Let’s face it, when one thinks about independent filmmaking, the name Sundance immediately comes to mind. Whether you like or not, the famed film festival is still a force to be reckoned with in the industry, and even though it may have lost some of its splendor (or relevance), it still remains the biggest independent festival in the world.
Granted, the festival has launched the careers of some of the best filmmakers today, being the first to introduce the world to Steven Soderbergh through Sex, Lies & Videotape (which went on to win a Palme d’Or in Cannes), the Coen brothers through Blood Simple, Kevin Smith and even Tarantino through Reservoir Dogs. Even if a lot of movies went on to have great successes after the festival, there were still huge flops such as Happy, Texas starring Steve Zahn, Grace is Gone or Hamlet 2 featuring Steve Coogan. Rave reviews and standing ovations at Sundance don’t always translate to the box office.
Like every year, 2017 seems to have an interesting lineup, so let’s take a look at what we can expect from the festival come January and a couple of the films you should be looking forward to.
First off is The Discovery, Charlie McDowell’s sophomore film follwoing the weird but awesome The One I Love. In a world where the afterlife has just been proven, millions of people take their own lives while two of them fall in love. It’s looking like a very interesting sci-fi romance but it probably won’t make a big impression at the festival (even though it stars Jason Segel) because Netflix is distributing it.
Next up is Mudbound, a big pioneer saga set in America during WW2, starring Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke (one of our favourite actors today) and Garrett Hedlund. Directed by Dee Rees who made a name for herself with Pariah and the HBO movie Bessie, this looks like the kind of drama that could make it from Sundance to the Oscars.
Rebel in the Rye is also on our radar, a film about the life of reclusive writer J.D. Salinger, starring Nicholas Hoult in the titular role, Kevin Spacey and Sarah Paulson (who won a much deserved Emmy this year). This sounds like a tricky project but Danny Strong is helming the project, an actor (seen in Mad Men) turned writer who penned Mockingjay, The Butler and the guilty pleasure Empire, so this could turn out very well.
Last but not least is Wind River, the directorial debut of Taylor Sheridan, the brilliant writer behind Sicario and Hell or High Water (two of the best films we’ve seen in years). The film stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen and takes place on a Native American reservation. Needless to say we are beyond excited for this flick and it’ll hopefully continue in the footsteps of his earlier scripts.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but as you can see there’s already a lot of potential in the Sundance lineup. Between these and the slew of other films who knows, maybe the 2017 festival will feature the next Palme d’Or/Best Picture winner. We’ll just have to wait until the festival opens in January 19 to find out.