TOH! heads to Sundance today, ready for the many offerings the festival has in store. What makes the shortlist of ten most anticipated films?
10. “The Better Angels." Terrence Malick collaborator A.J. Edwards makes his feature debut with this black-and-white period piece, set in 1817 Indiana, looking at three years in the life of young Abraham Lincoln’s childhood. Malick’s visually poetic influence is evident from the film’s released clip (watch below). Jason Clarke, Kate Bosworth, Brit Marling and Wes Bentley star. (Section: New Frontier.)
9. “Happy Christmas." Joe Swanberg knocked it out of the park with 2013’s “Drinking Buddies,” and the prolific director’s follow-up film (or rather, one of his many) is a pared-down Christmas tale shot on 16mm. Swanberg reunites with Anna Kendrick (delightful in “Drinking Buddies”), and brings Lena Dunham and the underused but always ace Melanie Lynskey into the fold. (Section: US Dramatic Competition.)
8. “Appropriate Behavior." Writer-director-star Desiree Akhavan follows up her comedic web series “The Slope” with this portrait of an Iranian-American young woman living in Brooklyn, trying to deal with the ex-girlfriend who broke her heart (Rebecca Henderson), and coming out as bisexual to her traditional parents. Programming director Trevor Groth has likened Akhavan to last year’s triple threat Lake Bell. (Section: NEXT.)
7. “War Story." The world needs more Catherine Keener. That is a given. So I'm excited to see her get some front-and-center attention in this story of an American photographer adrift in Italy, snapping pics of refugees while confronting her own melancholy. Ben Kingsley also stars. Director Mark Jackson was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” (Section: NEXT.)
6. “Dinosaur 13." A documentary about the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever discovered would already be interesting enough, but filmmaker Todd Miller digs into the power clash surrounding the 1990 paleontological find. The FBI, the National Guard, prestigious museums and Native American tribes are just a few of the players competing for ownership against the paleontologists who originally discovered the bones. (Section: US Documentary Competition.)