On Thursday, the 2016 Sundance Film Festival will begin and we will be on site in Park City, Utah, trying to cram as many movies in as humanly possible for the time we will be there. It’s fun! It’s cold! You feel sick a good portion of the time because of the altitude! And then, just as you start to acclimate to the altitude, it’s time to come back home. Alas.
Sundance has more, let’s say, “wild card” movies than most other film festivals. If I go to Toronto’s festival, well, I have a pretty good idea that I need to see The Martian. With Sundance, the movies aren’t as well known, haven’t really been seen before, and the daily buzz dictates what to see next. So, right now, I’m completely guessing with these five movies. But they at least look interesting. So, whatever! Here are the five movies we are most looking forward to at Sundance.
When I was a little kid, I remember hearing stories about Christine Chubbuck. There was no internet, so the story of the newscaster who shot herself live on air were just kind of passed along. For awhile, I wasn’t sure if it was true or not, but the story itself was at the same time sad and terrifying. Yes, this of course did happen (the footage was supposedly destroyed at her family’s request) and I hope that Christine (with Rebecca Hall playing Chubbuck) can bring humanity to something that for so long has been just the story of what happened on air that day.
Hey, Nick Jonas is in an independent film. Goat is about a young man who, still feeling the effects of an earlier unrelated assault, pledges his brother’s fraternity. The description on the Sundance website says that after he joins the fraternity, he is, “Swept up in a world of shotgunning beer, all-night ragers, and hooking-up with nameless coeds,” which sounds like the opposite of my fraternity experience. (I remember watching a lot of Boy Meets World.) Still, with fraternities in the news a lot lately for a host of bad reasons, this could be an interesting look into this world. And, hey, Nick Jonas is in this.
O.J.: Made in America
This is probably the least-likely entry on this list that I will actually get to see considering its seven-and-a-half hour running time. You know, I never really though I needed anything more out of the O.J. Simpson story, but then I watched six episodes of FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson and I realized I was wrong and apparently I need a lot more. And at that extreme running time, this ESPN documentary should cover just about everything.
“Do you want to see Weiner Dog?”
You see, this movie has such a fun name, it made me want to see it without knowing anything about it. And then I read about it and it’s directed by Todd Solondz and it stars Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig, and Danny DeVito and it’s about a wiener dog that makes people happy. I’m sure this will be weird but I want to see it. It will probably make me happy. (Or sad. Who knows?)
First, yes, the premise about a writer returning home after his mother falls ill does sound a bit like maybe a few other movies that have played at Sundance, oh, every year. But, here’s first time director Chris Kelly — currently a staff writer at Saturday Night Live — with a great cast that includes Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, and June Squibb. In a year that we see Adam McKay be nominated for an Oscar for directing The Big Short, it will be interesting to watch how another product of SNL starts his feature length directing career.
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.