We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Robert Redford called me personally to invite me to Sundance this year, and I had to say no. "Sorry, Bob," I said to him, turning down his invitation to attend the new year's biggest film festival, and the promotional birthing grounds for films that range from Sex, Lies, and Videotape to Martha Marcy May Marlene. "I need to stay in Chicago and water my plant."
Thus, the only coverage I can offer of Sundance this year is that of speculation, but also of extreme curiosity. I hardly know anything about these films, outside of who is in them, and who directs them. Yet, regardless of how these films are received, they stand as some of my most anticipated projects of the future, whether they get distribution for 2013, or even 2014.
With apologies for letting down Bob R., here are the TOP 7 Films I Would Be Most Excited To See At Sundance 2013 (If I Was Actually Going to Sundance)
7. Breathe In
Recap: The newest film from Drake Doremus, who previously directed Like Crazy, starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. This film reunites Doremus with Jones, and includes the addition of Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan. Reason: Director Doremus showed what he can express about the power of a relationship with Like Crazy, which garnered emotional performances from his young leads working on a very intimate canvas. With that film, he found bits of truth to the chaos of a loving relationship. Thus, I'm very curious to see where the director/co-writer goes next, and if he uses this casting to try to build himself up - does working with Guy Pearce (recently of Prometheus, Lockout, and Lawless) mean that Doremus is moving onto bigger films?
6. The Spectacular Now
Recap: The new film from Smashed director James Ponsoldt, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Reason: With his film Smashed opening last fall with a commendable performance from Winstead, it is certainly curious to see where the acting/directing duo will go next, especially with the presence of Woodley, who hasn't been seen on the silver screen since her award winning turn in The Descendants. On top of this, Ponsoldt is overall a director to watch — perhaps this movie, with such an appealing cast, could be the breakout some thought Smashed would be.
5. Prince Avalanche
Recap: The newest film from director David Gordon Green, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. Reason: With his last two features, Your Highness and The Sitter, it seemed like director Green was still on a goofy comedy high from his success of Pineapple Express. Those previous two comedies came in almost the same year, and with the same confusion for fans more familiar with Green as a director of films like Snow Angels or All the Real Girls. Though I could be wrong, this newest film does seem like a divergence from his previous films; the fact that he is taking it to Sundance as an independent movie is a promising sign of integrity that felt MIA with The Sitter. Perhaps Prince Avalanche could even be a good marriage of his sense of humor, with his recently underwhelmed ability to tell a meaningful story.
4. Magic Magic and Crystal Fairy
Recap: The newest films from Sebastian Silva, who previously directed festival favorite The Maid. Magic Maid stars Michael Cera, Juno Temple, and Emily Browning; Crystal Fairy stars Cera, Agustin Silva, and Gaby Hoffman. Reason: While we may not have forgotten about him, we haven't seen Michael Cera on the big screen since 2010 with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a role he was perfect for, and one that didn't lead to more film projects. Since then, Cera has been making two films with director Silva - Magic Magic and Crystal Fairy. With 2013 bound to be a year of return for Cera (if not solely for his "Arrested Development" reprisal), perhaps part of the charge will be lead with these two films, for which Cera (supposedly) learned some Spanish for. And why make two films so close together, with the same lead and appeal?
3. Stoker (Due to release February 28)
Recap: The newest horror movie from director Chan-wook Park (Oldboy), starring Matthew Goode, Mia Wasikowska, and Nicole Kidman. Reason: After making a numerous amount of heavy action movies (like Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance and yes, Oldboy) it's about time that Park would come to the English language, and primarily to the UK/US (not sure where this film takes place). Here, he works this with a promising cast, especially Kidman, who can turn in a great performance under the right director. It will be most interesting to see how Park manages with a wider audience; if this next film will be able to expand his fanbase, or instead, simply cater to the one he already has.
2. Upstream Color
Recap: A film about a couple bound by an ageless organism. Written and directed by Shane Carruth, known for the cult sci-fi indie film Primer, and also a filmmaker who almost contributed a scene to Rian Johnson's Looper. Reason: Not much needs to be said about this one. Carruth offered a super heady homemade science fiction movie with 2004's Primer (check it out if you haven't seen it yet), and hasn't been in film since. What has he been cooking up since then? If this is the project that has brought him back to the indie spotlight, then it has got to be worth a look, weird title and all.
1. Don Jon's Addiction
Recap: The directorial debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, starring Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, and Julianne Moore. Reason: One of 2012's biggest stars was Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who in one year replaced Batman, drove the incredible Looper, got slapped by a president in Lincoln, and even joy-rode on a bicycle in Premium Rush. Now that everyone considers this former child star a household name, Gordon-Levitt is coming fast on the heels with a project he writes, directs, and stars in, alongside two actresses that should help him get distribution for a larger audience. Next to Channing Tatum, Gordon-Levitt is one of the most curious stars, and it seems like he is wasting no time in showing his audience the many things he can do. On top of this, it will be very interesting to see if and how Gordon-Levitt's previous directors influence his own vision. Will there be bits of Rian Johnson, Steven Spielberg, Jonathan Levine, Spike Lee, Marc Webb, or even Christopher Nolan in this story? We know Gordon-Levitt can act, and transform into various different characters. But can he write a script? And most of all, can he direct a story about being addicted to online porn?