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2016 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Craig Johnson’s Wilson

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The work of Daniel Clowes already has a lineage with the Sundance Film Festival as it once served as the launchpad for the last “Clowes” graphic novel-to-film adaptation. There is a distinct chance that Wilson, a project that once had Alexander Payne attached to direct, will follow in the footsteps of Art School Confidential and carve out a little fest premiere before theatrical release. The film gods were kind to Craig Johnson with his break out, sophomore film The Skeleton Twins as it claimed the Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and did some healthy box-office. The film demonstrated the flexible acting range of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in working with the more serious and humorous tonalities, and for Johnson it deftly displays how he excels in comedic and dramatic writing. Starring Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern and Cheryl Hines, production took place in Minnesota this past June, so it’s still a little tight for a Sundance rollout and it’ll depend on how Fox Searchlight situates the film in their 2016 slate.

Gist: The middle-aged, divorced Wilson (Woody Harrelson), who lives in Oakland, California, finds himself lonely, smug and obsessed with his past.

Production Co./Producers: Ad Hominem Enterprises’ Jim Burke, Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne (Downsizing), Jared Goldman (Adult Beginners), and Mary Jane Skalski (The Cobbler).

Prediction: Premieres category is the only feasible slot.

U.S. Distributor: Fox Searchlight.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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