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2018 Sundance Film Festival: Eric Lavallee’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Films

Composer Keegan DeWitt has been dethroned. The reigning, heavy weight champion of Park City (who usually arrives with a half dozen offerings) loses out to actress Ann Dowd who takes over the ’18 edition with acting gigs in a whopping five feature films. Stats aside, one observation we can ascertain is that ownership of creation in the American indie sphere is changing. Comparatively with last year’s numbers and next to their male counterparts, the number of female producers and filmmakers feels close to being equally balanced, but the notion of control, the incentive of owning and manufacturing content appears to be in the upswing. From screenwriter tandems adapting original material (Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele) to actresses supporting the next generation of female filmmakers by backing roles that they would like to see exist means that the likes of Andrea Riseborough and Maggie Gyllenhaal are doing way more than simply lending their name. 

Not unlike last year’s contributions from Eliza Hittman and Janicza Bravo, unsurprisingly, the most promising titles on paper are from female creators. I could make a case for almost half of the offerings at the ’18 edition that tickle my fancy, but Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life (third outing), Debra Granik’s third feature (fiction) film, Sara Colangelo’s sophomore project, Zellner Bros.’ Damsel, Boots Riley’s directorial debut, and the long awaited doc on M.I.A are all must sees. In A to Z order, here is my top five most anticipated.

I Think We’re Alone Now – Dir. Reed Morano
There’ll be a point where we discuss Reed Morano‘s filmography in two parts. A decade plus of indie film contributions (including her directorial debut in 2015’s Meadowland), she has made the move into epic video work (Beyoncé: Lemonade) TV series (Vinyl, The Handmaid’s Tale), and finally, a major studio item (The Rhythm Section is currently being readied for ’19). With a recent best director in a drama series win for The Handmaid’s Tale, I Think We’re Alone Now might be her last time in the ring for indie and what a send off. A sophomore dish of dystopia, this features Elle Fanning and Peter Dinklage and the type of vistas that we’ve become used to by this director/cinematographer.

Madeline’s Madeline – Dir. Josephine Decker
Film fest insiders know that Madeline’s Madeline will be Josephine Decker big breakout party, and unsuspecting auds will likely come to appreciate one of the more unique voices working in micro indie. Working with a budget that was probably bigger than her last three films combined (Thou Wast Mild and LovelyButter on the Latch and Flames which I’ve yet to see) meant she was able to lasso the likes Miranda July and Molly Parker, but the formerly titled Movie No. 1 will demonstrate Decker’s versatile approach to narrative and  knack for working outside casting norms. Helena Howard takes on the role of Madeline — and perhaps in an I, Tonya type manner where one person might not be in control of her destiny, but is the lead commander in her skillset, the “meta” forces appear to pull in many directions.

NANCY – Dir. Christina Choe
Having already built a solid resume with her body of short film oeuvres (and worth mentioning – an intriguing diary series on North Korea), Christina Choe’s debut feature had time to simmer, find the right producers, and land a lead to take on transformational, schizoid, paranoia frame of mind where the number one indeed appears to be the loneliest number. Sundance calls the character a female anti-hero for times like ours — sign me up.

Night Comes On – Dir. Jordana Spiro
I’m mentioned this filmmaker on our site at ad nauseam and hailed her debut as the most anticipated American directorial pic for 2018.  Jordana Spiro’s remarkable Skin is a masterwork in the short form, and the pronounced sensitivity, aesthetic treatment that will likely confirm that her future output is no one trick pony. Properly workshopped at Sundance’s three major labs (Directors, Screenwriters, and Composers Labs), the actress takes on the coming-of-ager with what imagine will be a fierce, heart bleeding portrait. With Night Comes On we believe the aestheticism will be soaked in naturalism and minalism.

TYREL – Dir. Sebastián Silva
If you’ve read Nicholas and Dylan’s separate Most Anticipated lists, you’ll find that there is plenty of upside to the cinema that is Sebastián Silva. This enfant maudit, chilean Brooklynite agitates in his latest offering, and sometimes it takes a foreigner to infuse the larger discourse of the responding rightly when you’re wronged. Jason Mitchell, Christopher Abbott, Michael Cera, Caleb Landry Jones and naturally Ann Dowd shake up the cage.

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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