SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2016 PROMISES TO SHINE BRIGHTLY YET AGAIN
The Sundance Film Festival is set for January 21-31, 2016 in Park City, Utah. This ever-expanding festival brings out every star, both big and small, to see and be seen. Covering this festival for the past 5 years, I research the films to find the best of the best. This year promises to have some wonderful hidden gems that might be flying under the radar at this point. Here are Reel Honest Reviews’ 40 anticipated standout films:
U.S. DRAMATIC CATEGORY:
EQUITY: As a female reviewer, (and there aren’t very many of us) I like to seek out female-centric films. “Equity” is one of those films. As senior investment banker Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) climbs her way to the top, she ultimately fights for survival in this cutthroat business. Seen through the eyes of a woman, Wall Street looks a little different. Directed by Meera Menon, this movie finds its way to the top of my list of films to see.
BIRTH OF A NATION: The historically significant racial events that occurred in the 1800’s are frequently buried so that we don’t look at the ugliness of those times. “The Birth of a Nation” tells us the previously unknown story of a charismatic preacher named Nat Turner who lead one of the most successful slave rebellions in U.S. History.
OTHER PEOPLE: Family. It can be a dramatic topic or a comedic one. It can even be tragic. But “Other People” starring Molly Shannon, June Squibb, and Jesse Plemons promises to be a little bit of everything as a young comedian moves back home to care for his ailing mother.
Additional highly anticipated films include: “Joshy,” “Morris from America,” “Swiss Army Man,” “Tallulah,” “The Free World,” “Christine,” and “The Intervention.”
CERTAIN WOMEN: Kelly Reichardt’s trailblazing film about several intersecting lives and stories, promises to reach deep inside of these characters to unearth their hidden emotions and the reality of life. Marriage, guilt, and stress appear to all be prominent story-lines in this film.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA: Kyle Chandler and Casey Affleck headline this film about coming home and facing the past. Affleck’s character loses his only sibling and is charged with guardianship of his 16 year old nephew. This promises to be a moving and deeply emotional film about life and the paths we choose and have chosen.
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: What happens to a secluded family of 6 children when they lose their choice to live in the deep forest of the Pacific Northwest and must (re)connect with society and its norms? Viggo Mortensen plays the patriarch who must somehow redefine his role as a parent.
FRANK & LOLA: Michael Shannon is always a beacon calling you to watch him in a film as he never disappoints. “Frank & Lola” looks to be an interesting psychological love story full of betrayal, deceit, and trust. Imogen Poots, Justin Long, and Michael Nyqvist round out this solid cast.
Additional highly anticipated films in this category include: “Agnus Dei,” “Complete Unknown,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “Complete Unknown,” “The Hollars,” “Love & Friendship,” “Mr. Pig,” “The Fundamentals of Caring,” and “Little Men.”
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT: In the early 1900’s, an ill German scientist seeks the cure for his ailment in the Amazon. Karamakate, a reclusive Shaman holds the secret to a cure. 40 years later, an American follows the same path and unknowingly finds the same Shaman. Filmed in black and white, this promises to be a realistic recreation of a time and place long forgotten.
GREEN ROOM: Imogene Poots finds a second film here at Sundance in this sinister and dark thriller. Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin accompany her into the confines of “the green room” backstage to sort out a horrifically messy situation.
THE LOBSTER: (Screened at TIFF 2015) I was thrilled to see this film continuing on in the film festival circuit. Starring Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly, and Rachel Weisz, the story is one of the most unusual creations about love, life, mythology, and dogma you could imagine.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE A DOUCHEBAG
HOW TO TELL YOU’RE A DOUCHEBAG: I think the name says it all, but if you need more convincing, here you go. A blogger aka “freelance writer” gains a bit of notoriety in NYC about his topic: “Occasionally Dating Black Women.” In a split second, he makes a poor public choice resulting in a need to make amends to save his credibility in the media world. In a day and age when everything is instantaneous, “How to Tell You’re a Douchebag” promises to tell a very real, funny, and relevant story.
WORLD DRAMATIC CATEGORY:
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Switch gears right now as this film has nothing to do with Shakespeare. As a college student is involved in a deadly hit and run accident, he finds himself thrown into a criminal case in a very corrupt legal system that favors the priveleged and connected. Based on a recent and true story.
Additional highly anticipated films in this category: “A Good Wife,” “Between Sea and Land,” and “Mammal”
U.S. DOCUMENTARIES CATEGORY:
HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD: Climate change is real and we may be past the point of no return. Filmmaker Josh Fox (“Gasland”-2010) travels the world to deliver “a sobering portrait” of areas that have already experienced catastrophic events.
LIFE, ANIMATED: Imagine awakening a young non-verbal autistic adult to convey what it is like to be autistic through the use of Disney movies and puppetry. Owen Suskind’s story allows the outside world to come in and understand a previously unexplored world.
Additional highly anticipated films in this category: “Nuts,” “Kate Plays Christine,” and “The Bad Kids”
DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES CATEGORY:
RESILIENCE: What if childhood traumas influenced your future medical health? James Redford documents this very real and supported research indicating that there is in fact a link.
Additional highly anticipated films in this category: “Norman Lear,” Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall,” “Nothing Left Unsaid,” and “Unlocking the Cage”
Living in Illinois, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight “The Illinois Parables” from the NEXT CATEGORY. Eleven parables are explored as they reflect a midwestern interpretation due to the areas surroundings and politics.
For more information about the festival go to www.sundance.org
Check back during the festival for up-to-date reviews and videos!