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Sundance Wish List: 53 Films We Hope Will Head to Park City in 2017

As Sundance prepares to announce its first batch of programming titles, we unveil 53 titles we hope will make the cut and get their big bow in Park City come January.

“Rebel in the Rye”
Director: Danny Strong
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Zoey Deutch, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson, Brian d’Arcy James, Victor Garber, Hope Davis, Lucy Boynton
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: J.D. Salinger probably wouldn’t love the fact that someone’s making a movie about his formative years, but one could do a whole lot worse than being played by Nicholas Hoult. Award-winning screenwriter Danny Strong (you might also recognize him as Jonathan from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) makes his directorial debut, applying his talent for chronicling real life events to capturing just what has made “The Catcher in the Rye” an enduring classic. -LSM

“Roxanne, Roxanne”
Director: Michael Larnell
Cast: Nia Long, Mahershala Ali, Elvis Nolasco
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: This true story follows Lolita “Roxanne Shanté” Gooden, a fierce 14-year-old girl in New York City in the 1980s who was the first popular female hip hop artist. The film focuses on Gooden’s battle with adversity, fame and the dangers of the streets of the Queensbridge Projects. Starring Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards,” “Moonlight”) and produced by Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, “Roxanne, Roxanne” marks the second feature for director Michael Larnell following 2015’s “Cronies,” which was executive produced by Spike Lee. -GW

“State Like Sleep”
Director: Meredith Danluck
Cast: Katherine Waterston, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Danluck is pulling no punches here, as her feature is reportedly consumed with nothing less than “the basic need for human connection and love.” Bolstered by a stellar cast — including Katherine Waterston and Michael Shannon — the film follows life after tragedy, and even its heady synopsis hints that there is great joy to be found in the mystery. -KE

“The Strange Ones”
Directors: Christopher Radcliffe and Lauren Wolkstein
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, James Freedson-Jackson, Emily Althaus, Gene Jones, Melanie Nicholls-King
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: The ominous, unnervingly suspenseful story of two boys — supposedly brothers — who stir up suspicion when they stop for a dip in a motel swimming pool, Christopher Radcliffe and Lauren Wolkstein’s “The Strange Ones” is one of the most brutally effective short films of the last 10 years. Both directors are back for the feature-length version, which will be carried by “Magic Mike” star Alex Pettyfer and is sure to stretch the original plot in all sorts of dark new directions. -DE

Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Frankie Shaw, Miranda Richardson
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Green is another one of those Sundance regulars who seems to pop up on the slate in some capacity – be it as director, writer or producer – nearly every year, though it’s been awhile since he’s brought a directorial outing to the table. His Boston Marathon bombing drama, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as victim Jeff Bauman, seems to be the kind of “return to form” fans of his earlier work have been begging for during the very lean “The Sitter” and “Your Highness” years. -KE

“Thirst Street”
Director: Nathan Silver
Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Lola Bessis, Damien Bonnard, Esther Garrel
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Nathan Silver is one of the more prolific young filmmakers working in America today, having churned out a series of taut, engaging character studies in recent years, from 2014’s pregnancy drama “Uncertain Terms” to the drug abuse saga “Stinking Heaven.” But “Thirst Street” finds him leaving our borders for the first time, following an American flight attendant who falls in love with a Parisian bartender and gets drawn into a dark conspiracy. The cast includes a number of recognizable faces from the realm of small-scale festival breakouts, including Lindsay Burdge (“A Teacher”) and Lola Bessis (“Swim Little Fish Swim”), in addition to cinematography from “Heaven Knows What” DP Sean Price Williams. -EK

Director: Cory Finley
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Olivia Cooke
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: It’d be nice to see a return of the indie murder thriller, and playwright turned filmmaker Cory Finley’s project seems like one of the more promising possibilities.  The story is about two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut, who, after rekindling their friendship, learn that neither is what she seems to be… and that a murder might solve both of their problems. It’ll be great to see what Anya Taylor-Joy can do with a role like this after breaking through in “The Witch,” while it’ll be bittersweet to enjoy one last great performance from Anton Yelchin. The film was financed by June Pictures (Paul Dano’s upcoming directorial debut “Wildlife”) and produced by B Story. -CO

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Woody Harrelson
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Widely beloved for “In Bruges” (and widely forgiven for “Seven Psychopaths”), fiery British playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh has finished his third feature, and it’s virtually guaranteed to premiere in Utah next January. Less testosterone-driven than his previous stuff, “Three Billboards” tells the story of a Missouri mom (Frances McDormand) who very publicly calls out the local police chief (Woody Harrelson) for failing to find her daughter’s killer. Don’t expect them to reach a mutually satisfying compromise. -DE

Director: Jordan Ross
Cast: Eliza Taylor, Lena Headey, Ben Feldman
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: After three short films tackling various issues of troubled youth and violence, writer-director Jordan Ross gets his chance at a feature film with his debut “Thumper.” Eliza Taylor plays a rebellious new girl in town who hides a dangerous secret in a community troubled by drugs and violence. Lena Headey and Ben Feldman take a break from popular TV series to round out the supporting cast, making “Thumper” a no-brainer for Sundance. -ZS

"Trainspotting 2"

“Trainspotting 2”

“Trainspotting 2”
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly MacDonald
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: The sequel we never knew we really wanted until it arrived, “T2” looks to be even more insane and kinetic than the original film. Bonus points for reuniting the cast, 20 years later, and reminding us just what a gem Danny Boyle’s breakout film was. Choose life, indeed. -LSM

“The Trip to Spain”
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast:  Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Because in stressful times, nothing sounds more pleasant than escaping into the beautiful European countryside with two very funny gentlemen. Third in a series of quasi-documentaries directed by Winterbottom, the opportunity to see Coogan and Brydon eat their way through Cantabria, the Basque region, Aragon, Rioja, Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia sounds like the best sort of comfort viewing. -LSM

Director: Gerald McMurray
Cast: TBD
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: After producing the modern classic “Fruitvale Station,” McMurray is teaming up with executive producers Forest Whitaker and Reginald Hudlin for this drama about hazing at a historically black college. Not much is known at this stage, but it’s an extremely relevant topic, and if ready in time could add some interesting conversation to the Sundance mix. -LSM

Untitled David Lowery Film
Director: David Lowery
Cast: TBD
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: To be clear, all we know about this film is that it exists. Based on a tweet from filmmaker Andrew Droz Palermo (“Rich Hill”), we know that he, David Lowery, producer Toby Halbrooks (“Upstream Color,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), and producer James M. Johnston (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “Listen Up, Phillip”) are all involved. The image could be from Johnston and Halbrooks’ upcoming production, “Human People” (starring Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson), but Lowery’s connection to that project is unclear. No matter what, with all these folks on board, we are, too. -BT

Untitled Pat Healy Film
Director: Pat Healy
Cast: TBD
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Pat Healy has been a ubiquitous face on the festival circuit for years now, showing remarkable range: The actor has been a soft-spoken, would-be businessman in “Great World of Sound” and a crazed, desperate parent taking on a series of devilish dares in the dark comedy “Cheap Thrills,” but now he’s applying his sensibilities behind the camera. Not much is known about Healy’s directorial debut, but it is expected to be a dark comedy. Healy, who has worked with tonally adventurous filmmakers such as Craig Zobel and David Gordon Green, seems well-positioned to experiment with the genre; considering his compelling track record, this first feature will deserve attention right out of the gate. -EK

READ MORE: Sundance Institute Picks Up Two Academy Grants to Help Develop Underrepresented Filmmakers

Untitled Matthew Heineman Documentary
Director: Matthew Heineman
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Last year, Matthew Heineman’s Oscar-nominated documentary “Cartel Land” provided a bracing look at the inner circles of the Mexican drug war. Not much is known about Heineman’s followup, except that he has once again ventured into a dangerous land to peer beyond the headlines at a shocking problem. Expect another movie sure to stir up a dialogue about international conflict. -EK

“Where is Kyra?” (formerly “Beat Up Little Seagull”)
Director: Andrew Dosunmu
Cast: Michelle Pfieffer, Kiefer Sutherland
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Previously called “Beat Up Little Seagull,” Nigerian director Andrew Dosunmu’s latest feature is his hotly-anticipated followup to the Sundance-acclaimed “Mother of George,” a beautiful ode to immigrant life in Brooklyn. His new feature, produced by Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, marks a step in cast alone — it stars Michelle Pfieffer and Kiefer Sutherland, as a pair of lovers who try to stabilize their relationship while Pfieiffer’s character attempts to hide her grief over her mother’s passing. Pfieffer is overdue for a strong role, and Sutherland hasn’t been lighting up screens much these days either, but it seems as though they’ve found a terrific director on the rise to bring them the potential for an emotion look at the nuances of communication. -EK

Interested in our odds? Check out last year’s list. Not too shabby.

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19 – 29 in Park City, Utah.

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