Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Rosemarie Dewitt, Ellen Page, Ron Livingston, Allison Janney, Scoot McNairy
Distributor: None as of yet.
Release Date: Premiering in competiiton at Sundance, and all but assured to be picked up. Though when it gets released in theaters is another question.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Lynn Shelton is following up her acclaimed "Your Sister's Sister" with "Touchy Feely," which reunites her with her one of her "Sister" stars, 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. Featuring multiple storylines, it's a departure from the focused three person narratives of both "Sister" and its predecessor, "Humpday." But there's no reason to suggest Shelton isn't game for this evolution. [Peter Knegt]
Director: Anne Fontaine
Cast: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frechevile
Release Date: premiering in the Premieres section at Sundance Jan. 18
Why Might It Be a Must See: Watts and Wright starring as lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s sons is about as alluring a set-up as a movie can have. That Oscar-winning “Dangerous Liaisons” and “A Dangerous Method” screenwriter Christopher Hampton engineered the script can only mean that the ladies engage in some dangerous (and dangerously sexy) doings. Fontaine directed the recent biopic “Coco Before Chanel,” but she’s also the co-writer-director of “Nathalie…,” which Atom Egoyan revamped as the erotic thriller “Chloe.” So consider this deck stacked. [Jay A. Fernandez]
Untitled David O. Russell Film
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: Some time in 2013.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Russell, one of American filmmaking's savviest and most compelling auteurs, has already told a telling true-life story with "The Fighter," and he returns to history again with a new film about the 1970s FBI sting operation Abscam. Abscam, which stands for Abdul scam, set up a fake operation led by a fictitious sheikh in which he offered politicians money and investments for asylum and aid in getting cash out of his country. With this film, from a script written by "The International" scribe Eric Singer, Russell returns with his old "Fighter" friends Adams and Bale and his "Silver Linings Playbook" star Bradley Cooper for what promises to be an interesting departure. [Bryce J. Renninger]
Untitled Laura Poitras Film (Trilogy Part III)
Director: Laura Poitras
Distributor: None yet
Release Date: Set to debut at festivals later this year.
Why Might It Be a Must See: One of America's most impressive documentary filmmakers is back with the third in her post-9/11 films. The first two, Oscar-nominated "My Country, My Country" and "The Oath" are two of the most captivating and shocking documentaries about the War on Terror produced. This third film, previewed at last year's Whitney Biennial and on the New York Times, tracks the NSA's domestic spying operation in the U.S. [Bryce J. Renninger]
Director: Shane Carruth
Cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz
Distributor: The filmmaker's company erbp
Release date: April 5
Why Might It Be a Must See: No matter how many times one watches Shane Carruth's 2004 debut feature "Primer," the writer-director-star's head-spinningly audacious time travel movie, it's still one of the most cryptic science fiction movies ever made. After the film's Sundance triumph and subsequent landing of cult appeal upon its release, Carruth went off the grid…until now, with a similarly cryptic relationship story about a pair of character trapped in an ageless organism, or something like that. Early buzz for the movie suggests that it's a genuine head-scratcher, which in this case could be a very good thing. [Eric Kohn]
"Venus in Fur"
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Emmanuelle Seigner and Louis Garrel
Distributor: None yet.
Release Date: Probably sometime in the fall to capitalize on awards season.
Why Might It Be A Must See: Roman Polanski is set to follow up his claustrophobic film adaptation of the award-winning play "Carnage," with yet another claustrophobic film adaptation of an award-winning play; this time the erotic two-hander "Venus in Fur." If there's a director that knows a thing or two about being holed up in a confined space for a prolonged amount of time, it's Polanski, who hasn't returned to the United States following his sex incident with a minor in 1978. He's mined that aspect of his life for much of his recent output, including "The Pianist," "The Ghost Writer" and "Carnage." Fans of "Venus in Fur" -- which began off-Broadway before moving onto the Great White Way" -- expecting a straight up film adaptation will be in for a surprise. In a nice twist, Polanski chose to shoot the film in French, and cast his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, an actress almost 20 years older than Nina Arianda who originated the same role and bagged a Tony for her efforts. The film (like the play) centers on a desperate actress who tries her darnedest to win over an aloof director. [Nigel M. Smith]
Director: Jonathan Levine
Release date: February 1
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich
Why Might It Be a Must See: Early February is a tough time for studio movies, but this adaptation of Isaac Marion's novel may provide a welcome alternative. The movie revolves around a woman who falls in love with the zombie who killed her boyfriend, it turns out that newfound affection might bring the walking dead man back to life. A hip, uplifting alternative to the usual grim nature of zombie survival narratives, the premise of "Warm Bodies" has been realized by Levine, whose trio of features -- the unreleased horror-drama "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," the coming-of-age stoner dramedy "The Wackness" and last year's acclaimed cancer comedy "50/50" -- display impressive range. Levine has a penchant for lovable characters and an ability to upend genre expectations. And it's about time somebody did that for the zombie genre, which by this point has been done to death. [Eric Kohn]
"Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington"
Director: Sebastian Junger
Release Date: mid-April; also screening at Sundance Jan. 20 in the Documentary Premieres section
Why Might It Be a Must See: The film is a eulogy of sorts for Junger’s colleague and collaborator Hetherington, a courageous photographer who was killed in 2011 while covering the civil war in Libya. The two shared the grand jury prize for documentary feature at Sundance in 2010 with “Restrepo,” their striking look at a year in the life of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. This new film looks at Hetherington’s devoted lifelong effort to document the humanity struggling to survive in the planet’s worst war zones. It may resonate with American moviegoers exhausted by the seemingly endless battles consuming much of the globe as well as America’s own war adventures of the past decade, and who are looking for some greater meaning in the tragedies. [Jay A. Fernandez]
"The Yes Men Are Revolting!"
Director: Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonano
Distributor: None yet.
Release Date: Set to debut at festivals later this year.
Why Might It Be a Must See: Festival favorites The Yes Men will return with the third film documenting their anti-corporate anti-globalization hijinks later this year. Speaking with Indiewire, the duo promised that the focus of this film would be climate change and that they are intent on growing the influence of their activist training ground, the Yes Lab, with an online component that trains activists to produce media-friendly actions. [Bryce J. Renninger]
"The Zero Therorem"
Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton, David Thewlis
Distributor: none yet
Release Date: none yet
Why Might It Be a Must See: Well, the cast is chock full of interesting actors, and Gilliam is a master of the cinematic bizarre, so this story of a computer hacker trying to discover the reason for human existence while dealing with the constant obstacles thrown in his way should at least engage the mind. But really, the nature of “Zero Theorem,” from first-time screenwriter and university professor Pat Rushin, remains a total mystery. Gilliam may have a spotty record with audiences, but curiosity about that mystery and how it unfolds is its biggest selling point. [Jay A. Fernandez]