January 17, 2018
Sundance 2018

8 Films We're Most Excited to See at Sundance 2018

Sorry to Bother You
Here's what we can't wait to catch in Park City.

Out of 110 selected feature-length films—100 of which are world premieres—it can be near impossible to choose from among Sundance Film Festival's plentiful program of high-quality work. Good thing we have such diverse interests among us, and have seen an awful lot of films between us. If your tastes align with those of your favorite NFS writer, you're in luck. Our core team members who will be covering Sundance from the ground in Park City this week have each chosen two of our most anticipated. Read on below to find out what and why.

Skate Kitchen

Skate Kitchen

Director: Crystal Moselle
Section: NEXT

As a girl who grew up skateboarding and in skate culture with all dudes, I couldn’t be more excited about a movie revolving around a girl skate gang. Granted, this kind of thing can go very wrong in the wrong hands, but I have confidence in filmmaker Crystal Moselle’s knack for authenticity. After all, she comes from documentary, and her feature doc The Wolfpack nabbed the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2015. Based on a real-life group called The Skate Kitchen, Moselle put her doc skills to use researching for the film by immersing herself with the real girls to tell the story of a fictionalized 18-year-old skateboarder named Camille. This combination makes the film feel poised to enter the growing—and increasingly interesting—canon of docu-fiction hybrids. —Liz Nord

Piercing

Piercing
Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska appear in Piercing by Nicolas Pesce, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance InstituteCredit: Zachary Galler
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Section: Midnight
At my first Sundance back in 2016, Micah van Hove asked if I’d like a ticket to see a midnight movie he wouldn’t be able to make. On a whim, I accepted. That movie was The Eyes of My Mother. Not only did it end up as my favorite of the festival, it set the course for how I would approach any festival going experiences in the future. It inspired me to seek out those weird, underhyped movies that stretch past the label of “indie.” As the credits rolled down the screen, I noticed that the writer/director, Nick Pesce, was actually a college acquaintance. This, in turn, gave me the courage to set up my first ever interview as a journalist. Needless to say, I’m excited to see his follow-up: the “twisted” love story, Piercing. It’s a psychological thriller starring Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska, based on Ryu Murakami’s 1994 novel of the same name, about a family man who lies to his wife and daughter about a business trip, instead opting to check into a hotel with the intentions of killing a random prostitute. Only two years removed from his debut with The Eyes of My Mother, Pesce’s future looks huge. He was recently tapped by Sam Raimi to re-boot The Grudge franchise. —Jon Fusco

Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock

Akicita
A film still from Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock by Cody Lucich, an official selection of the Documentary Premieres program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.Credit: Zen Lefort
Director: Cody Lucich
Section: Documentary Premieres
Cody Lucich is a filmmaker whose very first documentary is playing in a category normally reserved for ‘renowned directors.’ What could this mean? I first came across some of Lucich’s short-form work on Vimeo, where he’d shared videos covering the protests at Standing Rock, and I was immediately submerged in his style. To me, Lucich embodies a new generation of filmmakers, one which I can hopefully lump myself into, who are still coming of age. I see this generation as melders of fiction and nonfiction, learning to use the camera in the way it should be used, not as an extension of the eye, but as an extension of the imagination. Lucich uses the camera to conjure movement and defy the measure of time that mires us to our daily existence, instead creating a more expressive language. All this means his feature debut, chronicling the largest Native occupation since Wounded Knee, is not to be missed. —Oakley Anderson-Moore

Monsters and Men

Monsters and Men
Anthony Ramos and John David Washington appear in Monsters and Men by Reinaldo Marcus Green, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.Credit: Alystyre Julian
Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition
Over the past several years, Reinaldo Marcus Green has worked tirelessly to bring "low-key, high stakes" stories to the forefront of American independent cinema. With Monsters and Men, he's finally ready to go feature-length. I interviewed Green three years ago on the occasion of his short film, Stop, premiering at Sundance 2015. The story of a young boy who is racially profiled and stopped-and-frisked by the NYPD, Stop was both a film of the moment and an unexpected forecast of the avalanche of police brutality cases to follow in its wake. Monsters and Men looks to explore this issue even deeper, as it follows a young man who records a violent altercation between a white police officer and street hustler that concludes in murder. Taking place in my current home of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, the film stars Anthony Ramos, who, if you're a Hamilton obsessive like I am, only furthers the film's case as a must-see.—Erik Luers

Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You
Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson appear in Sorry to Bother You by Boots Riley, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.Credit: Doug Emmett
Director: Boots Riley
Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Half of the staff here at No Film School have Bay Area roots, and my own years there were steeped in music, particularly the underground hip-hop scene that featured a riveting band called The Coup. Now, that band’s frontman, Boots Riley, has turned his talents to filmmaking. I believe that good musicians tend to make good filmmakers because they usually understand rhythm, storytelling, and how to entice an audience, so if a musician that I particularly love makes a film—such as is the case with Boots Riley and Sorry to Bother You—I’m doubly excited. The film is also a recipient of the SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grants, which have an excellent rep for supporting the most promising indies. Sorry is a dark comedy featuring Lakeith Stanfield (Short Term 12, Get Out) as a “30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues who discovers a magical selling power living inside of him,” which seems just rife with possibility for both laughs and social commentary. Supporting cast, including the having-a-moment Armie Hammer, looks strong as well. —Liz Nord

Mandy

mandy
Nicolas Cage appears in Mandy by Panos Cosmatos, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Section: Midnight
Another movie premiering in the midnight section this year that I’m really excited about seeing is Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. Why? Mostly because Nick Cage is about to kick some serious ass. Set in an alternate 1983, Cage plays Red Miller, a broken and haunted man, who hunts the unhinged religious sect that slaughtered the love of his life. I have high hopes that this film is going to be self-aware enough to deliver on the potential of its star and plot, and if the press photo (featuring Cage smeared in blood à la a more psychotic Rambo) is any indication, it’s going to be right on the mark. Movies like these are the reason I generally stick to the Next and Midnight sections. You know what you’re in for: the completely unexpected. —Jon Fusco

The Price of Everything

The Price of Everything
Stefan Edlis appears in The Price of Everything by Nathaniel Kahn, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.Credit: US Four Productions
Director: Nathaniel Kahn
Section: Documentary Competition

Sure, embedding with drug runners or accepting encrypted files from enemies of the state requires a brave filmmaker. But when faced with the story of oneself, many would shy away from the pain of personal miseries. That’s exactly what Nathaniel Kahn took on when he explored a famous architect who also happened to be his absent, philandering father in his debut feature My Architect.  That film earned him an Oscar Nomination in 2003 and was the first and possibly only time I have ever seen a filmmaker on a personal journey that honest. Kahn’s film profoundly influenced the parameters I gave myself on my own first documentary, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what he delves into in his first independently produced feature since then, The Price of Everything. The doc focuses on the complicated world of art dealership and asks "what society loses and gains when art becomes a rich person’s commodity." —Oakley Anderson-Moore

Lizzie

Lizzie
Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny appear in Lizzie by Craig William Macneill, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Director: Craig William Macneill
Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition
A historical thriller about the Lizzie Borden murders starring Kristen Stewart and, in the title role, Chloë Sevigny? Sign me up! As a "true crime" and Unsolved Mysteries obsessive, I've long been interested in the case of the prolific Massachusetts woman who, one summer morning at the age of 32, axed her father and stepmother to death in their beautiful Fall River home. What caused her to do it and why was she acquitted of the crime? The film promises to reveal what could've happened, citing the sinister motive as being something perhaps a little more passion-based. If you like this kind of thing, care to goes halves with me on an evening in the official Borden home Bed-and-Breakfast? After shooting Ana Asensio's Most Beautiful Island on Super 16, cinematographer Noah Greenberg now lenses another film featuring a female lead searching for her place in this world.—Erik Luers 

For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

sundance 2018
No Film School's podcast and editorial coverage of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by RODE Microphones and Blackmagic Design.     

Featured image: Lakeith Stanfield appears in Sorry to Bother You by Boots Riley, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Doug Emmett.

Your Comment