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Sundance 2023 preview: 10 films we are excited to watch at this year’s festival

Images from Bad Behaviour, Still, and Landscape with Invisible Hand.
Bad Behaviour, Still, and Landscape with Invisible Hand will be at Sundance. Pic credit: Sundance Institute

It’s that time of year again. The festivities return to Park City, Utah, to witness one of the biggest film festivals in the U.S. The Sundance Film Festival kicks off tomorrow night and will showcase over 100 titles during the 10 days. What is more impressive, this year’s line-up is dominated mainly by women directors in all four categories.

The festival will also continue to be inclusive to audiences who cannot attend in person, offering online viewing for many titles throughout the festival. A blessing this writer, who is physically disabled, is grateful for.

We have narrowed down 10 picks we are excited to watch at Sundance 2023.

Of course, there are far more films we are excited about that can make up a list of forty or more choices. But to keep things simple, we have 10 movies that could offer the potential for greatness.

Before we get to our list, other films worth keeping on one’s radar include Sorcery, Run Rabbit Run, Animalia, Rye Lane, and so many more. As stated, this list could go on forever.

Here are 10 films we are excited to watch at Sundance 2023.

Magazine Dreams

Jonathan Majors in Magazine Dreams.
Jonathan Majors in Magazine Dreams. Pic credit: Sundance Institute/Glen Wilson

Starting off our Sundance list is a possible character study in the vein of films such as The Wrestler.

Hot Summer Nights director Elijah Bynum will debut his new film with Jonathan Majors as the headliner. This is bound to be the talk of the festival before Majors wrecks the Marvel Cinematic Universe next month in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

The film’s synopsis describes the film as follows:

Black amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection in this exploration of celebrity and violence.

The movie will premiere at the festival on January 20 at the Eccles Theatre, with additional showtimes throughout the festival, including an online opportunity on January 24.

Infinity Pool

The movie Possessor broke the mold back in 2020, proving Brandon Cronenberg is a visceral and terrifying filmmaker like his father. So, it’s no big shock to anyone that Infinity Pool has us foaming out our mouths to see what inventive visual horrors Cronenberg has in store for us with Infinity Pool.

The movie stars Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth, fresh off her breakout performance in both X and its sequel Pearl. The synopsis describes Infinity Pool as being about a couple who “are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation in the fictional island of La Tolqa when a fatal accident exposes the resort’s perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence, and surreal horrors.”

The film premieres during the Midnight line-up on January 22 at the Ray Theatre.

Shortcomings

Image from Shortcomings movie.
A still from Shortcomings by Randall Park, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Pic credit: Sundance Institute

Randall Park is one of the best comedic talents rising in the business. Between his role on Fresh Off the Boat, his leading man status in the romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe, and his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Jimmy Woo, Park has carved out a nice career path for himself. Naturally, the next step would be to exercise his directing muscles.

His directorial debut, Shortcomings, will land at Sundance and has an Asian-led cast of characters. Furthermore, the film sounds like a movie lover’s catnip as two of the main characters in the story are film buffs– with one character heavily into Criterion movies and another who works at a film festival.

The film based on Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel (also scripted by) is described as:

A trio of young Bay Area urbanites–Ben Tanaka, Miko Hayashi, and Alice Kim–as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships, traversing the country in search of the ideal connection.

Shortcomings premieres on January 22 at the Eccles Theatre, with additional dates throughout the festival to catch the movie, including an online offering on January 24.

Sometimes I Think About Dying

Daisy Ridley in Sometimes I Think About Dying.
Daisy Ridley appears in a still from Sometimes I Think About Dying. Pic credit: Sundance Institute/Dustin Lane

Since the pandemic, it seems most of us are still trying to flee our bubble of solitude. Sometimes I Think About Dying appears to draw inspiration from this notion as Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) plays a socially awkward character. The film is said to be a love story involving a character with social anxiety being charmed by a coworker trying to break her out of her shell.

Ridley serves as the project’s star and producer, and Canadian comedian Dave Merheje plays the leading man attempting to charm Ridley.

The film’s synopsis says the movie is about:

Fran, who likes to think about dying, makes the new guy at work laugh, which leads to dating and more, now the only thing standing in their way is Fran herself.”

Sometimes I Think About Dying will premiere at the Library Center Theater on January 19, with other screenings to follow, including an online option on January 24.

You Hurt My Feelings

Julia Louis-Dreyfus from You Hurt My Feelings.
A still from You Hurt My Feelings. Pic credit: Jeong Park/Sundance Institute.

Veep actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in this Sundance comedy about egos within relationships. Dreyfus is said to be playing a novelist who is endlessly working on a book that is a continuation of sorts of her successful memoir. Dreyfus is perfect for situational comedy with her background in series like Seinfeld and Veep.

Here, her character Beth is in shambles when she hears her husband Don voice his displeasure with the book. At this point, one can listen to the sounds of the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme jingle through the scene.

Here is the film’s synopsis:

A novelist’s longstanding marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book.

Nicole Holofcener directs the film, is co-writer of The Last Duel, and is the director of other films such as Enough Said (one of the last appearances by James Gandolfini) and Friends with Money.

You Hurt My Feelings will premiere at Sundance on January 22 at The Eccles Theatre, with various in-person screenings to follow.

Polite Society

In the spirit of Everything Everywhere All At Once comes Polite Society. This film is about a London student girl named Ria Khan trying to dismantle her sister’s wedding. The movie sounds like a clever blend of genres, including a heist film, a comedy, and a martial arts actioner. Simply put, count us in!

Here is the synopsis for Polite Society:

Ria Khan believes that she must save her older sister Lena from her impending marriage. After enlisting her friends’ help, she attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists, in the name of independence and sisterhood.

Polite Society will make its Sundance premiere on January 21 at the Ray Theatre, with various showtimes to follow.

Slow

Still from the movie Slow.
A still from Slow. Pic credit: Totem Films/Sundance Institute.

This writer is a person with a disability. As such, when a film promises to showcase or give representation to characters/actors of such category, we will highlight them. The film Slow promises to bring such a film to the festival as some of the movie, like CODA, involves sign language elements. Not to mention, an added romance is thrown into the mix.

Here is the synopsis:

Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy.

Slow is a part of the World Cinematic Dramatic category and will premiere at Sundance on January 21 at The Ray Theatre. The film will also be available to festival attendees online on January 24.

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

Michael J. Fox from the documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.
Michael J. Fox from the documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie. Pic credit: Apple Original Films/Sundance Institute

Continuing our spotlight on projects with films about subjects regarding limitations is the Michael J. Fox documentary premiering at the festival. The documentary is said to be a lively reexamination of Fox’s career through his own eyes as we, the audience, will see his underdog fight to become an actor, to becoming a movie icon in Back to the Future, and to fighting Parkinson’s at such an early age in his Hollywood career.

Davis Guggenheim brings the documentary to life following previous works such as An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman, and He Named Me Malala.

Here is the synopsis:

Follows the life of beloved actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, exploring his personal and professional triumphs and travails, and what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease.

The documentary will premiere at Sundance on January 20 at The Eccles Theatre.

Kim’s Video

Image from Kim’s Video. Pic credit: Sundance Institute

The documentary Kim’s Video caught our eye because it truly sounds like two things we love — mysteries and cinema. The documentary is an investigative procedural to track down a movie collection of 55,000 titles that were once products of a rental store called Kim’s Video.

After the legendary store closed, the collection was given in good faith to a successor who disappeared in the ethos of time. The description indicates director David Redmon hopes to uncover the long-lost collection.

Here is the synopsis:

Playing with the forms and tropes of various cinema genres, the filmmaker sets off on a quest to find a legendary lost video collection of 55,000 movies in Sicily.

Kim’s Video will be available for in-person and online viewing for festival attendees. The documentary will make its Sundance premiere on January 19 at Prospector Square Theatre.

Landscape With Invisible Hand

A still from Landscape With Invisible Hand. Pic credit: Sundance Institute

Who does not love a coming-of-age romance with an alien invasion in the background? The concept (based on an award-winning novel by M.T. Anderson) is a seductive draw for a crowd like Sundance.

The movie is directed by Cory Finley, who previously wowed Sundance audiences in 2017 with the indie darling Thoroughbreds. Finley has an eye for subversive narratives and strange characters written with love and detail, making Landscape With Invisible Hand a potential festival banger.

Here is the film’s synopsis:

A pair of teenagers come up with a plan to ensure their families’ futures when an occupying alien race’s promise of economic prosperity leaves most of humanity impoverished and desperate.

The film will hit Sundance on January 23 at The Eccles theater, with additional showtimes throughout the festival.

Bad Behaviour

Jennifer Connelly from Bad Behavior
Jennifer Connelly from Bad Behavior. Pic credit: Sundance Institute.

Festivals are the perfect place for an unlikely star to reengage with their indie spirit. Jennifer Connelly might be fresh off her box-office-smashing appearance in Top Gun: Maverick. But she has always gravitated toward interesting and more minor roles such as Requiem for Dream.

With Bad Behaviour, Connelly plays a character named Lucy, an actress pursuing wisdom from her guru (Ben Whishaw) at a retreat described as a Jack Dorsey-style getaway. But instead of finding zen, she finds another bad influence. This movie has so much potential, and we cannot wait to fall in love with Connelly’s madness.

Here is the synopsis:

The film is a dark comedy about Lucy (Connelly), a former child actress who seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon (Whishaw) while she also navigates the close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt performer daughter, Dylan (Englert).

The film will be available to festival attendees in-person and online, and it will premiere at Sundance at The Ray Theatre on January 22.

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