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CINE-LIST’s Ten Most Anticipated Films at Sundance 2014

CINE-LIST's Ten Most Anticipated Films at Sundance 2014

TOH! heads to Sundance today, ready for the many offerings the festival has in store. What makes the shortlist of ten most anticipated films?

10. “The Better Angels.” Terrence Malick collaborator A.J. Edwards makes his feature
debut with this black-and-white period piece, set in 1817 Indiana, looking at
three years in the life of young Abraham Lincoln’s childhood. Malick’s visually
poetic influence is evident from the film’s released
clip (watch below).  Jason Clarke, Kate
Bosworth, Brit Marling and Wes Bentley star. (Section: New Frontier.)

9. “Happy Christmas.” Joe Swanberg knocked it out of the park with 2013’s
“Drinking Buddies,” and the prolific director’s follow-up film (or rather, one
of his many) is a pared-down Christmas tale shot on 16mm. Swanberg reunites
with Anna Kendrick (delightful in “Drinking Buddies”), and brings Lena Dunham
and the underused but always ace Melanie Lynskey into the fold. (Section: US
Dramatic Competition.)

8. “Appropriate
 Writer-director-star Desiree Akhavan follows up her comedic
web series “The Slope” with this portrait of an Iranian-American young woman
living in Brooklyn, trying to deal with the ex-girlfriend who broke her heart
(Rebecca Henderson), and coming out as
bisexual to her traditional parents. Programming director Trevor Groth has likened
Akhavan to last year’s triple threat Lake Bell. (Section: NEXT.)

7. “War Story.” The world needs more Catherine Keener. That is a given. So I’m excited to see her get some front-and-center attention in this story of
an American photographer adrift in Italy, snapping pics of refugees while
confronting her own melancholy. Ben Kingsley also stars. Director Mark Jackson was named by Filmmaker
Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” (Section: NEXT.)

6. “Dinosaur 13.” A documentary about the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton
ever discovered would already be interesting enough, but filmmaker Todd Miller
digs into the power clash surrounding the 1990 paleontological find. The FBI,
the National Guard, prestigious museums and Native American tribes are just a
few of the players competing for ownership against the paleontologists who
originally discovered the bones. (Section: US Documentary Competition.)

5. “Difret.” Angelina Jolie executive produced this drama following a
14-year-old Ethiopian girl, kidnapped into marriage, who stands on trial for
murdering her abductor — and would-be husband. A young woman defense lawyer
bravely takes on the girl’s case in writer-director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari’s
feature debut. (Section: World Dramatic Competition.)

4. “Love Child.” Documentarian Valerie Veatch (“ME @ THE ZOO”) turns her
camera on an upsetting case from 2010, where a South Korean couple became so
obsessed with online gaming they neglected to feed their infant child,
resulting in the baby’s death. Per the festival program notes, the doc looks
not only at the case but at the implications of internet addiction. Count my interest piqued. (Section: World Documentary Competition.)

3. “God’s Pocket.” John Slattery has directed some of the strongest episodes of
“Mad Men,” so I’m fascinated to see what he does with this feature debut.
Can’t beat the cast: Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Richard Jenkins, Christina
Hendricks, John Turturro and Eddie Marsan. The narrative follows the aftermath
of a suspicious construction accident in a working-class town. (Section: US
Dramatic Competition.)

2. “White Bird in a Blizzard.” Sundance alum Gregg Araki returns to more dramatic fare
(recalling the tone of “Mysterious Skin”) with this dreamy looking
portrait of a teen (Shailene Woodley) dealing with repressed memories of a traumatic event from
years earlier: Her mother (Eva Green) went mysteriously missing. Christopher
Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe and Thomas Jane also star. Watch the trailer, below. (Section:

1. “Listen Up Philip.” Alex Ross Perry’s previous feature “The Color Wheel” had
real bite — and a doozy of an uncomfortable ending. With that film, he
established himself as a director unafraid to push boundaries, so I can’t wait
to see what he does with pro actors (Elisabeth Moss and Jason Schwartzman), in
a tale of a narcissistic novelist who escapes the hubbub of New York to hole up
in an isolated summer home. (Section: NEXT.)

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