The 10 Films That Should Sell Big At This Year's Sundance Film Festival
"Life After Beth"
Why It Should Sell Big:
A zombie comedy with Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick and John C. Reilly. How can you go wrong? "I Heart Huckabee" writer Jeff Baena's debut involves a young man who keeps his zombified girlfriend locked up at home, which sounds to us like "Shawn of the Dead" meets "Warm Bodies" -- not an unattractive combo when you consider the lasting appeal of "Parks and Rec."
"Wish I Was Here"
Why It Should Sell Big: Zach Braff courted controversy for hitting up Kickstarter to help fund his long-awaited follow-up to "Garden State," "Wish I Was Here," and while many derided the move, it also brought a ton of attention to the indie. Couple that with the fact that his many loyal fans (Braff boasts over a million Twitter followers) broke Kickstarter records to make his dream a reality and there's no doubt that distributors will be lining up to bid on Braff's latest. Adding to Braff's star allure are his co-stars in the film,
Kate Hudson, Jim Parsons and Ashley Greene.
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Wish I Was Here
Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King
Potential: Buyers should be interested in a more grown-up Braff, who returns to Sundance with this Kickstarter-funded pic about a failed thesp faced with home-schooling his kids
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#1 'Camp X-Ray' (UTA)
The Buzz: Stewart takes on the role of a Gitmo prison guard who strikes up an unlikely relationship with a detainee, a suspected terrorist played by A Separation's Maadi.
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#10 'Camp X-Ray'
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"Camp X-Ray" (IMDb)
Never one to shy away from controversial material, for her trip to Park City this year Kristen Stewart is heading to Guantanamo Bay. In "Camp X-Ray," Stewart plays a young prison guard at the controversial prison for terrorists. There her character strikes up a friendship with one of the inmates. It might not seem like super commercial material, but "Camp X-Ray" already has a serious following in MTV Movie Brawl.
"Wish I Was Here" (IMDb) - Ashley Greene
At Sundance, 46,000 Kickstarter contributors are going to find out what Zach Braff made with their money. This is the first major film project of this scale to face this kind of scrutiny from the people who funded it, so early reviews of this title could mean a lot for the future of movie funding.
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2. “The Voices” (IMDb) - Anna Kendrick
Ryan Reynolds needs this. Remember when we all liked Ryan Reynolds’ movies? Remember how charming he was in “Definitely, Maybe”? Look, no one can blame Reynolds for doing the what-turned-out-to-be-a-bomb, “Green Lantern.” I mean, it’s really rare for superhero movies to fail and that could have done for Reynolds what “Iron Man” did for Robert Downey Jr. Unfortunately, Reynolds had had a string of bad movies since then – “R.I.P.D.”; ugh -- so the failure of “Green Lantern” is amplified. (Curiously, the success of “Safe House” is rarely mentioned. See, even here it only gets a parenthetical.) And, yes, “The Voices” sounds -– let’s say -– “quirky.” Reynolds plays a guy named Jerry Hickfang (!) who, after accidentally killing a co-worker, receives advice from his talking cat and dog.
4. “Life After Beth”(IMDb) - Anna Kendrick
People still love zombies. Here, the Beth in the title of the film -- who, yes, is a zombie -- is played by Aubrey Plaza. After her death, her former boyfriend, played by the everywhere-these-days Dane DeHaan, looks at it as a second chance at love.
6. “Camp X-Ray” - Kristen Stewart,
This makes the list because of its star: Kristen Stewart. (Though, I hate admitting that because the synopsis at least sounds like it could be a worthwhile examination of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.) Regardless, this is a huge test for Stewart, post-“Twilight.” Yes, I feel we’ve said that before, but this truly is a drama in every sense of the word as opposed to something like, say, “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
7. “Wish I Was Here” (IMDb) - Ashley Greene
In 2004, Zach Braff wrote and directed “Garden State." It’s a movie that received rave reviews at Sundance that year, and it’s a movie that you used to like (but would never admit to liking if asked today). After “Garden State,” Braff ... well, didn’t write or direct anymore films. (One of the great misconceptions of popular culture is that Braff directed the insufferable “The Last Kiss,” a movie that was directed by Tony Goldwyn and mostly written by Paul Haggis.) Now, Braff has finally returned with this Sundance premiere –- financed by Kickstarter -- which looks a lot like “Garden State 2,” but apparently isn’t “Garden State 2.” Anyway, label me “curious.”