Our 12 Most Anticipated Sundance Movies

most anticipated sundance movies

This week, the bulk of the /Film crew is heading to Park City, Utah for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. This means that the coming days will be full of reviews and reactions from the year’s first major film festival, a place where major movies premiere, gems are discovered, and the basic shape of the entire year in film begins to take shape. If this Sundance is like every other Sundance, we will see some of the best movies of 2018 and discover some incredible new talent over the next week – it’s our job to put them on your radar.

But that begins tomorrow. Today, the team is en route. Today, we’re writing about our 12 most anticipated Sundance movies, the films that we’re making sure we see no matter what. And that means you should know about them, too.

American Animals Sundance

American Animals

Filmmaker Bart Layton directed a fascinating documentary called The Imposter back in 2012, so I’m curious how he’ll make the leap to narrative features here. The film tells “the unbelievable but mostly true story of four young men who mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history,” and that synopsis contains two of my favorite tropes: movie heists, and the meta construct of movie characters believing they’re in a movie. The cast includes Evan Peters (American Horror Story, X-Men: Days of Future Past), Blake Jenner (Everybody Wants Some!!), Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer), Ann Dowd (The Leftovers, The Handmaid’s Tale) and more, so at the very least it should be fun to see what Layton does with such a solid up-and-coming cast. (Ben Pearson)

The Catcher Was a Spy

The Catcher Was a Spy

Paul Rudd is playing a major league baseball catcher who is recruited by the the World War II equivalent of the CIA to stop a German scientist from building an atomic bomb for the Nazis. Even though Rudd has recently become a Marvel Comics superhero on the big screen, we’ve never really seen him tackle a role like this, and that’s an exciting prospect, especially in the hands of Sundance veteran director Ben Lewin (The Sessions) and Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat. Plus, when the cast also features Jeff Daniels and Guy Pearce as seasoned spies and Paul Giamatti as a Dutch physicist, along with Mark Strong and Sienna Miller appearing. You can’t help but want to see this movie as soon as possible. Plus, I like that old school style title that calls back to movies of the 1950s. (Ethan Anderton)

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

I’m a sucker for coming-of-age movies and the subgenre that is indie Sundance coming-of-age dramadies. Bo Burnham is best known as a comedy actor who has supporting roles in films ranging from Funny People to The Big Sick, and his feature directorial debut Eighth Grade is about a teenager who is trying to “survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school.” This one comes from A24, the indie film company responsible for Moonlight, Room, Good Time, The Florida Project, The Disaster Artist and Lady Bird, so to say they have a great track record may be an understatement. (Peter Sciretta)

The Kindergarten Teacher

The Kindergarten Teacher

Along with coming-of-age movies, I’ve always been interested in movies that team adults with precocious children. In this case, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a kindergarten teacher who becomes fascinated by a five-year-old boy in her evening poetry class. In order to make sure this young poet lives up to his full potential, she does whatever in takes in order to ensure that he doesn’t end up in the kind of mundane life that has turned her numb. This is a cliched Sundance description through and through, but the presence of Gyllenhaal is extremely promising. Plus, I have a bit of a personal interest in this film as a poet friend of mine, Kaveh Akbar, was asked to write poetry for this movie. (Ethan Anderton)

lizzie

Lizzie

Craig William Macneill, who helmed the disturbing indie horror film The Boy as well as the first season of Channel Zero, directs this intriguing look at the (alleged) murders at the hands of Lizzie Borden. In the 1890s, the wealthy father and step-mother of Lizzie Borden (played here by Chloë Sevigny) were found brutally axed to death. Borden was eventually arrested and brought to trial for the crime, and while she was acquitted, almost everyone at this point assumes she was guilty. Macneill’s Lizzie will chronicle the events before and after the murders, as well as Lizzie’s relationship with her family’s maid, played by Kristen Stewart. As a fan of true crime, this cast, and Macneill’s previous work, puts this film is at the very top of my must-see at Sundance list. (Chris Evangelista)

Nicolas Cage appears in Mandy by Panos Cosmatos, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Mandy

It’s practically impossible for me to avoid a Nicolas Cage movie, especially if it’s going to be a Nicolas Cage movie where Nicolas Cage goes full Nicolas Cage. What I mean by that is: the type of unhinged, wild-eyed, shrieking performance Cage delivers so well. Mandy pits Cage against a supernatural sect that murdered the love of his life. The still image for the film is literally a shot of Cage’s puzzled face covered in blood, so there’s no freakin’ way I’m missing this flick. (Chris Evangelista)

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