the darkest, most monstrous role he's ever played, and one that he knocks clear out of the park. It does sometimes struggle to escape its stage origins, but for the most part this is great material in the hands of a master. Read our original Venice review here.
When? July 27th