The 17 Movies We're Most Anticipating At The 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Can't-Miss Movies At The 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Oscar season has kept the buzz alive for "Boyhood" and "Whiplash," two of the biggest smashes at last year's Sundance Film Festival. Those features join a long list of beloved indies that debuted in Utah, including awards winners such as "The Usual Suspects," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Precious" and “Beasts of the Southern Wild." Next January, we'll probably be able to add a few new titles to the list -- or at least hope Sundance 2015 unearthed the next "Sex, Lies and Videotape," "Blair Witch Project" or "Napoleon Dynamite."

While the rest of the moviegoing population catches up on the newly minted Oscar nominees, Hollywood is set to descend upon Park City, Utah, this week for the first major film festival of 2015. There, they'll be the first to set eyes on a number of splashy movies, including these 17 titles we've earmarked as unmissable. And the list doesn't end there: HuffPost Entertainment will spotlight Sundance's strong slate of documentaries (including Alex Gibney's juicy Scientology exposé) later this week. We'll also be on site for the first half of the festival, providing coverage of all the major films premiering. For now, here are some of the narrative features we may be talking about this time next year:

"Z for Zachariah"
Directed by Craig Zobel • Written by Nissar Modi

The adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's 1974 novel could be one of the year's great indie blockbusters. Margot Robbie, Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor star as the last known survivors of a nuclear war in the second film from the director of the sensational 2012 thriller "Compliance."
"The End of the Tour"
Directed by James Ponsoldt • Written by Donald Margulies

Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky chronicled his five-day road trip with David Foster Wallace in the 2010 memoir "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself." James Ponsoldt ("Smashed," "The Spectacular Now") brings the writers' journey to the big screen with Jason Segel playing Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky. Wallace's estate isn't pleased with the film's existence, but we have a feeling this movie will create a lot of chatter in 2015 nonetheless.
"Digging for Fire"
Directed by Joe Swanberg • Written and directed by Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg

Get a load of this cast: Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Jenny Slate, Chris Messina and Timothy Simons. Oh, and it's from the brain of Joe Swanberg ("Drinking Buddies," "Happy Christmas"). With those credentials, the plot is practically irrelevant, but if you must know: Two burnt-out parents find a bone and a gun in a yard while housesitting and try to take their mind off the discovery by partying with their respective pals. See? This movie is perfect already.
"Nasty Baby"
Written and directed by Sebastian Silva

Sebastian Silva is a bit of a Sundance celebrity, cemented by 2009's "The Maid" and 2013's "Crystal Fairy." Silva's latest casts himself as a baby-obsessed Brooklyn artist who asks his friend (Kristen Wiig) to carry a child for him and his boyfriend (TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe). While enduring the trials of artificial insemination, the trio is harassed by a mentally ill man in the neighborhood known as The Bishop.
"True Story"
Directed by Rupert Goold • Written by Rupert Goold and David Kajganich

Jonah Hill slips on his serious glasses to play Michael Finkel, a disgraced New York Times journalist who learns an obsessive murderer (James Franco) captured in Mexico was claiming his identity. Finkel travels to interview the prisoner in hopes of restoring his integrity, resulting in a cat-and-mouse game that is worlds away from Hill and Franco's bawdy apocalypse comedy "This is the End." "True Story" already has a limited release set for April 10. Watch the trailer here.
"The D Train"
Written and directed by Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul

The description of "The D Train" on Sundance's site describes Jack Black's character as "lovable and pathetic," so this is obviously new territory for the "School of Rock" star. Black is Dan Landsman, the laughingstock of his high school friends. Planning their class reunion, Dan travels to Los Angeles to convince their most famous classmate (James Marsden), the star of a Banana Boat commercial, to attend the event. From two of the writers of "Yes Man," the comedy also stars Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor and Mike White.
"The Overnight"
Written and directed by Patrick Brice

Taylor Schilling shed her orange jumpsuit and Adam Scott abandoned Pawnee to play married parents who move to Los Angeles and befriend another couple at the neighborhood park. While their kids have a playdate, the four young parents share a bit more about one another than they'd expected. Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche are on hand as the other couple in what sounds like a cousin to "Carnage." If that isn't enough to hook you, consider that Mark and Jay Duplass produced the dramedy.
Directed by Kim Farrant • Written by Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons

A massive dust storm in a remote Australian town leaves two panicked parents (Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) hunting for their two missing teenagers as temperatures rise and survival becomes increasingly questionable.
"I Am Michael"
Written and directed by Justin Kelly

"I Am Michael" is one of 2015's guaranteed buzz machines. James Franco plays a gay activist very much unlike the one he portrayed in "Milk." Despite co-founding an LGBT-oriented teen magazine, Michael Glatze renounced his sexuality and became a Christian evangelist after a death scare. That became the subject of a popular New York Times article in 2011, and now Emma Roberts, Zachary Quinto and Daryl Hannah are co-starring in the film adaptation.
"Stockholm, Pennsylvania"
Written and directed by Nikole Beckwith

A young woman (Saoirse Ronan) held captive in a basement for 17 years is reunited with her family. She must now reconcile her haunting past with the reality of parents (Cynthia Nixon and David Warshofsky) who are virtual strangers and a world she didn't know existed. Keep an eye on first-time filmmaker Nikole Beckwith, who also wrote the forthcoming transgender dramedy "Three Generations," starring Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon.
"The Stanford Prison Experiment"
Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez • Written by Tim Talbott

The famous 1971 psychological experiment observed 24 college-age men as they acted as prisoners and guards in a jail simulation gone awry. Billy Crudup plays Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who launched the study and served as a consultant on the film, with Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan and Olivia Thirlby co-starring in the third feature from the director of "C.O.G."
"Sleeping with Other People"
Written and directed by Leslye Headland

Leslye Headland's first movie, the Kirsten Dunst-Rebel Wilson comedy "Bachelorette," premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. "Sleeping with Other People" promises to follow in its raunchy footsteps, casting Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as serial philanderers who attempt to carry on a platonic relationship while attending sex-addiction recovery groups. Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Jason Mantzoukas and Natasha Lyonne round out the cast.
"Mistress America"
Directed by Noah Baumbach • Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach won over audiences with "Frances Ha," and now they've joined forces again for the tale of a disenchanted New York college student whose adventurous stepsister (Lola Kirke) shows her how to have a good time. Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale" was a champion of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and "Mistress America" is already one of 2015's winners, as Fox Searchlight bought distribution rights to the film earlier this month.
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Anyone nostalgic for "Yo! MTV Raps" should put "Dope" on their must-see list. From the writer/director of "The Wood" and "Brown Sugar" comes the whimsical comedy about three high school outcasts (Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" breakout Tony Revolori) obsessed with '90s hip-hop who are invited to a drug dealer's rowdy birthday party.
"James White"
Written and directed by Josh Mond

Josh Mond cut his teeth as a producer on "Martha Marcy May Marlene," where he met Christopher Abbott. Now, Mond's first feature film casts the former "Girls" actor as an unemployed New Yorker struggling to put his life in order while his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles cancer. Look out for Kid Cudi playing the title character's longtime buddy.
"I Smile Back"
Directed by Adam Salky • Written by Amy Koppelman and Paige Dylan

Sarah Silverman plays her dramatic cards as a suburban mother whose pristine facade masks depression and recklessness. Based on the 2008 novel by Amy Koppelman, "I Smile Back" also stars Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski and Chris Sarandon.
Directed by John Crowley • Written by Nick Hornby

Saoirse Ronan is an immigrant who leaves 1950s Ireland for New York in the adaptation of Colm Tóibín's acclaimed novel. Scripted by Nick Hornby, "Brooklyn" traces Eilis Lacey as she finds love and makes peace with her new home. Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters also star.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 22-Feb. 1. Check out the full lineup.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Mark Ruffalo

Sundance 2014

Popular in the Community