"Mutual Friends," directed by Matthew Watts
Plenty of movies feature a bevvy of characters with separate plots whose stories converge over the course of a big event. So what makes Matthew Watts' New York-set comedy about seven intertwining stories stand out from the pack? Each story was written by a different writer. As Watts told Indiewire late last year while in the midst of filming his romantic comedy, he rounded up a group of friends to pitch shorts, with some parameters in place to ensure the stories could all connect. The finished product, which Watts referred to as "an indie, New York centric, micro-budget 'Love Actually,'" takes place in one day to track a group of 30-somethings, all headed to a surprise party that's destined to fail. The ensemble includes Caitlin Fitzgerald ("Newlyweds"), Cheyenne Jackson ("30 Rock"), Michael Chernus ("Higher Ground") and Michael Stahl-David ("Cloverfield"). "Mutual Friends" wrapped production last November, so chances are the folks at Sundance have seen the culmination of Watts' experiment. Whether they liked what they saw -- we'll know by next week. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Side Effects," directed by Steven Soderbergh
With a February 8 release, distributor Open Roads is likely banking on Steven Soderbergh's latest to screen at the festival -- and it looks like a definite possibility for the "Premieres" section. The medical drama sees the incredibly prolific auteur reuniting with Channing Tatum, the star of his summer sleeper hit "Magic Mike." Rooney Mara leads the film, in her first role since bagging an Oscar nomination for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," as Emily Hawkins, who at the outset of the trailer is reunited with her husband (Tatum) following a stint he served behind bars. Rather than leave her in great spirits, his return ups her anxiety, leading her to take meds to regulate her spiraling feelings. Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vinessa Shaw round out the cast. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Touchy Feely," directed by Lynn Shelton
Lynn Shelton is following up her immensely acclaimed "Your Sister's Sister" (which screened at Sundance earlier this year after premiering in Toronto) with "Touchy Feely," which reunites Shelton with her one of her "Sister"s, Rosemarie DeWitt. DeWitt -- playing a massage therapist who suddenly finds the human body repulsive -- is joined by Ellen Page, Ron Livingston, Josh Pais, Scott McNairy and Allison Janney in the film. Said to feature multiple storylines, it's a departure from the focused three person narratives of both "Sister" and its predecessor, "Humpday." In post-production as of late summer, it seems like a safe -- and very welcome -- bet for a Sundance premiere. [Peter Knegt]

Trance," directed by Danny Boyle
Director Danny Boyle has been a Telluride kind of guy since the Colorado mountain festival gave his “Slumdog Miilionaire” a slot in 2008 that started the avalanche to a best picture Oscar. Two years later he snuck “127 Hours” there instead of taking it to Venice or Sundance. But since his new one, “Trance,” wasn’t ready for the 2012 Telluride edition, it makes Sundance a real possibility. His usual distributor, Fox Searchlight, always uses Sundance for both picking up new titles (“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and launching word-of-mouth promotion on homegrown projects (“Cedar Rapids,” “Cyrus”). Boyle’s “28 Days Later…” (also Searchlight) played Sundance in 2003, and “Trance,” a crime thriller about a lost painting that stars James McAvoy, has a March release date scheduled, so the timing makes the new film a very likely entry. [Jay A. Fernandez]

"Warm Bodies," directed by Jonathan Levine
After "50/50"'s positive reception in 2011, Jonathan Levine has made a directorial return with "Warm Bodies," a zombie love story backed by Summit Entertainment. Nicholas Hoult, of "X-Men: First Class" fame, will star as a zombie who develops feelings for a human girl played by Teresa Palmer. Adapted from Isaac Marion's novel of the same name, the film will focus on their developing relationship and its effects on the post-apocalyptic zombie universe. Dave Franco, John Malkovich and Analeigh Tipton also star. [Justin Krajeski]

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival runs January 17-27, 2013.