Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant

"The Immigrant"
Director: James Gray
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC
Release Date: TBD

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Labeled "the most divisive film in last year's Cannes competition" by Indiewire's Eric Kohn, James Gray's Marion Cotillard-starring period drama "The Immigrant" was among one of the most anticipated and ultimately debated films to play at the event. Beloved by many for what Kohn described as its "classical virtues" and derided by some who found the pacing too deliberate and the protagonist too opaque, "The Immigrant" was dropped by its original distributor The Weinstein Company, only to be picked up by its RADiUS label. The 1920s set drama stars Cotillard as Ewa, a Polish woman with a mysterious past who immigrates to New York in the hope of a better life for her and her sister. When her sibling is detained by authorities and confined after she shows signs of illness, Ewa meets a seedy show runner (Gray frequent collaborator Joaquin Phoenix), who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. With the money earned, Ewa hopes to free her sister and be reunited.

"I Origins"
Director: Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, Michael Pitt, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Archie Panjabi, Steven Yeun
Distributor: None as of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must-See: Mike Cahill's debut feature, the sci-fi "Another Earth" won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance ’11, and "I Origins" has already received the Sundance stamp of approval. Not only will it premiere at the upcoming fest, but the film also was the first-ever recipient of the Dolby Family Sound Fellowship. Cahill wrote, directed, produced and edited the film about a molecular biologist and his lab partner who discover evidence that could have dramatic implications for society. We're expecting some stunning visuals and impressive sound design.


Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Moretz, Mark Webber
Distributor: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival

Why It Might Be a Must-See: A new movie from "Humpday" filmmaker Lynn Shelton is always a welcome prospect, and "Laggies" finds the director working with her highest profile cast yet as well as making her first film penned by another screenwriter -- Andrea Seigel in her screenplay debut. Keira Knightley stars as a woman who, after her boyfriend (Mark Webber) proposes, lies about going on a business trip in order to spend time with her new teenage friend (Chloë Grace Moretz). Shelton's always been good about belated coming of age stories -- it should be fun to see how the often very grown up Knightley.

"Le Week-end"
Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum
Distributor: Music Box Films
Release Date: March 14

Why It Might Be a Must See: Last year’s "Before Midnight" ended with its feuding lovers imagining what it might be like to grow old together. While it involves a different set of characters, Roger Michell’s "Le Week-end" may answer that question anyway, as it involves a near-geriatric British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) wandering Paris on a vacation gone awry while going for the jugular in their arguments over the proper direction for their remaining lives. Michell's tender comedy-drama — written by "My Beautiful Laundrette" scribe Hanif Kureishi — gets under your skin with darkly amusing exchanges between the couple that marry the humor with a philosophical sadness and vice versa. Also featuring a naturally hilarious appearance by Jeff Goldblum as the Broadbent character’s more successful former colleague, "Le Week-end" is both a somber existential medication and a cynical rant, yet maintains a sense of levity as its stars gradually shed their problems and rediscover the romanticism that drew them together in the first place.

"Life Itself"
Director: Steve James
Cast: Roger Ebert, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese
Distributor: None as of yet
Release Date: Debuts at this month’s Sundance Film Festival and simultaneous live stream available to the film's Indieigogo backers

Why It Might Be a Must-See: It's the first-ever feature-length documentary on the life of Roger Ebert, which is enough of a reason for us to see it. But the fact that it's directed by Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and features interviews with filmmakers such as Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay and Martin Scorsese (who is one o the film's executive producers), elevates the film to must-see status. No doubt, it will cover Ebert's early days at the University of Illinois to his move to Chicago where he became the first critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, and then to his time on television where he became a household name alongside Gene Siskel. But we're most excited to see the way the film handles Ebert's "third act," when he overcome disabilities and became an important voice on social media, not to mention his ongoing love affair with his wife, Chaz Ebert.