This year marks the 30th anniversary of the now venerable Sundance Film Festival. Its adolescent years are over but as this year’s boisterous line-up shows, the festival isn’t ready to go quietly into middle age.
Indeed, there’s a lot to choose from the Sundance 2014, January 16-26. But if the early buzz is any indication, these hot tickets are guaranteed to keep you warm while festing on the outer edge of the polar vortex.
- God’s Pocket – John Slattery, well-known for his turn as the smooth-talking Roger Sterling on Mad Men, is making his directorial debut at this year’s festival with, “God’s Pocket,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, and Mad Men co-star, Christina Hendricks about a crime cover-up in a small town.
- Happy Christmas – Anna Kendrick is taking Sundance by storm this year starring in two films. “Happy Christmas” is the story of a young woman who moves in with her brother and his family after a hard break-up with her boyfriend, written and directed by Joe Swanberg, who also stars in the film alongside Lena Dunham, Melanie Lynskey, and Mark Webber.
- The Voices – Kendrick stars alongside Ryan Reynolds in the psychological thriller, “The Voices,” written by Michael R. Perry, directed by Marjane Satrapi, co-starring Gemma Arterton, and Jacki Weaver. The story follows Reynolds as a mentally unstable factory worker who begins hearing advice from his dog and cat.
- Listen Up Phillip – Also lighting up the screen in double-time is another “Mad Men” alum, Elisabeth Moss in “Listen Up Philip,” written and directed by Alex Ross Perry; with Jason Schwartzman, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, and Josephine de la Baume;
- The One I Love – This time around Moss co-stars with Mark Duplass, who is also executive producing, as a troubled married couple who make a desperate attempt to save their marriage over a weekend getaway; written by Justin Lader and directed by well-known author, Charlie McDowell.
- Whiplash – Heating things up to a beat is “Whiplash,” the story of a teenage drummer so determined to become a great jazz musician, he puts his life on the back burner pending his acceptance into his hard-driving mentor’s orchestra; written and directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, and Paul Reiser.
- Infinitely Polar Bear – Aptly titled for the freezing tundra that is Park City is “Infinitely Polar Bear;” the story of a bipolar father in the 1970’s, played by Mark Ruffalo, (“The Kids Are Alright”) trying to win his wife back by showing he can care for their two rambunctious daughters; starring Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide, Beth Dixon, and Keir Dullea; written and directed by Maya Forbes.
- Low Down – John Hawkes (“The Sessions”) is back this year in the much anticipated, “Low Down,” starring as the drug-addicted jazz pianist, Joe Albany, in 1960’s and 70’s Hollywood as told through the eyes of his onscreen daughter, Elle Fanning; co-written by Topper Lilien and Amy Jo Albany based on Amy Jo Albany’s memoir; directed by Jeff Preiss; starring Glenn Close, Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady, and Flea.
- Cold In July – If you need a cool-down after watching the above, check out, “Cold in July,” a hard-hitting drama about a small-town Texas man whose life unravels after killing an intruder in his home; co-written by Jim Mickle and Nick Damici based on Joe R. Landsdale’s novel and directed by Jim Mickle; starring Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Sam Shepard (“August: Osage County”), Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw, and Wyatt Russell.
- Camp X-Ray – Rounding out the top pics is “Camp X-Ray,” a dramatic feature written and directed by Peter Sattler and starring Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi, Lane Garrison, J.J. Soria, John Carroll Lynch; story follows a female soldier stationed in Guantanamo Bay who befriends a prisoner.