The past 72 hours has seen a ridiculous amount of news come indieWIRE‘s way – notably the Sundance lineup, the Spirit Award nominations, and the National Board of Review winners… I’ve had very little time to wrap my head around it all, particularly the overwhelming Sundance lineup, which came in through two massive announcements today and yesterday. I have, however, become very familiar with the very basic elements of Sundance’s lineup – through endlessly ensuring the titles, directors, casts and synopses all now up on indieWIRE.com would be ready to go when the embargo was lifted… So based on this knowledge base, here’s 10 films that caught my eye based on some quick and shallow observations…
Becoming Chaz/U.S.A. (Directors: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) — Born biologically female, Chastity Bono invites the viewer into a deeply personal journey as he transitions from female to male, embracing his true self, which is Chaz.
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Madeleine Olnek) — A shy greeting card store employee unknowingly falls for a lesbian space alien while two government agents closely track their romance. Cast: Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky, Rae C Wright. World Premiere
The Details/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jacob Aaron Estes) — When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ donation and murder by way of bow and arrow. Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Tobey Maguire.
My Idiot Brother/U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Peretz; Screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall) — After serving time for selling pot, Ned successively moves in with each of his three sisters as he tries to get back on his feet. His best intentions quickly bring the family to the cusp of chaos and ultimately the brink of clarity. Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer.
Page One: A year inside the New York Times (Director: Andrew Rossi; Screenwriters: Kate Novack and Andrew Rossi) — Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.
The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) — A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia’s horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.
Red State/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) — A group of misfits encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. Cast: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo.
Terri (Director: Azazel Jacobs; Screenwriters: Patrick Dewitt and Azazel Jacobs) — Orphaned to an uncle who is fading away, mercilessly teased by his peers and roundly ignored by his teachers, Terri is alienated and alone. When the dreaded vice-principal sees something of himself in Terri, they establish a friendship which opens Terri up to the possibility that life is not something to be endured, but something to be shared, and even enjoyed. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina.
We Were Here (Director: David Weissman) — A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.
Win Win/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tom McCarthy, based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni) — When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy’s mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.