Los Angeles — With Sundance Film Fest just hours from lighting up screens — there’s something more perceptibly INDIE about this year’s line-up than usual (hitting the big 3-0 maybe?) — surely adding to all the merrymaking that marks the annual film festivities.
Here’s my Top 10 film picks that will everyone buzzing in 2014:
Directors: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer
THE BUZZ: Already bought by UPI for territories including the U.K. & Germany — ‘Cooties’ is pegged as the breakout hit of the midnight section — plot centers around a mysterious virus that breaks out in a remote elementary school transforming students into freak zombies…
2.) Dear White People
Director: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Dennis Haysbert
THE BUZZ: A satire centered around four Black students attending an Ivy League College in the midst of a riot caused by a popular ‘African American’ themed party on campus.
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
THE BUZZ: A quirky bio-pic comedy starring Fassbender as mysterious 80’s pop singer Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom promises to be draw — even if I never heard of him.
4.) God’s Pocket
Director: John Slattery
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro
THE BUZZ: Wow — WHAT A CAST — based on the 1983 novel by National Book Award Winning author — Pete Dexter — this drama stars Hoffman as a man whose son dies in a supposed accident in the gritty blue-collar neighborhood of ‘God’s Pocket’.
Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell
THE BUZZ: A bit more commercial fare — this dark Dramedy stars Keira Knightley as a commitment-phobe who runs off to hang out with a 16-year old friend to stall on her decision after her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Sounds quirky.
Get the 1st look here: http://youtu.be/O6IRCBbGKCo
7.) Love Is Strange
Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei
THE BUZZ: Touching Dramedy about the consequences a gay couple — played by Lithgow & Molina — face when they tie the knot after 38 years together. Shot in Manhattan & Brooklyn also stars Marisa Tomei. Bring the tissue, chocolates, and Gummi Bears.
8.) The Skeleton Twins
Director: Craig Johnson
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
THE BUZZ: Estranged sibling twins cheat death on the same day without knowing it — karmic forces bring them back together to do some bitter-sweet soul-searching — especially about their love lives.
Click HERE: http://youtu.be/AnfPH8_e-jc to hear filmmaker Craig Johnson talk about his film ‘Skeleton Twins‘ premiering in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
9.) Song One
Director: Kate Barker-Froyland
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen
THE BUZZ: A touching drama set against the Brooklyn music scene sees Anne Hathaway play a woman who’s been estranged from her family but returns home after her brother suffers an accident that leaves in a coma — grasping to fill in the void left by time — she retraces her brother’s life as an aspiring musician and tracks down his favorite musician to vicariously make up for lost time through music. Definitely bring the tissue.
10.) Wish I Was Here
Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King
THE BUZZ: Braff’s much touted Kickstarter-funded Dramedy sees him playing a middle-aged husband, father, failed thesp, faced with the daunting task of home-schooling his kids.
Sundance Film Fest runs Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah — GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!