Director: Dave Grohl
Distributor: Variance Films + digital download
Release Date: Feb. 1
Why Might It Be a Must See: Grohl is the rare rock star with great songwriting talent, a healthy sense of humor and a real reverence for the history of his profession. “Sound City,” his directorial debut, collects dozens of famous faces (and voices) to tell the story of Sound City Studios and the Neve 8028 recording console that was used there by a roster of iconic bands (including his own earlier band, Nirvana). The film, which will screen in the Documentary Premieres section of the Sundance Film Festival, also makes a nostalgic case for the beauty of analog recording. It’s bound to be both fan-stoking in terms of the collection of iconic musicians Grohl got to appear in the film and enlightening in its look at a specific segment of rock history. [Jay A. Fernandez]
"The Spectacular Now"
Director: James Ponsoldt
Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler
Release Date: premiering in the U.S. dramatic competition at Sundance Jan. 18
Why Might It Be a Must See: This Sundance selection features an intriguing collaboration between Ponsoldt, whose “Off the Black” and “Smashed” (Sundance 2012, in competition) were keenly observed dramas, and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, whose “(500) Days of Summer” (Sundance 2009) brought true independent spirit to the romantic comedy genre. Strong, unpredictable actresses load the cast (Woodley, Leigh, Winstead) to tell the story, adapted from the Tim Tharp novel, of a freewheeling high school senior and the nice-girl female introvert he attempts to "save” — with mixed results. The writing-directing-acting pedigree has potential breakthrough written all over it. [Jay A. Fernandez]
Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Jackie Weaver and Dermot Mulroney
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: February 28
Why Might It Be A Must See: If the recently unveiled trailer for Park Chan-Wook's first foray into English language filmmaking territory didn't get you stoked (sorry, we couldn't resist), then there's no helping you. Boasting stunning cinematography by Chan-Wook's right hand man Chung-hoon Chung, an A-list cast, and a story to die for, the thriller looks like one of the best bets this spring. "Stoker" centers on moody teen India (Mia Wasikowska), who welcomes in an uncle (Matthew Goode) she didn't know existed soon after her father passes away. With her bereaved mother (Nicole Kidman) visibly unstable, India soon becomes suspicious of the mysterious uncle's motives but finds herself drawn to him at the same time. [Nigel M. Smith]
"Stories We Tell"
Director: Sarah Polley
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: May 17th.
Why Might It Be a Must See: One of the most acclaimed films from this past fall's festival circuit, Sarah Polley's deeply personal documentary about her own family is coming to theaters this year care of Roadside Attractions. Polley uses home movies, new interviews and voice-over narration to explore secrets in her own family in the incredibly moving doc, which will give you yet another reason to love the Canadian child actress turned woman who can clearly do anything. [Peter Knegt]
"Tom à la ferme "
Director: Xavier Dolan
Cast: Xavier Dolan, Caleb Landry Jones, Evelyne Brochu, Lise Roy, Mélodie Simard, Eric Bruneau
Release Date: Surely a major festival debut, though US distribution has often been oddly problematic for Dolan ("I Killed My Mother" and "Laurence Anyways" should both finally come out in 2013, which could mean Dolan has three US releases this year).
Why Might It Be a Must See: Xavier Dolan returns both in front and behind the camera with his fourth feature film, and his first adaptation. A take on Michel Marc Bouchard's play "Tom à la Ferme," the story follows Tom (Dolan), a man coping with the death of his boyfriend. When he heads to meet the deceased's family at their rural farm, it becomes clear his mother was not aware of her son's relationship with Tom (or his sexual orientation), and things spiral out of control. Dolan fans are surely already counting the minutes. [Peter Knegt]
"Tomorrow We Disappear"
Director: Jim Goldblum and Adam M. Weber
Distributor: None yet.
Release Date: Set to debut at festivals this year.
Why Might It Be a Must See: First-time feature directors Goldblum and Weber have crafted a stunning look at Kathputli Colony, an Indian magician's colony full of magicians and artisans that is set to be destroyed by developers. The project, a former Indiewire Project of the Month, hasn't been announced at any film festival -- yet! The film was one of the first documentaries to really break out on Kickstarter, exceeding its $40,000 goal by over $20,000 in 2011. [Bryce J. Renninger]