This year's Sundance Film Festival runs from January 24-February 3, in Park City, Utah, and is set to screen over 100 new films from all over the world. While last year's festival ushered in a lot of new talent, like Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade, this year's line-up is brimming with Hollywood's elite, such as Hilary Swank, Zac Efron, and Lupita Nyong'o (just to name a few). Films on this year's docket are set to include break-out roles, creative adaptations, and quirky storylines that will have serious film buffs salivating. Here are 10 movies debuting at Sundance that you won't want to miss.
10. Velvet Buzzsaw
After the Los Angeles art scene gets their hands on some newly discovered artwork by an unknown artist, collector-fueled greed is soon followed up by a supernatural entity's revenge. Sounds good, right? That's what Jake Gyllenhaal's new movie, Velvet Buzzsaw, is all about, and the hype surrounding this movie is huge. Velvet Buzzsaw also happens to be a reunion of the team who worked on Nightcrawler, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and director Dan Gilroy.
9. Blinded By The Light
Who doesn't enjoy a good coming-of-age film set in the 1980s? Blinded by the Light, a British drama directed by Gurinder Chadha, was inspired by the life of Sarfraz Manzoor, a Pakistani-born journalist and huge Bruce Springsteen fan who also happened to co-write the script. For all of you Americans out there, Sarfraz Manzoor is a British author, documentarian, cultural commentator, TV presenter, and a regular contributor to The Guardian.
Fun fact: Blinded by the Light has been described as a "joyous music companion piece" to Bend It Like Beckham, which was also directed by Chadha.
8. Memory: The Origins Of Alien
Have you ever wanted to know more about Ridley Scott's Alien? Now we can, thanks to the new documentary, Memory: Origins of Alien, directed by Alexandre O. Philippe. The film is said to contain "previously unseen materials from the archives of writer Dan O'Bannon and designer H. R. Giger," and includes their story notes, behind-the-scenes footage, drawings, and a glimpse into what inspired them (Greek and Egyptian mythologies and underground comics, for example). This is a movie that no die-hard Alien fan should miss.
7. Native Son
Native Son, an updated retelling of the 194o novel written by Richard Wright, just had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24 and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Although it's been reimagined for a modern audience, the story still revolves around the life of a young, African-American man from a poor neighborhood in Chicago. Like the novel, the film explores the hard-but-necessary themes of class, race, and guilt, often violently.
Fun Fact: Ashton Sanders, the breakout star of Moonlight, plays the lead role of Bigger Thomas.
6. Big Time Adolescence
Get ready, because comedian Pete Davidson is about to be known for something other than SNL (and being Ariana Grande's ex-fiance). Big Time Adolescence is a comedy/coming-of-age film about a suburban teenager who finds himself (negatively?) influenced and guided by a rambunctious college dropout, who also happens to be his best friend. Pete Davidson's hilarious performance has earned him some serious praise following the movie's premiere at Sundance, with some reviews even saying that "It's Davidson who steals and carries the film."
5. Little Monsters
Are you ready for a romcom/zombie cocktail? Well, buckle up, because Little Monsters is exactly that. This Australian/American comedy horror film, starring Lupita Nyong'o, was the most anticipated screening at Sundance's midnight section and it didn't disappoint. Since its debut on January 27th, rave reviews have been pouring in, saying that Lupita Nyong’o is "pure gold" as she fights zombies in the midst of a kindergarten field trip. Where do they come up with this stuff?!
When a young woman washes ashore on a stranded island, she's forced to survive the elements, clawing hunger, feelings of hopelessness, and a malevolent monster that comes out to feed at night (bet you never saw that coming). Starring "rising star" Kiersey Clemons, Sweetheart is like a cross between Cast Away and The Predator. Since its recent festival debut on the 28th, the film has been described as a "perfect example of greatness through simplicity."
3. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Zac Efron has appeared in many different films, but his portrayal of a serial killer in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is expected to be the one that redefines his entire career. Told from the perspective of Bundy's girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins), Efron stars as the handsome and seemingly normal Ted Bundy, one of America's most prolific serial killers. Given the recent release of Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix, this film is bound to be a success with true crime enthusiasts everywhere.
2. Honey Boy
Everyone knows that Shia LaBeouf is famous for his outrageous antics and eccentricity, but what exactly made him that way? Honey Boy might help shine some light on his past, as the film is based on LaBeouf's life, with his character in the film being based on his own father, an ex-rodeo-clown. Interestingly enough, LaBeouf wrote the script as part of his rehabilitation program and "Honey Boy" was his childhood nickname.
1. I Am Mother
Imagine this: a young girl is raised underground by a robot following humanity's extinction, but the inexplicable arrival of a bloody woman (Hilary Swank) calls the robot's true mission (and nature) into question. Sounds good, right? Despite being relatively low-budget, I Am Mother's intriguing premise and all-star cast has earned the film some overwhelmingly positive reviews following its Sundance debut.