This year’s Sundance Film Festival ended yesterday. The awards have been handed out. The film nerds have vacated Park City. And some not-so-big deals have been made. But did Festival Director John Cooper live up to his promise that this year’s offerings would put the indie back in Sundance? Let’s examine some of the buzziest new films after the jump.
The Kids Are All Right Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) directs this dramedy about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) who are reunited with their kids’ sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). It was snatched up by Focus Features for around $5 million.
Catfish Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s documentary about a New York City emerging photographer’s online relationship with a family in Michigan was one of the most talked about films of the festival — perhaps because the “relationship” started thanks to a letter from an 8-year-old girl named Abby.
Hesher Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, and Natalie Portman star in Spencer Susser’s film about a 13-year-old boy dealing with the devastation of his mother’s death. Gordon-Levitt plays an unlikely mentor who inserts himself into the family’s home. Newmarket bought the film for around $1 million.
Exit Through the Gift Shop This “Banksy Film” is a comedy/pseudo documentary, and from what we’ve read, has very little to do with the infamous street artist. Here’s what Cooper had to say: “Exit Through the Gift Shop is one of those films that comes along once in a great while, a warped hybrid of reality and self-induced fiction while at the same time a totally entertaining experience. The story is so bizarre I began to question if it could even be real… but in the end I didn’t care.”
Jack Goes Boating Philip Seymour Hoffman reprises his role as a limo driver in this film adaptation of Bob Glaudini’s play, which was produced by the LAByrinth in 2007. It’s PSH’s directorial debut; Amy Ryan and his LAByrinth Theater co-director John Ortiz co-star.
Happythankyoumoreplease Another directing debut, this one from How I Met Your Mother‘s Josh Radnor, who wrote the screenplay as well. From what we’ve read, it doesn’t qualify as rebellious (it’s HIMYM with swearing), but it was charming enough to take home the Audience Award for Dramatic Film. Plus, how could you not love a movie that lets Tony Hale try sexy on for a change?
Winter’s Bone A follow-up to 2004’s Down to the Bone. This dark drama about a girl with a meth-head deadbeat dad going up against Missouri’s backwoods mafia won the grand jury prize in the U.S. dramatic category and scored filmmaker Debra Granik the Waldo Salt screenwriting award.
Blue Valentine There’s something about the idea of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams playing both an older married couple and the younger versions of themselves that we find intriguing. If nothing else, Derek Cianfrance’s debut manages to make a bad romance look good.
ODDSAC Animal Collective and director Danny Perez worked together for three years to concoct this “visual album.” If you’re already an AnCo fan or enjoy films without narrative, click here to find a screening in your city.
Restrepo Reporter Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington spent a year embedded with a platoon in Afghanistan’s deadly Korengal Valley to gather material this film. A compelling mixture of personal interviews and live battle footage, it took home the U.S. documentary grand jury prize.