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Sundance 2011: Eric’s 10 Most Anticipated Films

Shotgun Stories announced the arrival of filmmaker with a command for story, in full control of the temperature and reminded us of others that work with the elements such as his producer David Gordon Green and mentors such as Terrence Malick. We expect plenty of flavor with this film (big studio effects pepper this distinctly indie feature and I’m especially excited about the prospects of Jeff Nichols teaming up with Michael Shannon once again.

#1. Take Shelter
Shotgun Stories announced the arrival of filmmaker with a command for story, in full control of the temperature and reminded us of others that work with the elements such as his producer David Gordon Green and mentors such as Terrence Malick. We expect plenty of flavor with this film (big studio effects pepper this distinctly indie feature and I’m especially excited about the prospects of Jeff Nichols teaming up with Michael Shannon once again.

#2. The Future
Me and You and Everyone We Know announced the arrival of filmmaker who comes across as a performer and artist – a rare breed indeed, and a film that is brimming with optimism and originality. I’m expecting the same sort of candid and sensitive treatment from Miranda July in her sophomore feature – and for the film to remain a pleasurable watch even when the screen is filled with the most uncomfortable situations in which us humans are sometimes cornered by.

#3. The Details
Mean Creek announced the arrival of a filmmaker who could create a great chamber, ensemble piece with a young set of actors — and while at the same time refraining from detailing his film with a dull and expect youth discourse. It’ll be interesting to see how Jacob Aaron Estes’ gives us the flipside of the coin — this time giving us adults acting irresponsibly. Strong cast of thesps guarantees that the material might be on the same level as the accidental violence found in American Beauty.

#4. HERE
We spoken at length about Braden King’s debut film – we look forward in seeing how it all comes together. Important people onboard the project include: lead actor Ben Foster, Director of Photography Lol Crawley and producers Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen.

#5. Martha Marcy May Marlene
The Sundance-selected, Cannes winning short film Mary Last Seen announced the arrival of a filmmaker who knows what to reveal and how to keep audiences guessing — it borders on a nightmare scenario which I’m guessing Borderline Films’ Sean Durkin is likely going to refer to with his feature which once again employs Brady Corbet and a strong ensemble of Park City regulars.

#6. Tyrannosaur
An extension of the short award-winning short film Dog Altogether, Paddy Considine will go in the exact places where we want him to go and Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan and Olivia Colman will all take part in the tragedy.

#7. Little Birds
An extension of Goodnight Moon, we’ve put the spotlight on Elgin James and Director of Photography Reed Morano in our American New Wave 25 series in 2010 – so this one is way a high priority for us.

#8. Reagan
As I mentioned before – I’m a big fan of documentarist Eugene Jarecki and I’m sure he’ll manage to vividly portray the popular 80’s president who oddly during the current Tea Party movement has become more iconic than the previous three put together.

#9. Cedar Rapids
Due to my aversion to all things Michael Cera, I didn’t bother with Youth in Revolt, but I’m thinking that the helmer who broke out with 97’s Star Maps will finally make a leap into a more mainstream fitted comedy by working off the high ranked Blacklist screenplay, Miguel Arteta sticks to a form he knows well – comedy with minor, sweet-natured dramatic elements a la Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl. The trailer shows potential, but I still hope John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Ed Helms pick-it up a notch.

#10. The Convincer
While I was less than enamored by her debut film Clockwatchers, I found Jill Sprecher’s sophomore feature Thirteen Conversations About One Thing demonstrated great poise – it was cut from a cloth of smart indie films, that kept you on your toes and are outfitted with the type of ensemble characters with a smart set of motives. My thinking is this midwest set crime drama featuring Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin and Greg Kinnear might be slightly more conniving than François Girard’s The Red Violin.

Honorable mentions: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s debut film On the Ice (filmed in Alaska, Lol Crawley DP, Howell producing), James Marsh’s Project Nim (first doc since Man on Wire) Steve James’ The Interrupters (Hoop Dreams director) and I could pick plenty off the Spotlights section, but the cream of the crop would be Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff

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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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