Entertainment editor Rachel Rosenblit walks us through the major movies debuting at Sundance organized into three categories based solely on publicity photos: "Embraces," "Behind the Wheel," and "Dudes with Masks."
Summary: From up-and-coming director Ry Russo-Young, and co-written by former Sundance darling Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture), this story of a New Yorker who crashes with a family in L.A. has indie cred written all over it, with a cast that includes Rosemarie Dewitt (Rachel Getting Married), John Krasinski (Away We Go), and Olivia Thirlby (The Wackness).
Pictured: Nobody walks but everybody close-talks.
Summary: A heartbroken college student (Brady Corbet) hooks up with a prostitute in Paris. Corbet's recent roles—in Lars Von Trier's Melancholia and as the nicer of the upstate sex-cult members in Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene—give him ample dark-and-tortured cred.
Pictured: Wake up dude, she's hot!.
Summary: Two partiers must sober up to save their jobs. The partier-couple is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (the girl with the seven evil exes that Michael Cera had to defeat in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Big Love). Director James Ponsoldt is a relative newcomer whose major directorial credit to date is Off the Black with Nick Nolte in 2006.
Pictured: But first, one last drunken romp.
Behind the Wheel:
Summary: Thirty-five-year-old Amy moves back in with her parents and starts dating a 19-year-old. We've seen director Todd Louiso previously as the actor who played John Cusack's timid and depressed record-store employee in High Fidelity (with Jack Black as his psychotic foil). The leads are Melanie Lynskey (the other girl from Heavenly Creatures with Kate Winslet) and Christopher Abbott (yet another upstate-sex-cult member from Martha Marcy May Marlene).
Pictured: I'm bored. Wanna drive?
Summary: This Paul Dano vehicle is about a struggling musician and deadbeat dad who drives all night to make a last-ditch plea for custody of his daughter.
Pictured: This guy has no idea how to put in a car seat.
Summary: Three magazine employees seek out a wannabe time traveler for a story. This is screenwriter Colin Trevorrow's directorial debut, written with fellow former Saturday Night Live intern Derek Connolly, and features mumblecore star Mark Duplass (Hump Day, The Puffy Chair) and Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars).
Pictured: That ain't no DeLorean.
Dudes with Masks:
Summary: Serious filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke (Grey Gardens) spotlight the flaws of our nation's healthcare system.
Pictured: Putting the doc in documentary.
Summary: An aesthetically lush demolition documentary about the rise and fall of Detroit is the latest work from the Loki Films team Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Surprisingly for a film about the Motor City, its promotional material didn't fall into our "Behind the Wheel" category.
Pictured: Detroit does Portlandia.