The most anticipated films at the Sundance Film Festival 2017

Published 10:38 am Monday, January 23, 2017

by Lauren Bradshaw

It’s that time of year again! I am back at the Sundance Film Festival in sunny (but cold) Park City, Utah and while I get settled into my condo and wait for the screenings to begin, I wanted to highlight some of the films I am most looking forward to at the Festival this year! This isn’t to say there won’t be surprises; there always are. Some of my favorite surprises over the past two years have been: “Sing Street,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and “Swiss Army Man.” And with the over 25 films I am going to try to catch while I am here, I can’t wait to report back on the hits and misses.

As I was writing this list, I kept adding and deleting films because there are just so many interesting movies. But now, without further ado, here are 10 films I am most excited for this year at Sundance!

“Wind River”

Writer/Director: Taylor Sheridan

Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal

“Wind River” is probably my most anticipated film at Sundance. I have loved every film Taylor Sheridan has written so far. Both “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water” were in my top three favorite movies of 2015 and 2016, respectively, so I am very excited to see Sheridan’s directorial debut. Sheridan is at the top of his game when it comes to thrillers, and based on the synopsis, it seems the film will be another murder mystery:

An FBI agent teams with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Sparse with details, just the way I like it! The fact that the film stars Elizabeth Olsen is only the cherry on top!

“Ingrid Goes West”

Director: Matt Spicer

Writer: Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell

I love movies about fame/Hollywood/Los Angeles, and this one looks to be a doozy.A young woman becomes obsessed with an Instagram “influencer” and moves to Los Angeles to try and befriend her in real life. Definitely a commentary on our current social media-obsessed culture … I can bet “Ingrid Goes West” is going to be an easy sell at the Festival, as well as a good movie to see if you want a laugh. Plus, another film with my favorite, Elizabeth Olsen AND Aubrey Plaza? Sign me up!

“A Ghost Story”

Writer/Director: David Lowery

Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara,

This “secretive” film marks Writer/Director David Lowery’s second film at Sundance, and a return to directing Casey Affleck (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”). There is little that is known about the film, but being a fan of Lowery’s work with “Pete’s Dragon” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” I am interested to see what this is about. The synopsis in Sundance’s Film Guide doesn’t tell us much … This is the story of a ghost and the house he haunts. Hmmmmm… .

“The Little Hours”

Writer/Director: Jeff Baena

Cast: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon

Jeff Baena is beginning to be a Sundance staple, with films “Life After Beth” (2014) and “Joshy” (2016). I interviewed Baena last year for “Joshy,” and was quick to to see how smart and funny he is. The promotional image for “The Little Hours” alone is eye-catching, and knowing some of my favorite comediennes will be playing nuns in a comedy makes this a can’t-miss. Since it is playing in the Midnight section, I can only hope/assume there is some sort of horror element. But the less I know, the better!

“The Discovery”

Writer/Director: Charlie McDowell

Co-writer: Justin Lader

Cast: Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough, Ron Canada

Charlie McDowell!!!! I am so, so excited for this film. I fell in love with Charlie McDowell’s brilliance when I watched the critically underrated “The One I Love” (available on Netflix Instant!) I have been waiting for his next film ever since, and am so excited to see “The Discovery.” As a science-fiction fan, the synopsis of this film sounds very intriguing: In a world where the afterlife has just been  scientifically proven — resulting in millions of people taking their own lives to get there — comes  this love story. With such an intriguing, creative premise, I think this film has the makings to be a hit at the Festival… and it also helps that it stars the big man himself, Robert Redford.


Writer/Director: Gillian Robespierre

Co-Writer: Elisabeth Holm

Cast: Jenny Slate, John Turturro, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock

So excited Sundance has given a voice for female filmmakers, especially Gillian Robespierre. Robespierre’s film “Obvious Child” was one of my favorites in 2014, and I am excited she has again joined with Jenny Slate to bring a film to the big screen. A coming-of-age comedy, starring two women, set in the ‘90s … my review is already writing itself. What I appreciate most about Robespierre’s work is its relatability, and with an added 90s nostalgia, I can’t wait! PS: I bet the soundtrack is going to be KILLER.

“I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore”

Writer/Director: Macon Blair

Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye

It’s not Sundance without Melanie Lynskey, and this time I think even the powers that be have realized this since her film “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore” is one of the opening night films! NoVa native, Macon Blair, who starred in the awesome “Blue Ruin” and “Green Room” (a favorite at last year’s Sundance) makes his directorial debut in a revenge (comedy?): When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves, alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals. Hopefully this one starts off Sundance 2017 with a bang!


Director: Craig Johnson

Writer: Daniel Clowes

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer

Anywhere there is Laura Dern, there will be Lauren Bradshaw. If she films it, Lauren will come. Okay, I’ll stop. But based on the synopsis, I am praying we get some ENLIGHTENMENT-esque Dern mixed with Harrelson’s brutally honest, sarcastic humor! Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope, reunites with his estranged wife and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her. Let’s be real, even if this film was about the infamous volleyball in “Castaway” bobbing in the sea, I would be there.

“The Last Word”

Director: Mark Pellington

Writer: Stuart Ross Fink

Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Heche

A seemingly buddy comedy with MacLaine and Seyfriend sounds like something right up my alley! I miss seeing MacLaine in films, especially after recently rewatching “Postcards from the Edge”! No one does sass like Shirley, and based on the synopsis, I have high hopes for this one: Harriett is a retired businesswoman who tries to control everything around her. When she decides to write her own obituary, a young journalist takes up the task of finding out the truth, resulting in a life-altering friendship.

“The Yellow Birds”

Director: Alexandre Moors

Writer: David Lowery, R.F.I Porto

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette, Jennifer Aniston

A modern war film following two young soldiers during the Iraq War and the aftermath of their deployment, “The Yellow Birds” is sure to be a tearjerker. With such an incredible cast, and written by David Lowery (“Pete’s Dragon,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), I can see this film having legs for awhile after the festival.


Director/Screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Okay, okay. I couldn’t cut it down to just 10. And can you blame me when there is a film about Anne Hathaway turning into a giant Godzilla? At least that’s what I heard … something something Anne Hathaway … Godzilla. I’ve been trying to avoid reading anything about the film because I want to go in knowing as little as possible. Maybe this will be 2017’s “Swiss Army Man,” though I doubt anything can be as strange as that film!

And and and there is also a movie called “Manifesto” where Cate Blanchett plays 13 different characters!

LAUREN BRADHSHAW is a lover of all movies, even the bad ones. Follow her on twitter @flickchickdc. She grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and doubled-majored in foreign affairs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.