Sundance 2011: In search of the next 'The Kids Are All Right'
The Sundance Film Festival is ground zero for the film world's future indie hits, hidden gems that won't be hidden for very long.
But it's not always the movies you expect that wind up breaking out. Last year, a slew of celebrity-driven films with appealing premises came to the festival seeking media and, often, a studio home: Kristen Stewart's "Welcome to the Rileys," Katie Holmes' "The Romantics," Joseph Gordon Levitt's "Hesher." They all fizzled. The big hits? Movies that came in with a much lower profile: "The Kids Are All Right," "Winter's Bone," "Blue Valentine."
What movies will carry the mantle this year? The festival kicks off later Thursday, but a few titles are already bubbling up. There's "Little Birds," a coming-of-age story set in Southern California. There's "Like Crazy," a story of a long-distance relationship starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones and costarring Jennifer Lawrence (who, oh yes, came to fame last year in "Winter's Bone"). Tom McCarthy brings the follow-up to his much-liked "The Visitor," a Paul Giamatti-starring dramatic comedy titled "Win Win," about a New Jersey wrestling coach.
On the documentary side, there's "Project Nim," from the director of the crowd-pleasing documentary "Man on Wire," about a chimpanzee that was used in a famous set of science experiments. And there's "Becoming Chaz," a look at the gender transition made by Chastity Bono.
That's to say nothing of promising international offers -- including "Tyrannosaur," an Irish-set story of an unlikely relationship layered with spiritual themes that marks the directorial debut of the actor Paddy Considine, as well as an offbeat take on the vampire genre, "Vampire," from up-and-coming Japanese director Iwai Shunji.
A big hit will doubtless emerge from this pool of films. Or from somewhere else entirely.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy." Credit: Crispy Films