Sundance Hot List: 17 Market Titles Set to Heat Up the Fest

6:00 AM 1/17/2018

by Tatiana Siegel

A "f—ed up" thriller, spies and Shakespeare are among the topics in the projects poised to make waves in Park City.

'Assassination Nation,' 'The Catcher Was a Spy' and 'Ophelia'
'Assassination Nation,' 'The Catcher Was a Spy' and 'Ophelia'
Courtesy of Sundance

This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

 

  • Assassination Nation

    Endeavor Content

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Sam Levinson

    BUZZ "Polarizing." "Fucked up." Just a couple of the phrases buyers are using to describe Levinson's script. The official logline calls it "a thousand percent true story about how the quiet, all-American town of Salem absolutely lost its mind." Curiosity surrounding this film from the son of Barry Levinson is off the charts.

  • Burden

    CAA/Endeavor Content

    DIRECTOR Andrew Heckler

    BUZZ A Ku Klux Klansman (Garrett Hedlund) falls for a single mom (Andrea Riseborough) who forces him to confront his hatred. After leaving the Klan and with nowhere to turn, he is taken in by an African-American reverend (Forest Whitaker) and learns tolerance through their combined love and faith. Buyers are hoping for stirring, not schmaltzy. The film’s opening night slot would indicate the former.

  • The Catcher Was a Spy

    UTA

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Ben Lewin

    BUZZ Considered perhaps the most commercial film available (it originally was poised to debut at Toronto but wasn't ready in time), the Paul Rudd starrer chronicles the true story of Moe Berg, a major leaguer who lived a double life working for CIA precursor the OSS during World War II. Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels and Paul Giamatti also star.

  • Colette

    CAA/Endeavor Content

    DIRECTOR Wash Westmoreland

    BUZZ This depiction of the French author screams "Oscar bait" given star Keira Knightley's track record with period pieces (noms for Pride & Prejudice and The Imitation Game). And Westmoreland directed Julianne Moore to a best actress trophy for Still Alice.

  • Damsel

    Endeavor Content/ICM

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTORS David and Nathan Zellner

    BUZZ The brothers behind the quirky Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter return to Sundance with this drama about an affluent pioneer (Robert Pattinson) who ventures across the American Frontier to marry the love of his life (Mia Wasikowska). But the damsel-in-distress trope gets turned on its head.

  • The Happy Prince

    CAA

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Rupert Everett

    BUZZ Everett makes his feature directing debut in this drama that chronicles the final three years in the life of Oscar Wilde. The British actor, best known for roles in films such as My Best Friend's Wedding, wrote the screenplay and stars as well. Colin Firth and Emily Watson round out the cast.

  • Hearts Beat Loud

    Endeavor Content

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Brett Haley

    BUZZ The closing-night film features Nick Offerman as a Brooklyn dad who forms an unlikely songwriting duo with his college-bound daughter (Kiersey Clemons). The Parks and Recreation alum and Clemons both sing in the film.

  • I Think We're Alone Now

    CAA/Endeavor Content

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Reed Morano

    BUZZ The Emmy-winning Handmaid's Tale helmer tackles a post-apocalyptic world where Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning are the only two remaining. Or are they? Expect Handmaid's Tale fans to clamor for this similarly brooding dystopia.

  • A Kid Like Jake

    CAA

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Silas Howard

    BUZZ The Transparent helmer takes on a family drama that centers on a couple (Claire Danes and Jim Parsons) who struggle to get on the same page when their 4-year-old, Jake, embraces female interests.

  • Leave No Trace

    Endeavor Content

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Debra Granik

    BUZZ Granik, whose 2010 Winter's Bone nabbed a best picture Oscar nom, is back with a drama starring Ben Foster as a reclusive father on the run with his 13-year-old daughter. It bows in the Premieres section, where contenders Call Me by Your Name, The Big Sick and Mudbound debuted in 2017.

  • Lizzie

    Endeavor Content/Gersh

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Craig William Macneill

    BUZZ Based on the famed murder of Lizzie Borden's family in Fall River, Mass., in 1892, this Heavenly Creatures-esque psychological thriller goes beyond the legend to reveal the much more complex titular protagonist (Chloe Sevigny) and her intimate bond with the family's young Irish housemaid, Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart).

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post

    Endeavor Content/UTA

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Desiree Akhavan

    BUZZ Sundance alum Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior) returns with a comedy about a teen girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) grappling with her sexual identity. Promiscuous prom queens plus gay conversion therapy should add up to laughs. Sasha Lane, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr. and Forrest Goodluck also star.

  • Ophelia

    CAA

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Claire McCarthy

    BUZZ Can Daisy Ridley bring in even a fraction of the Star Wars fandom for this empowered spin on Shakespeare's Hamlet, in which the previously passive Ophelia takes a page from Rey's playbook? Buyers seem to think so, if the film is well executed. Naomi Watts and Clive Owen co-star.

  • Sorry to Bother You

    Endeavor Content

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Boots Riley

    BUZZ Riley makes his feature directing debut in a film set in an alternate present-day version of his native Oakland, California, where a black telemarketer (Sundance regular Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key that gives him kick-ass selling skills but propels him into a macabre universe.

  • The Tale

    ICM

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Jennifer Fox

    BUZZ With #MeToo now embedded in the national psyche, this film might prove to be the festival's most relevant, centering on a woman (Laura Dern) who is forced to reexamine her first sexual relationship and the stories women tell themselves in order to survive. Elizabeth Debicki, Common and Jason Ritter also star in the film, based on writer-director Fox's real-life experience.

  • White Fang

    UTA

    Courtesy of Sundance

    DIRECTOR Alexandre Espigares

    BUZZ This animated kids' pic — based on the Jack London classic about a wolf torn between domestication and life in the wild — is playing in the same slot as the acclaimed Eagle Huntress did in 2016. Rashida Jones, Eddie Spears, Offerman and Giamatti provide the voices.

  • Wildlife

    Endeavor Content

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    DIRECTOR Paul Dano

    BUZZ Dano makes his helming debut with an adaptation of Richard Ford's acclaimed novel (Dano and partner Zoe Kazan wrote the screenplay). Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan star as a couple whose marriage falls apart amid infidelity.