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Festival Predictions

2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: An Introduction

2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: An Introduction

Tomorrow we begin our crystal ball overview of the 75 titles that we believe to be the odds on favorites for a possible 2018 Sundance Film Festival showing. While we’ve been enjoying the final days of summer and crisp fall weather, caffeinated Sundance programmers have been in a hermit-like stance and left with the gargantuan task of assessing the more than 2300 dramatic feature films, 1700 documentary films and 9000 short submitted films. Twenty years ago, Marc Levin’s Slam (see pic above) beat out Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Lisa Cholodenko’s High Art, and Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66 for the Grand Jury Prize for a Dramatic Film (he also won the prestigious Camera d’Or at Cannes).

The official announcements drop sometime around the Thanksgiving holidays, and so plenty of filmmakers are anxiously awaiting news on the fate of their films. Before breaking out (below) a quick list of films that could easily break into Park City, there are two prognostications we can make for the upcoming edition:

This should be a vintage year for films that were part of the Sundance Institute labs. They’ve been identifying original storytelling for decades now, but on paper, the films coming out of the labs appear to be more diverse, unconventional and bold than ever before. The simpleton argument of there being a typical Sundance film no longer applies with the swath of ingenuity, and this falls into my following guesstimate: 2018 might be the first edition where there are more female feature filmmakers selected than their male counterparts and this has more to do with the quality of the film offerings, and not a gender balance issue. The Filmmaker Future Is a Female and I’ll gladly take in a second viewing of Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here (a possible North American premiere for the festival’s Spotlight section). In no particular order, here are films that are worth keeping an eye out for, conventional wisdom from previous year is that some of these will be included in the fest.

In terms of the secret screening, which now appears to be reserved for a studio film, we have Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther to consider, while clout items for the Premieres category could include Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Jody Hill’s The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, Casey Affleck’s Light of My Life, Wash Westmoreland’s Colette, Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud, Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, Nash Edgerton’s Gringo, Ben Lewin’s The Catcher Was A Spy, David Wain’s A Futile & Stupid Gesture, Craig Johnson’s Alex Strangelove, John Turturro’s Going Places, Barry Levinson’s Happy Valley and Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene.

From the international set, Oliver Parker’s Swimming with Men, Lance Daly’s Black 47, Romain Gavras’ Mr. Freeze, Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger, Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s Gangsta, Jamie Adams’ Songbird, Mitja Okorn’s Life in a Year, Fritz Böhm’s Wildling, Niu Han’s A Sweet Life, Franck Khalfoun’s Prey, H.P. Mendoza’s Bitter Melo, Rodrigo Cortés’s Down a Dark Hall,Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended 2, former lab participant Gabriela Amaral’s A Sombra do Pai and Canuck offerings in Sébastien Pilote’s La disparition des lucioles, Matthew Rankin’s The 20th Century, Guillaume Lambert’s Les scènes fortuites, and Rodrigo Barriuso’s 1989.

We also considered: Joe Penna’s Arctic, Jonathan Watson’s Arizona, Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long, James Cox’s Billionaire Boys Club, Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life, Julia Hart’s Fast Color, Jeremiah Jones’ Fluidic, Laurie Collyer’s Furlough, Charlie Birns’s Human Affairs, Sam Boyd’s In a Relationship, Clark Johnson’s Juanita, Jack Dunphy & Nathan Silver’s The Pervert, Marc Turtletaub’s Puzzle, Megan Griffiths’ Sadie, Hannah Marks & Joey Power’s Shotgun, Rowan Athale’s Strange But True, Jeff Brown’s The Beach House, Matt Wolf’s untitled Marion Stokes Project, Karen Gillan’s The Party’s Just Beginning, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz’s The Peanut Butter Falcon, Lennart Ruff’s The Titan, Stacie Passon’s We Have Always Live in the Castle, Miranda Bailey’s You Can Choose Your Family, Mark Pellington’s Nostalgia, Jake Scott’s The Burning Woman, Marcus Lindeen’s The Acali Experiment, Onur Tukel’s The Misogynists, Zia Anger’s Always All Ways, Anne Marie, Dustin Feneley’s Stray, Lev Kalman & Whitney Horn’s Two Plains and a Fancy, Kevin Smith’s Killroy Was Here, Andrew Bowler’s Time Freak, Jeff Vespa’s Amre, Greg Kinnear’s The Philosophy of Phil, Ross Katz’s My Dinner with Hervé, Jamie Adams’ Wild Honey Pie, Max Winkler’s Flower, Ryan Koo’s Amateur, Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s Replicas, Federico D’Alessandro Tau, Matt Dillon’s El Gran Fellove, Vivieno Caldinelli’s Corpse Tub, David Gutnik’s Brighton Beach, Robert Siegel’s Cruise, Max Minghella’s Teen Spirit, Jess Manafort’s Rosy, and what Sundance festival wouldn’t be complete without a James Franco offering (Future World).

Stay tuned, tomorrow the countdown begins!


Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, 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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