The 2022 Sundance Film Festival has already been quite the adventure and the festival doesn’t start until Thursday. As most things it has been severely impacted and reimagined due to Covid-19. The festival was to be the first of its kind: A hybrid festival of online and in person movie goers, capitalizing on the great success of last year, but getting people back into the theaters and streets of Park City, Utah. That was the plan, until about 10 days ago, when Omicron changed everything forcing the cancellation of all in person screenings, events and parties and going solely virtual like the 2021 version of the festival. Like they always say, the show must go on… just on screens in people’s homes.
The festival lineup is a little lighter this year, most likely due to the global shift in production and how hard it has been for indie filmmakers, but the slate this year features many big name performers, exciting first-time directors, and hot button documentaries on Princess Diana, Kanye West, and Bill Cosby.
Just like the last 10 years, HeyUGuys will be sending its Sundance Kids, Ty and Nathan to the virtual webs of Sundance to review the best Sundance has to offer. The two, as always, try to preview the festival the best way they know how, with quirky commentary and assumptions on their writing partner’s preferences.
Here are six films to watch out for this year at Sundance:
Oscar bait- The film most likely to be the critic’s darling:
Fire of Love
The last time somebody said that sentence, it was 1997 and actors like Pierce Brosnan and Tommy Lee Jones were at the top of Hollywood’s A-List. Those of you who don’t spend your time binging science shows on BBC Four might not know it, but volcanoes really are back in a big bad way. 2021 gave us two amazing books on Volcanology (‘Fire and Ice’ by Natalie Starkey, and ‘Super Volcanoes’ by Robin George Andrews) and it seems that 2022 is going to take things even further with the premiere of the documentary film Fire of Love.
The film follows the lives and careers of Katia and Maurice Krafft, a husband and wife team that completely pioneered the way we film and photograph volcanoes today. It’s always a safe bet to say that one or more Sundance documentary films will make the final list of Oscar nominees in the year to come, and this film seems to be on track to make said list.
Bound to be full of breathtaking images, and paired with a moving love story, this film seems to have everything that Oscar voters seem to eat up and… if we play our cards right, perhaps we’ll even end up with a Dwayne Johnson volcano disaster film by 2025. One can only hope!
This has all the makings of being a buzzworthy film. The subject matter of the film is so rich that there is even a documentary showing at Sundance about the same exact thing called The Janes. Call Jane, the narrative film, not the documentary, takes place in Chicago during 1968 and centers around a group who perform top secret abortions through an underground collective seeking to help women. The film is directed by Phyllis Nagy, who wrote the fantastic film Carol. It also has the recipe for a breakout performance from Elizabeth Banks, and a fantastic supporting cast of Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina and Kate Mara.
Sundance is always a guaranteed home for movies bringing social commentary and hot button issues and this movie seems to be guaranteed to get a conversation going. It is a shame that the real life subject matters can’t be on hand to premiere both the documentary and film in person, but it is incredible they are getting two different platforms to tell their story.
The Sleeper Hit- The film most likely to come out of nowhere
After receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah commissions a clone of herself to ease the loss of her friends and family. When she makes a miraculous recovery, her attempt to decommission her clone fails, and leads to a court-mandated duel to the death.
That is the synopsis for Riley Stern’s Dual, if that doesnt leave you going “Woah, awesome,” then you must not be into movies that have exhilarating plot descriptions.
Sundance is not typically the place where one goes for memorable Science-fiction. In fact, some may say it is the last place. But it actually has been home to some memorable debuts like Safety, Not Guaranteed, Moon, and one of my recent favorite Sundance discoveries Palm Springs.
Dual has the potential to be an audience favorite with a big-time leading cast of Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jumanji) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) If the film can take advantage of its cast, premise, and promising young director then expect this to be an indie breakout.
Directing a remake of one of Akira Kurosawa’s most highly beloved films (Ikiru) is not a job we would wish on any director. However, if one must attempt to do so it helps to have the likes of novelist Kazuo Ishiguro at your disposal. Ishiguro is by no means a stranger to cinema, his novels ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘Remains of the Day’ were both brilliantly adapted to the big screen and it is hard to imagine that this new film Living won’t share in similar glory.
Set in a post-WW2 London, Living tells the story of Mr. Williams, a man who finds himself searching for new meaning in life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The film’s original story was partly inspired by the Tolstoy classic ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich‘, and stars Bill Nighy in the role originally played by the acclaimed actor and long-time Kurosawa collaborator, Takashi Shimura. Without having actually seen the film, it’s hard to guess at how close director Oliver Hermanus and crew will play it to the original, but with Nighy in the lead and a veteran writer behind the scenes, this is definitely a film that should be able to stand on its own two feet.
The “I’ve been going to Sundance with you for 10 years now, I know what you like more than you do” pick
The Film Ty believes Nathan Is Most Likely to See:
When You Finish Saving The World
Every year the Sundance Film Festival does its best to showcase at least one film that seems like it was custom tailored for the likes of our beloved critic, Nathan McVay. This year, it seems that Jesse Eisenberg’s When You Finish Saving The World seems to be that film.
Based off of his Audible original of the same name, the film follows the relationship between Evelyn (Julianne Moore) and her son Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard) as they navigate the waters of a troubled mother-son relationship. Nathan has a wonderful Mother-Son relationship, but he is a sucker for family drama so Nathan will be on board.
Nathan also loves a big all-star cast and there is nothing that gets Nathan more excited than a film with backing by A24. Eisenberg’s feature-length directing debut (Nathan loves those too) is undoubtedly going to be a film to keep your eye on in the coming months. Its previous life as an Audible original also leads us to believe that it will be scooped up for Amazon’s streaming service before the end of the festival.
The Film Nathan believes Ty is Most Likely to See:
My Old School
The thing with Ty is, he is the perfect person to have as a critic or someone to give you a suggestion. When Ty says he loves something, then you know it is very good. But those things are always so unpredictable and one could never believe they have Ty’s tastes figured out because that would be impossible. From his love of very random types of animation, to a random drama, to his out of nowhere love of Murder She Wrote, Ty can never be put into a box. So when trying to predict what on this Sundance lineup he would like would be a tall task.
My prediction for this year is the UK Documentary My Old School. The documentary which features Alan Cumming is directed by Jono McLeod and centers around an “astonishing true story of Scotland’s most notorious imposter.” The plot description resembles a mash up of Catch Me If You Can and a 1990’s romantic comedy.
It sounds both fascinating and truly unpredictable… just like my writing partner.
The Sundance Film Festival begins January 20 and lasts through January 30. Online tickets are available on the festival’s website and available for all worldwide.