Top 10 Most Anticipated Films at Sundance 2024 – Cinema in the Snow | FirstShowing.net

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films at Sundance 2024 – Cinema in the Snow

by Alex Billington
January 16, 2024
Source: Sundance.org

It’s January again, which means it’s time for yet another Sundance Film Festival. The 2024 festival is about to kick off in a few days, and FS is back in Utah, ready to start watching. Ready to dive into the enthralling line-up of new films this year. This is the 18th time we have covered Sundance, ever since 2007, bringing attention to good films and the festival experience. I am always looking forward to wading through all the good films the fest. Packing in as many as I can catch. Out of the 90+ films showing at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, I’ve picked 10 films that I’m looking forward to the most. To keep things well balanced, I’ve chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. For 2024, the fest has once again programmed a compelling selection of unknown directors, first-time filmmakers, and potential hits that could breakout. As usual with Sundance, you never can really tell what’ll good or bad before watching anything, but here’s my early picks anyway. I recommend adding these 10 films to your festival schedule / or to your watchlist.

For the full line-up of films showing at Sundance 2024 – click here. Follow my reviews on Letterboxd. This will be my 18th year in a row covering Sundance, starting back in 2007 then ever since. I’m still excited to be watching the latest indie films, even from afar, and I’m hoping there’s some good discoveries despite the chaotic times we’re living in. The fest is just about to begin, here’s my Top 10 most anticipated 2024 films.

Alex’s Most Anticipated ~Sundance 2024~ Feature Films:

Exhibiting Forgiveness
Exhibiting Forgiveness
Directed by Titus Kaphar

This is perhaps my most anticipated film at Sundance 2024 because it really feels like it’s going to be one of this year’s cinema gems that will go on to have a beautiful life beyond the festival. It’s the feature directorial debut of an artist named Titus Kaphar, starring André Holland, John Earl Jelks, Andra Day, and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. What it’s about: “Utilizing his paintings to find freedom from his past, a Black artist on the path to success is derailed by an unexpected visit from his estranged father, a recovering addict desperate to reconcile. Together, they learn that forgetting might be a greater challenge than forgiving.” Yep that sounds like it’s going to be a winner. Sundance adds: “this soulful, sophisticated, and beautifully crafted debut feature blossoms a hard-to-tell story about destructive parenting, the seasons of angst weathered by an abused child becoming a successful human being, and the deep meaning and salve of creative practice.” I’ve heard enough! I’ve got my ticket, ready to watch this with the Sundance audience at the world premiere.

Love Me
Love Me
Directed by Sam Zuchero & Andy Zuchero

This is my favorite “wait, what?!” film of the festival line-up this year (since there’s quite a few). Here’s the synopsis: “Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love.” Okayyy I’m sold. I’ll be at the world premiere. I have to find out what this is, I have to see where story goes, I have to see how they visualize this in a film. The strange thing is it’s not just beeping machines, there are actors playing the two main roles: Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun. I’m not sure which is playing which, the satellite or the buoy, but I’m intrigued to find out and watch their performances. Sundance drops this nice tease: “[the film’s] whimsically philosophical, shape-shifting structure ingeniously weaves together the real, the virtual, and the surreal.” Adding that after collecting data for all these years: “Awash in these mediated experiences and fabricated expressions of love and identity, they yearn to understand who they are, whether their feelings are real, and for that matter, whether they are real.” My kind of intelligent cinema – can’t wait.

My Old Ass
My Old Ass
Directed by Megan Park

Another favorite Sundance trope is: a stuck-in-life character reexamines themselves after going through a major (and usually hilarious) mind-opening experience. This one sounds like a fun one: “The summer before college, bright-yet-irreverent Elliott comes face-to-face with her older self during a mushroom trip. The encounter spurs a funny and heartfelt journey of self-discovery and first love as Elliott prepares to leave her childhood home.” So it’s about a woman encountering her older self and ending up on a coming-of-age love story journey. It could perhaps be another a lo-fi sci-fi concept, similar to the Sundance 2021 film How It Ends, but it actually just seems like another drug trip film with all the usual rediscover-yourself bells and whistles. Sundance adds this tidbit about the cast that should convince anyone to watch: “Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza have a terrific unlikely chemistry, as the sass and self-assuredness of the young Elliott, as played by Stella, blends and overlaps with Plaza’s sardonic humor as a more mature Elliott.” Yep I’m there.

Thelma
Thelma
Directed by Josh Margolin

A 93-year-old gets revenge! Ha! I’m all for this, it sounds like such a fun time, just the kind of film we all need right now. June Squibb taking on her first lead role in her very long career as an actor is incredible! I’m still amazed that this is even true. “When 93-year-old Thelma Post gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her.” Best part about this is it’s inspired by the filmmaker’s own grandmother, named Thelma, though I’m not quite sure if that actually means she went out for revenge and found the guys who scammed her, too. This is beginning a pretty common plot (Jason Statham’s The Beekeeper is also about him getting revenge on old person scammers) but I have a very good feeling this film is going to handle it just right, letting the actual elderly person (who got scammed) be the star of the show as she goes out on her own to make her mark. I definitely won’t be missing this – I think audiences at the festival are going to flip for this film, too.

Sasquatch Sunset
Sasquatch Sunset
Directed by David Zellner & Nathan Zellner

Wait, what?! A whole film about a Sasquatch family? With people in suits playing the Sasquatches the entire time? Get out of here! This is the kind of weird, wacky, have-to-see-it Sundance film that I love discovering and experiencing with an audience during the festival. The description is purposefully vague: “A year in the life of a singular family.” But early word is that it is as bonkers as we’re all hoping, and sticks close to the premise. More from one early review: “Sasquatch Sunset may be entirely conveyed through errant grunts, failed sexual overtures, and prolific amounts of pissing and shitting, but it somehow manages to cohere into a heartbreaking — and all too human — story about a species oblivious to its own demise.” If you need any more convicning this is worth seeing, the family of Sasquatches is played by actors Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Nathan Zellner, and Christophe Zacaj-Denek – all completely unrecognizable under their make-up and costumes. Yes, for the whole film. Yep, I’ve got my ticket for the premiere already ready to go.

Other Feature Films I’m Looking Forward To: The Outrun with Saoirse Ronan, Steven Soderbergh’s Presence, Thea Hvistendahl’s Handling the Undead, Jane Schoenbrun’s I Saw the TV Glow, the midnight horror In a Violent Nature, Krazy House with Nick Frost & Alicia Silverstone, Realm of Satan, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Rob Peace, Mikko Makela’s Sebastian, Stress Positions, Suncoast, Tendaberry, The Moogai, The American Society of Magical Negroes (view a trailer), Freaky Tales, A Different Man with Sebastian Stan.

Alex’s Most Anticipated ~Sundance 2024~ Documentaries:

A New Kind of Wilderness
A New Kind of Wilderness
Directed by Silje Evensmo Jacobsen

I am a HUGE fan of the Sundance 2016 film Captain Fantastic, it’s one of my all-time favorites for many reasons (my original review). It seems a bit of an obvious pick for Sundance to now program A New Kind of Wilderness, which sounds exactly like the real-world documentary version of Captain Fantastic, and that’s why it’s one of my most anticipated docs. A family with a bunch of kids living off-the-grid (in Norway) on a sustainable, grow-everything-yourselves lifestyle must deal with life-changing upheaval when one of the parents passes away. Yeah this is exactly what Captain Fantastic is like, but I’m especially interested to see how an actual, real family deals with this and what insight the film will offer as it follows them through this moment in their lives. The Sundance description makes it sound like it’ll be an emotional experience. “[Director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen] crafts a sensitive, affectionate, and completely heartfelt experience that is as much about navigating grief as it is about graciously accepting change.” It’s one of my must watch docs.

Every Little Thing
Every Little Thing
Directed by Sally Aitken

I have no idea what this film is going to be like or what it’s going to show us, but a documentary about how hummingbirds have changed one woman’s life? Yeah I’m intrigued. I want to find out more. The initial Sundance intro: “Amid the glamour of Hollywood, Los Angeles, a woman finds herself on a transformative journey as she nurtures wounded hummingbirds, unraveling a visually captivating and magical tale of love, fragility, healing, and the delicate beauty in tiny acts of greatness.” They have only released this one hazy, glitzy image (seen above) of the hummingbird, so it’s really hard to tell where this film where go or what else it’s going to explore in its 93 minute runtime. But I want to be there at the premiere to find out, it might be another sensational, life-affirming doc just like last year’s Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (which I also highly recommend discovering). The birds even have names: “The viewer becomes emotionally invested in Cactus, Jimmy, Wasabi, Alexa, and Mikhail, celebrating their small victories and lamenting their tiny tragedies.”

Never Look Away
Never Look Away
Directed by Lucy Lawless

This film wins the award for 2024 for having the greatest got-your-attention promo images. The couple of shots they’ve released for Never Look Away are all I need to be convinced that this is a must see doc at Sundance 2024 (which is why the teaser image at the top of this article is one of these images). Kiwi actress Lucy Lawless (who was the original “Xena: Warrior Princess”) is making her directorial debut profiling an intrepid journalist. “New Zealand–born groundbreaking CNN camerawoman Margaret Moth risks it all to show the reality of war from inside the conflict, staring down danger and confronting those who perpetuate it.” I’m always fascinated by stories like this, about incredibly brave people doing incredibly brave things, especially journalists who risk it all to cover important stories. The Sundance intro makes it sound like a profound film about more than journalism: “Lawless creates a distinctively female, Kiwi lens to cover this titanic career, showing both the horrors & life-affirming dimensions of war from a woman’s point of view.”

Black Box Diaries
Black Box Diaries
Directed by Shiori Ito

I’m interested in this one solely from the description and also that it sounds like it’s going to an important, powerful film retelling a major #MeToo story. Here’s the initial intro: “Journalist Shiori Ito embarks on a courageous investigation of her own sexual assault in an improbable attempt to prosecute her high-profile offender. Her quest becomes a landmark case in Japan, exposing the country’s outdated judicial and societal systems.” It’s the story of the woman at the center of Japan’s #MeToo movement. Not only is it telling her entirey story in complete, unfiltered detail, it’s also directed by Shiori Ito herself, which hopefully means she will dig deep into showing us just how hard it is to confront patriarchy. This line from Sundance is what should make anyone want to watch this: “it is an impressively crafted, concise piece of filmmaking — guided by a strong sense of purpose and broken up by occasional moments of joy. Ito came forward to challenge her high-profile abuser despite knowing the risks.” this film’s premiere is going to be an emotional experience.

Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story
Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story
Directed by Ian Bonhôte & Peter Ettedgui

Early word is that this is going to be one of the best documentaries at Sundance 2024, right up there with last year’s Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie. It’s not as if we haven’t heard Christopher Reeve’s story, everyone knows what happened to him, and he made many, many appearances over the years before passing away in 2004. However, my hope is that this film expands upon his story, adding to it by giving us a more intimate, and more honest examination of his unique life than ever before. This seems to be the case, as the Sundance description hints at exactly that idea: “Never-before-seen home movies and extraordinary personal archives reveal how Christopher Reeve went from unknown actor to iconic movie star as the ultimate screen superhero. He learned the true meaning of heroism as an activist after suffering a tragic accident that left him quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.” This doc film is also not available to view online at all during the online portion of the festival, so it’s an important must-see-while-at-Sundance experience.

More Docs I’ll Be Watching: Amanda McBaine & Jesse Moss’ Girls State, Benjamin Ree’s Ibelin, Yance Ford’s Power, Skywalkers: A Love Story, moth doc Nocturnes, Bhutan’s Agent of Happiness, J.M. Harper’s As We Speak, Chris Smith’s music biopic Devo, Emily Kassie & Julian Brave NoiseCat’s Sugarcane, Luther: Never Too Much, Union about unionizing at Amazon, Johan Grimonprez’s Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat.

For ALL of Alex’s Sundance 2024 updates: follow @firstshowing or follow @alexb.bsky.social

For more Sundance 2024 previews around the web, highlighting early picks and potential breakouts, also see: The Film Stage’s 20 Most-Anticipated Premieres, Indiewire’s 26 Must-See Films at This Year’s Festival, Rolling Stone’s 20 Most-Anticipated Movies from Sundance 2024, and also Nylon’s The 13 Most Anticipated Films of Sundance 2024. You never know what might be a big hit, and it’s vital to have a pulse on the early buzz – even before the fest starts. There’s plenty of intriguing films found in the selection this year, tons of discoveries from first time filmmakers and up-and-coming talent, so let’s jump right in and start watching.

You can follow our Sundance 2024 coverage and reviews right here and on Alex’s Letterboxd. The festival begins on January 18th and runs until January 28th, with films premiering online + locally. Glad to be back.

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