Although the 2016 season in film isn't quite over until the Oscars take place, 2017's newest and most anticipated films are about to usher their way onto the (screen) scene. The Sundance Film Festival has arrived! This year's festival consists of 113 full-length films coming from as many as 31 countries and debuting 36 first-time filmmakers. Those included in the lineup come from a whopping 13,782 submissions, 95 of which will be world premieres. And to save you some trouble (read: countless hours scrolling Rotten Tomatoes), we've rounded up the most eagerly awaited movies you're most likely to hear about postpremiere. How about that for upping your indie culture game?
1. Before I Fall
- Director: Ry Russo-Young
- Cast: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Diego Boneta
This is a book-to-film adaptation based on the 2010 novel of same name by Lauren Oliver. High schooler Samantha Kingston (Deutch) thinks she has it all, living life amongst her Mean Girls-esque clique, until one car crash changes everything. She wakes up the next day, only to realize it's not the next day. It's the same day as before . . . again and again. Think Groundhog Day, teenage style.
2. Band Aid
- Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
- Cast: Zoe Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, Fred Armisen
Band rehearsal is the new couples therapy in this indie film. A husband (Pally) and wife (Lister-Jones) make a last-ditch effort to resolve their issues, but not in the way you'd think. The two, instead, turn to writing their problems out into song and starting a band. If you were a fan of Keira Knightley's Begin Again or even School of Rock, chances are you'll take a liking to this. Not to mention the production crew was all female. Just saying.
3. Fun Mom Dinner
- Director: Alethea Jones
- Cast: Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott, Adam Levine
Although the title and premise may be reminiscent of Bad Moms, Jones's Sundance film is sure to stand on its own. Just as main character Emily (Aselton) begins to feel like she's lost herself to the age-old ways of being a mom, some of the other mothers at her child's school suggest a fun night in (hence the title). From there, things quickly go from wine and chill to shock and thrill. Jones delivers dirty jokes and hijinks galore, sure to delight comedy lovers.
- Director: Julian Rosefeldt
- Cast: Cate Blanchett
Accomplished actress Cate Blanchett takes on 13 (!) different roles in Manifesto, based on what began as a multi-screen art-museum installation. With this film, Rosefeldt begs the question: can the meanings behind history's art be relevant to today's society? From pop artists to futurists and everything between, this film is inspired by the artistic innovators of the past, with Blanchett portraying some of the biggest art — you guessed it — manifestos to date.
5. Golden Exits
- Director: Alex Ross Perry
- Cast: Emily Browning, Mary-Louise Parker, Lily Rabe, Jason Schwartzman, Chloë Sevigny
With jaw-dropping and thought-provoking performances in Suckerpunch and The Uninvited, Emily Browning returns to the indie scene as 20-something Naomi, who arrives from Australia to study abroad and help main character Nick for the semester. But soon after, her presence causes a riff between Nick's family and that of Buddy, a loose family friend. Not much else is known about Golden Exits, which makes it all the more deliciously mysterious.
6. Marjorie Prime
- Director: Michael Almereyda
- Cast: Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis, Lois Smith
Self-reflection is at large in the wellness community, but what happens when it's possible to take it to analytical extremes? Almereyda explores this by telling the story of 86-year-old Marjorie (Smith), a sick woman longing to recount her life and the life of her deceased husband. To do so, she interacts with a computerized version of him, continually gaining an understanding of their history. This revolutionary tale gives the family a deeply meaningful and final chance to rebuild their past.
7. Rebel in the Rye
- Director: Danny Strong
- Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch
So you read the classic novel Catcher in the Rye sometime in high school and have pinned quotes from the book onto a Pinterest board for months ("If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late?"), but could you rattle off any one fact about the book's author, J.D. Salinger? Not as likely. Rebel in the Rye explores the life and mind of Salinger (Hoult), from WWII to mental illness, all leading up to his famous novel. Fans of literature and history will flock to see this one.
- Director: Dee Rees
- Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell
When World War II veterans Jaime McAllen (Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Mitchell) become unlikely friends, their two families (differing in status and lifestyle) are forced to face the consequences of an unruly social hierarchy — and racial divides. Set in the deep South, this drama is described as an epic pioneer story.
- Director: Mark Palansky
- Cast: Martin Donovan, Peter Dinklage, Anton Yelchin
As if 2016 didn't provide us with enough mind-bendingly intense sci-fi films and shows (Stranger Things and The OA included), Rememory sounds like another good one. Not long after scientist Gordon Dunn (Donovan) unveils his latest groundbreaking discovery, he's mysteriously found dead. His invention, a machine that can record and play one's memories, is then stolen by self-proclaimed old acquaintance Sam Bloom (Dinklage). What unfolds is a haunting, mysterious film that blends memories of past and the present.
10. The Last Word
- Director: Mark Pellington
- Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Heche, Thomas Sadoski
Once-successful business woman Harriet (MacLaine) has always been in complete control of her life. It is because of this that she, reflecting on her life's accomplishments, sets out to have local writer Anne Sherman (Seyfried) write her obituary (because, of course). When all is penned and done and Harriet is left unsatisfied with the result, she decides to write it herself, and Sherman is unwillingly taken along for the ride. A budding, unlikely friendship forms as the journey unfolds, teaching the two more about life than they set out to learn.
11. Sidney Hall
- Director: Shawn Christensen
- Cast: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Lane
Sidney Hall (Lerman) is a young, talented writer hesitant about pursuing his passion. Encouraged by a teacher, he writes his first novel, becoming a quick success. Yet, when the dystopian views that his novel portrays have a negative effect on some young readers, he begins to be associated with scandal. As a result, Sidney secludes himself from society, only to be sought out by a mysterious detective. The film's flashbacks and flash-forwards examines both Sidney's life and the all-too-common societal pressures he faces.
12. The Big Sick
- Director: Michael Showalter
- Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher
Nanjiani and Kazan portray a Pakistan-born comedian and a grad student who fall in love, but find struggle as their cultures clash. Matters become worse when Emily (Kazan) is discovered to have a mysterious illness. Following the news, her boyfriend is made to face the disastrous plight alongside her parents, leaving him in an emotional battle with matters of heart and mind. Co-written by Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, the story is based on their real-life experiences.
13. Where Is Kyra?
As if the provoking title or, well, Michelle Pfeiffer, weren't reason enough to see this, Where Is Kyra? tells the story of mild-mannered Kyra, who spirals into despair after her mother passes away and she can barely support herself. As a result of her turmoil, Kyra (Pfeiffer) attempts to pull off a last-effort scheme in order to prevent herself from being evicted. Along the way she meets Doug (Sutherland), another lone soul who slowly but surely gets roped into her trickery.
14. The Discovery
- Director: Charlie McDowell
- Cast: Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough, Ron Canada
When world-renowned physicist Doctor Thomas Harber (Redford) discovers scientific proof of an afterlife, millions start to take their own lives willingly in eager hopes of escaping this word and getting there (wherever "there" is). Unwilling to face the devastating consequences, his estranged son Will (Segel) returns to the island in which he grew up. While there he meets Isla (Mara), who has returned for reasons of her own that remain unknown. This riveting film uncovers what happens when both are forced to reflect on their past regrets and how they got to where they are now. The movie is already scheduled to be released on Netflix on March 31!
15. The Polka King
- Director: Maya Forbes
- Cast: Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman, Jacki Weaver
Based on the hilariously and surprisingly real-life story of musician-turned-con artist, The Polka King stars Black as Jan Lewan, a Polish immigrant who sets out to achieve what he believed to be The American Dream by any means necessary — necessary in his opinion, anyway. Watch as Lewan fools investors, officials, and even his own wife (Slate) again and again in order to go from '70s shop owner to '90s "King of Pennsylvania Polka."
- Director: Craig Johnson
- Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer
When middle-aged, lonely, and quite frankly unbalanced Wilson (Harrelson) gets another chance with his estranged wife (Dern), he comes to find out that he not only getting a shot with her, but with the teenage daughter he's never met. In his own, er, unique way, he attempts to reach out to her and form a relationship. Hilarious? Yes. A little kooky? Perhaps. This is definitely a movie to bring your tissues to, be it for tears of meaning or laughter.
17. The Yellow Birds
- Director: Alexandre Moors
- Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette, Jennifer Aniston
If the title sounds familiar, that's because it originates from Iraq veteran Kevin Powers's 2012 novel of the same name. In this portrayal, Bartle (Ehrenreich) and Murph (Sheridan) quickly become friends while training for the army before shipping off to Iraq. Yet, by the time the war is over, only one of them is heading back. Bartle returns home, keeping secrets of Murph's disappearance to himself, to the dismay of a military investigator (Patric) and Murph's devastated mother (Aniston). Clues are shown to the audience through striking, unabashed flashbacks from the war's front lines. The struggles of both those who leave and those who are left behind is most prevalent in this gritty-looking film.
18. Wind River
- Director: Taylor Sheridan
- Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal
If the chilling (both violence- and weather-induced) scenes from The Revenant didn't have you shying away, buckle up for the untamed and shocking world of Wild River. Cory Lambert (Renner) is a U.S. Fish & Wildlife agent that enlists rookie agent Jane Banner (Olsen) in uncovering a body in the Wind River Indian Reservation. Not looking forward to facing relentless weather and isolation, Jane turns around and employs Cory as the case's tracker. Together they go out into the elements, where the only laws are the laws of nature.