We’re Excited About These 11 Sundance Movies

Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures.
Would we want to join a frat with Nick Jonas? Is Lily-Rose Depp a star? Is Kristen Stewart our next great dramatic actress? These are some of the questions we're asking after perusing the slate of films at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The festival gets underway today in Park City, Utah, and we've picked 11 from the lineup that piqued our interest. They range from political fare, like a buzzy documentary about Anthony Weiner, to the truly bizarre, like the one that finds Daniel Radcliffe playing a dead body washed up on a shore. Refinery29 is headed to the high-altitude indie fest to debut our original series, The Skinny, from writer-director-actress Jessie Kahnweiler. It premieres here Jan. 27. For now, here are the movies we recommend keeping an eye on.
The Birth of a Nation: You may know Nate Parker from his turn as the romantic lead in 2014’s Beyond The Lights, but the multi-hyphenate quit acting until he could get this movie made, The Hollywood Reporter recently reported. He takes on the titles of writer, director, and star in this biopic of Nat Turner, who led a famous slave rebellion in 1831. While we’re engaged in a national debate about whose stories get told and recognized by Hollywood institutions, The Birth of a Nation feels like one of the festival’s most vital selections.

Certain Women
: Director Kelly Reichardt reunites with frequent collaborator Michelle Williams for this story about women in Montana. Williams plays one half of a married couple building a new home, while Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart both play lawyers. The former is dealing with a hostage situation and the other is involved with a ranch hand played by Lily Gladstone and teaching an adult education class. Now that’s a dream team of women.

: Christine Chubbuck was a TV news reporter who committed suicide on the air in 1974. Now her story is getting dramatized in Christine with Rebecca Hall portraying her. There is also a documentary at the festival about the same incident called Kate Plays Christine, which follows an actress, tapped to play Chubbuck, researching her life. Which film will be better? We don’t know yet, but both should shed light on this fascinating if tragic story.
The Fundamentals of Caring: This one is already heading to Netflix. Paul Rudd is Ben, a professional caregiver who goes on a road trip with one of his clients, an 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy (Craig Roberts). Selena Gomez pops up somewhere along the way in this movie from writer-director Rob Burnett, a former Letterman executive producer. Goat: Nick Jonas did the fraternity thing in this fall’s campy Scream Queens, but in Goat he’s getting serious about Greek life. Jonas stars in the film about frat hazing, which Sundance's director of programming told Entertainment Weekly is an "intense, at times horrific look at male masculinity.” The movie follows a 19-year-old Brad Land (Ben Schnetzer), who joins his brother's (Jonas) fraternity. It's based on the real-life Land's memoir. This should be a brutal one for the former teen idol.

Life, Animated: In 2014 Ron Suskind wrote a beautiful New York Times Magazine piece about how Disney helped his autistic son, Owen, communicate. Now there is a documentary about Owen’s story, which weaves in both original animation and clips from the Disney films. We can't read the article without sobbing, so we hope the film is just as weep-worthy.

Southside With You: We’re always in the mood for a good romance, but this one is no average meet cute. It follows the first date between Barack and Michelle Obama (Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter). It could very well be a pile of unbearable schlock. But how could we not be intrigued?

Swiss Army Man: What if you were alone on a deserted island and ended up finding the washed up body of Daniel Radcliffe? Would you become friends with it? This is the dilemma that Paul Dano faces in the bizarre tale from Daniel Schneinert and Daniel Kwan, who have directed music videos for The Shins and Passion Pit as The Daniels.
Weiner: Just when Anthony Weiner thought his scandalous days were behind him and was running for mayor of New York City, he allowed filmmakers to follow him around for a documentary about his rehabilitation. And then...he got himself embroiled in another sexting scandal. According to the New York Times, the film “overflows with juicy moments about” Weiner and also gives insight into how his wife, Huma Abedin, handled the second crisis. Expect it to be a point of discussion given Abedin’s relationship to Hillary Clinton and their similar experiences.

Yoga Hosers
: We’re mainly excited for this one to see what Lily-Rose Depp can do. Her dad Johnny also appears in this film from Kevin Smith, about two girls (the other one is played by Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith) trying to go to a party.

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