When the Sundance Film Festival is happening, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of the films worth looking out for-- even when you're actually there. But now that the dust has settled and Park City has gone back to being a pleasant mountain town, we can finally get a look at the films that made the biggest impact at the festival this year, and how audiences will be able to get a look at them in the coming year.
Not every film sold, of course, and there are plenty of films that earned attention-- like the Kathryn Hahn vehicle Afternoon Delight or Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael's Ass Backwards-- likely to find distribution in the coming weeks. But for now this is your best guide for how to see the festival's most talked-about films, with links to our own reviews when available. Most of them don't have set release dates, but you can generally expect a Sundance film with strong buzz to come out before the end of that calendar year. And a few of these, like Fruitvale and Ain't Them Bodies Saints, will probably be at least trying to be part of the awards conversation at the end of the year.
If you want to know more about this year's festival, you can click here to catch up with all of our coverage, or put your questions in the comments!
Ain't Them Bodies Saints?Distributor: IFC Films
The Lowdown: Directed by David Lowery-- a Sundance MVP who also co-edited Upstream Color and co-wrote Pit Stop-- and starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and Ben Foster, it's a lyrical Texas crime story with a huge, huge influence from Terrence Malick. Cinematographer Bradford Young won a Sundance jury prize for his work here, and Foster's supporting performance was also a festival highlight.
How You Can See It: IFC has a strong video-on-demand program, so while a theatrical release will likely be a focus, you'll probably be able to catch this on VOD as well-- and probably closer to to the end-of-year awards season.
Austenland?Distributor:Sony Pictures Classics
The Lowdown: Directed by Jerusha Hess, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite with her husband Jared, and produced by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, it's got an odd assembly of talent behind the scenes matches onscreen by the likes of Jennifer Coolidge, Keri Russell and James Callis in the cast. Russell stars as a Jane Austen-obsessed woman who travels to a retreat where she can act our her Regency fantasies.
How You Can See It: Sony paid a hefty $4 million for the rights, and Sony Pictures Classics will release domestically, though without a lot of critical buzz it's unclear how bright the film's future will be.
Before Midnight?Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
The Lowdown: Hugely anticipated before the festival by fans of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, it miraculously lived up to the hype and earned across-the-board raves-- including mine. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have done it again.
How You Can See It: It took a while for Sony to close this deal, so presumably they paid a high price and promised a prime release for the film. I'd imagine summer-- that's when Before Sunset came out, after all-- and with plenty of promotion.
Blackfish?Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
The Lowdown: A stirring and sometimes disturbing documentary about killer whales kept in parks like Sea World, it's the kind of movie that could inspire you to never go to Sea World again. That kind of controversy made it a popular option at the festival, and could garner a lot of interesting conversations upon release.
How You Can See It: Magnolia's strength in VOD probably means it will mostly be seen there, but if a controversy erupts, who knows what kind of theatrical release could happen.