If you want a sneak peek at the movies you’ll care about tomorrow — from the blockbusters to the career-makers to the Oscar contenders — movie fanatics know that the first place to look is the Sundance Film Festival. Now the celebrated institution that unveiled “Precious” and “(500) Days of Summer” earlier this year has unveiled the next class of potential classics — and it includes new films from the likes of Kristen Stewart, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman and Orlando Bloom.
The Sundance Institute announced their lineup Wednesday for the 2010 Film Festival, to be held in Park City next month from January 21st to 31st. The complete list of films is available at their Web site, but here are some of the highlights that you can bet MTV will be all over when our feet hit the snow-soaked sidewalks outside the fest’s screening rooms:
“Welcome to the Rileys” – Twilighters have been tracking the development of this film, starring Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo, ever since it was shot in New Orleans earlier this year. Besides the obvious reasons they’d be excited to see a KStew flick, among the more notable details is the fact that Stewart plays a prostitute and stripper, and might even reportedly get nude. Making its world premiere at Sundance, “Rileys” will mark KStew’s third consecutive year with at least one film at the Fest.
“Blue Valentine” – Ryan Gosling always chooses interesting projects, and Michelle Williams has kept a low profile since Heath Ledger passed away during Sundance 2008. Now these two actors, considered among the finest in their generation, return with this drama depicting a married couple through cross-cuts between various tumultuous periods in their relationship.
“Hesher” – At the beginning of this year, Joseph Gordon-Levitt arrived at Sundance with “(500) Days of Summer” and ended up launching the buzz for one of the 2009’s most critically and financially successful films. Now he’ll try to keep the momentum going opposite Natalie Portman and “The Office” star Rainn Wilson in this quirky flick about an anarchical trickster who descends on a grief-stricken family. Cast as a greasy-haired, homemade-tattoo-bearing antisocial guy, don’t be surprised if Gordon-Levitt reinvents himself in a major way with the role.
“The Dry Land” – Wilmer Valderrama stakes his claim to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor in this flick about a U.S. soldier who returns home to Texas, struggling to leave his war life behind. “Ugly Betty” breakout America Ferrera will also be getting gritty in the indie film, which could strike a timely chord in the wake of President Obama’s announcement this week that 30,000 additional U.S. troops will soon be joining the effort in Afghanistan.
“Holy Rollers” – Thanks to “Zombieland,” Jesse Eisenberg is finally a household name. Now the young star brings his stammering, endearing persona to this dark comedy about a Hasidic Jew who dreams of becoming a drug dealer. The unlikely assembled supporting cast includes Justin Bartha, Hallie Kate Eisenberg and … Q-Tip?
“Howl” – Ever since James Franco broke the news to MTV that he’d be playing legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg, we’ve had our eye on the latest boundary-breaking project from one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic stars. Co-starring David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels, the film depicts a young Ginsberg finding the narrative voice that would shape a huge segment of 20th-century counterculture, as well as the publish of his poem “Howl” and the obscenity trial that ensued.
“Sympathy for Delicious” – Mark Ruffalo makes his directorial debut with this darkly comedic flick about a DJ who becomes paralyzed and spirals downward into the slippery world of faith healing. Starring Orlando Bloom, Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis and Laura Linney, the film seems certain to be unlike anything you’ve seen before. And how often can you say that?
I’m excited for Hesher, Blue Valentine, and Howl.