Sundance 2018: My 10 Most Anticipated Films I Can't Wait to See There
by Alex Billington
January 16, 2018
Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery. What's on the line-up this year? Out of the 110+ films showing at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, I've chosen 10 that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. There are so many films playing at the fest, and so many I'll end up seeing (30+), that this is a quick list to get everyone acquainted with some of the work premiering in 2018 (I just want to go see everything). There are new films from great filmmakers like Desiree Akhavan and Reed Morano, and docs about Robin Williams and Fred Rogers, and many other films. You never know what will good or bad, but here's my first few picks for 2018.
This is my 12th year in a row returning to Sundance, starting back in 2007. I'm so excited to be attending Sundance once again, and can't wait to dive into the films more than anything, there's so many I am excited to see from this year's line-up. For now, here's the list of our Top 10 most anticipated films pre-Sundance.
Alex's Most Anticipated \Sundance 2018/ Feature Films:
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Have you seen filmmaker Desiree Akhavan's first film, Appropriate Behavior? If not, fix that right now (it's available on Netflix or iTunes). Her first film was excellent and this is her second feature, and I'm more than excited to see it just because it's her next film. The Miseducation of Cameron Post stars Chloe Moretz as a seemingly "perfect" girl in high school, but after she's seen making out with another girl, she is sent to a conversion therapy center. There she makes friends with the other gay kids, and "for the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she's able to find her place among fellow outcasts." The rest of the cast is just as cool, featuring Sasha Lane (from American Honey), Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr. (from 10 Cloverfield Lane, Short Term 12), and Jennifer Ehle. There's just something about this that sounds like it's going to be fantastic, especially coming from the mind of Desiree Akhavan. It's one of my top priorities and one of the films I'm most looking forward to attending the world premiere of - on Monday afternoon.
Hearts Beat Loud
Directed by Brett Haley
I can't exactly pinpoint why I'm so drawn to this film, but it sounds like it's going to be the perfect Sundance charmer and I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Maybe it's because Nick Offerman is awesome and anything he gets involved in usually turns out damn good. Maybe it's because Kiersey Clemons is a very talented actress, and I'm looking forward to seeing her in a good lead role. Maybe it's because Brett Haley (of The Hero, I'll See You in My Dreams) is an underrated director and makes very heartwarming, humble films. Nick Offerman stars as the father of a daughter who he is about to send off to college. "Hoping to stay connected with his daughter through their shared love of music, he urges her to turn their weekly 'jam sesh' into an actual band. Channeling Sam's resistance into a band name, they unexpectedly find We're Not a Band's first song turning into a minor Spotify hit, and they use their songwriting efforts to work through their feelings about the life changes each of them faces." No need to say anything else about this, I'm there.
Sorry to Bother You
Directed by Boots Riley
Any and everything Lakeith Stanfield appears in, I'll watch. He's one of my favorite actors, hands down, and he's always exceptional (last year at Sundance he was extraordinary in Crown Heights and great in The Incredible Jessica James). Sorry to Bother You sounds like a totally wacky, ridiculous, but hopefully very entertaining film that fits right in at Sundance. Stanfield plays a "30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues" who "discovers a magical selling power living inside of him." He eventually works up the ranks and gets the attention of the telemarketing company's CEO, played by Armie Hammer, described as a "cocaine-snorting, orgy-hosting, obnoxious, and relentlessly optimistic." Say what?! The badass cast also includes Tessa Thompson as his "sign-twirling gallery artist", Steven Yeun, and Jermaine Fowler. I really have no clue what we're getting into with Sorry to Bother You, but I can't wait to find out. Bring it on.
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty
I'm very curious about Search because of the concept more than anything. The film's story is told entirely through computer screens, that's all it shows. (Some may remember the short film Noah did this a few years back, now we have an entire feature.) Of course, living in this modern interconnected world there's plenty they can show - from FaceTime chats and iMessages, to news searches and websites and other updates. The thriller follows a father who breaks into his 16-year-old daughter's laptop to look for clues to find her. John Cho stars, giving a "genuine" performance that Sundance says "imbues Search with depth and relatability." I wouldn't be as excited if they hadn't cast someone as talented as John Cho, as the performances are just as important as the visuals in this, and I'm very excited to see how it all works together. This could either be groundbreaking or a disaster, but no matter what I have to see it for myself and I've got a good feeling so far.
Directed by Sam Levinson
The original, outrageous one-liner for this film when it was announced in the line-up is what sold me on it: "This is a one-thousand-percent true story about how the quiet, all-American town of Salem, Massachusetts, absolutely lost its mind." Everyone knows that Salem is the infamous town where a massive witch hunt took place in 1692, and over 20 women were executed for being "witches". But this film is actually set in modern times, and follows a group of high school girls. "When a provocateur starts posting details from the private digital lives of everyone in their small town of Salem, the result is a Category 5 shitstorm. We're talking browser histories, direct messages, illegal downloads, secret text chains, and way, way, way worse. People get angry. Like, 'rampaging murder posse' angry." Sounds totally wild, right? This apparently has everything - action, comedy, drama, horror, craziness galore. Perfect film to see with the midnight crowd at Sundance.
More Feature Films I'm Looking Forward To Seeing: Carlos López Estrada's comedy Blindspotting, Reinaldo Marcus Green's Monsters and Men, Bart Layton's American Animals, Jennifer Fox's The Tale, Paul Dano's Wildlife, Panos Cosmatos' Mandy, Sebastián Silva's Tyrel, Marc Turtletaub's Puzzle, Reed Morano's I Think We're Alone Now, Elizabeth Chomko's What They Had, Crystal Moselle's Skate Kitchen, Anthony Mandler's Monster, Christina Choe's Nancy, Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade, and Idris Elba's Yardie.
Alex's Most Anticipated \Sundance 2018/ Documentaries:
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind
Directed by Marina Zenovich
Yes, let's take a journey inside the wonderful, iconic mind of the late Robin Williams. Every year we get a handful of new documentaries that profile great actors, and every year they get better and better, mining deeply meditative and philosophical ideas that emerge from the depths of their minds. It makes me sad to think about the fact that Robin Williams is no longer with us, but hopefully this documentary is a positive and inspiring journey through his life, not a depressing one. I love that the title even says "Come Inside My Mind" and that photo they've chosen is perfect. Who wouldn't want to see what's in there? This also reminds me of the documentary about Jim Carrey recently recently, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, and I'm hoping this one is as enlightening and rousing. The more I think about it, the more excited I am to watch this film.
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Directed by Morgan Neville
A documentary about the late Mr. Rogers? Why not! Another documentary that I'm curious to see because I want to know where it goes, and what they show, and what they tell us about his life and who he really was. I'm particularly interested in this because it's directed by Morgan Neville, a very talented documentary filmmaker who brought the outstanding doc Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal to Sundance a few years ago, and also directed the Oscar-winning 20 Feet from Stardom. I highly doubt there's a secret "other" side of Fred Rogers waiting to be revealed in this, but nonetheless it will be interesting to learn about his life and everything that influenced him. This could be exactly the dose of kindness and optimism we all need right now. From Sundance: "He believed in love as the essential ingredient in life and was able to assist kids through difficult situations armed merely with handmade puppets suggesting tolerance and acceptance."
When this was announced, I thought it was actually a feature film (described as a "magical-realist journey"), but it's actually a very creative documentary. 306 Hollywood asks the question: "Do objects retain a spark of life from their owner after that person dies?" The film follows the filmmakers, Elan Bogarín & Jonathan Bogarín, as they go through all of the many items found inside their grandmother's home. From Sundance, the duo goes "on an epic odyssey to excavate their deceased grandma Annette's unassuming Newark home of 71 years. Toothbrushes, tax documents, three vacuum cleaners—her motley collection of stuff becomes a universe unto itself, springing to life in the cinematic playground of this innovative documentary." I'm already intrigued, and the photos from the film they've released seem particularly appealing - all of her stuff is laid out around or on the house. I just have to see this film and find out how/if they answer that question.
Minding the Gap
Directed by Bing Liu
I don't know that much about this doc, but I've been hearing great things about it already. Minding the Gap is described as a story about three friends growing up: "Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship." It's directed by Bing Liu, a young filmmaker who decided to start filming his own group of friends, in order to tell a very intimate and honest story about their lives. He grew up making skateboarding videos with his friends and is now delivering his feature full-length feature. This is one of those films that just gives me a good feeling even though I don't know much about it, and I want to go in and discover what it's all about and hopefully experience an endearing and enthralling portrait of today's youth.
Half the Picture
Directed by Amy Adrion
This is a doc about female filmmakers, women who want to tell stories, make movies, and get behind-the-lens. "At a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood, successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives and careers. Having endured a long history of systemic discrimination, women filmmakers may be getting the first glimpse of a future that values their voices equally." It features interviews with just about everyone, all the very talented filmmakers out there fighting to have equal representation. This seems like it's going to be an inspiring, empowering film that doesn't only focus on the problem, but lifts up the people and shows us they're just as talented at making movies as all the men. Directed by newcomer Amy Adrion, the doc examines the issues and most importantly remind us: "the time to listen and act is now."
More Documentaries I'm Looking Forward To Seeing: Laura Nix's Inventing Tomorrow, Cameron Yates' Chef Flynn, Kimberly Reed's Dark Money, Heather Lenz's Kusama: Infinity, Christian Frei & Maxim Arbugaev's Genesis 2.0, Derek Doneen's Kailash, Cody Lucich's Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock, Louie Psihoyos' The Game Changers, Moritz Riesewieck & Hans Block's The Cleaners, and Generation Wealth.
For all of Alex's Sundance 2018 reviews and updates: Follow @firstshowing
For more Sundance 2018 previews around the web, highlighting early picks and potential breakouts, see: the NY Time's 6 Films to Know, The Film Stage's 16 Most-Anticipated Films, Nerdist's 13 Most Anticipated Movies, HeyUGuys' Most Anticipated Films Chat, and Indiewire's 21 Must-See Films At This Year's Festival. You never know what might be a big hit, and it's vital to have a pulse on the buzz – even before the festival starts. There's plenty of exciting and potentially wonderful films hidden in the 2018 line-up, bring them on.
You can follow our Sundance 2018 coverage and updates in this category. The festival kicks off January 18th and runs until the 28th, with films premiering for 10 days straight. Let's get going and start watching.