Though the annual Sundance Film Festival has been home to all kinds of movies, the independent film haven has premiered a surprisingly complete roster of the past few decades’ best examples of a genre more often associated with big budgets and Hollywood studios: the thriller. Featuring a young and hungry assortment of the movie world’s biggest stars and most respected filmmakers, these ten wildly original thrill rides launched careers into the realm of superheroes and Oscar wins.
Aaah… the great American outdoors. It can sure be beautiful, but beware: The further afield you get, the harder it is to find help. Help with what, you may ask? Just ask the boys from DELIVERANCE, currently playing on the Sundance Channel: deviant lunatic hicks, o’course!
(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
It’s always exciting, and sexy, to watch a star break away from the pack. This generation’s budding bombshell is Jennifer Lawrence, who is poised to capture hearts everywhere with the release of THE HUNGER GAMES on March 23rd. If there are people still unfamiliar with her, that’s soon to change. At 21, she already graced the cover of Vanity Fair’s 2012 Hollywood issue, has an Oscar nomination under her belt for WINTER’S BONE, and engaged in a fictitious rivalry with the reigning queen of young romance, Kristin Stewart. It takes a rare combination of talent, beauty, and style to accomplish all that. But the natural blonde-turned-brunette can make a side ponytail look effortlessly attractive, or an up-do irresistible. Jennifer’s sophisticated fashion choices makes heads turn, blogs tumble, and tweets… re-tweet. Check out how her style has evolved below and in our Career Evolution: Jennifer Lawrence.
Last night I ventured out to see XMEN: FIRST CLASS. It’s a big, big world. Its cast? Many arrived by way of much smaller worlds. As I watched, it struck me: What artist gets to participate in such completely different modes of making other than the film actor, who, if lucky and smart, goes from Hollywood to Indiewood or vice versa? A musician may be the closest – from orchestra to a more edgy or experimental gig? But an orchestra ain’t Hollywood. A new media artist who moonlights at Microsoft or Google? Nope, not art. Maybe XMEN isn’t art either – but the actor brings the same set of tools to the table when approaching something like XMEN or a teeny tiny film, in order to make his or her… art. Two of the XMEN stars are recent graduates of indie hits. Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) starred in the Sundance film WINTER’S BONE, wherein she brought nuance and grace to her role as Dee. Michael Fassbender has the bigger role in this big world, though, as the tortured Magnito. Fassbender recently starred as a duplicitous and ethically-challenged player-bloke in Andrea Arnold’s coming of age story FISH TANK, and he brought a great sense of humanity to his Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s excellent JANE EYRE. He’s also listed on imdb as one of the stars of Jim Jarmusch’s next film. How must it be to coexist in these worlds?
Director Drake Doremus accepts the Grand Jury Prize: U. S. Dramatic for ‘Like Crazy’ at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony at Basin Recreation Field House on January 29, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images)
And the winner is… Drake Doremus’ LIKE CRAZY, which was just awarded the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s awards ceremony.
The film arrived at Sundance with tremendous buzz—Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan was particularly laudatory—and went on to be rapturously received. It was quickly picked up for distribution by Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush for $4 million, a sale that kicked off a week-long flurry of deals and acquisitions, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Park City since the 1990’s.
Along the way, there were other films that captured audiences’ hearts—MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE; HIGHER GROUND; THE GUARD—but LIKE CRAZY, which stars up-and-comers Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as college students in Los Angeles whose romance is interrupted by the INS (Jones plays a Brit who overstays her visa), was a persistent favorite throughout the week, thus its win is not much of a surprise.
Still from Debra Granik’s WINTER’S BONE. As the number of movie deals at Sundance continues to add up–there have been about 30 so far–and the indie film world rejoices that the hard times are over, there’s one film that’s been hovering in the ether in Park City. It’s crept up on blogs, and in conversation,…
When I say that WINTER’S BONE has swept up since its debut in Park City, I’m not just tooting my own Sundance horn. This low-budget wonder has wowed audiences and critics alike in a big way, nabbing the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, along with a recent Best Film…
I live in a rural area, and as there happens to be more than one ‘small town’ film to choose from these days, I’m thinking about tiny communities in the middle of nowhere and the movies made about them. (Not that I can help thinking about where I live. You really, really cannot hide in a small town. No more walking the dog in my pajamas. No more hiding in the grocery store aisle – because they’ll damn well see you in the parking lot.) Two ‘small town, tragic life’ stories are gone in some areas, still around in others, but I got to see them both – WINTER’S BONE and GET LOW. Oh no.
Oh no. I thought I would love GET LOW. On paper, there’s a lot of good going on – an incredible cast, an indie period piece (rare), the promise of sentiment and wisdom but delivered slowly, cleverly, without the maudlin trappings of Hollywood. What happened? The premise is good enough – Tennessee hermit (Robert Duvall) attempts to stage his own funeral while still living. The performances indeed are very strong, particularly Duvall and Bill Murray as the opportunistic-but-still-lovable funeral director, who says “ass” every other line. But Sissy Spacek is totally underutilized – she simply has nothing to do but wipe away a tear or two. Oh, and she runs across a field at the end.