Sundance 2012: The Twitch Team Raises the Curtain with Our 15 Top Picks

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

Today is the big day! At last, the Sundance Film Festival kicks off this evening in an increasingly snowy Park City. Twitch has boots on the icy ground, ready to brave the cold and tell you everything there is to know about all the buzz-worthy titles you'll see rolling out over the next year to screens big and small. Here's a quick recap of our Park City Preview coverage followed by a few words from some of our correspondents setting up shop in Park City. We've each picked our Five Most Anticipated Titles and we'll have plenty more coming soon. In the meantime, you can follow all of our exploits on twitter: @TwitchFilm | @RylandAldrich | @ChaseWhale | @scottEweinberg | @AlexKoehne.

Sundance Preview: Dramatic Competitions
Sundance Preview: Documentaries
Sundance Preview: Premieres & Spotlight
Sundance Preview: Midnight & Next
Slamdance Preview
Short Films Preview
Interview with Hellion Writer/Director Kat Candler


And now, a few words from each of our contributors and their Five Most Anticipated Titles:

Chase Whale

Hello, Chase Whale here. Four year online film journalist, three year Sundance attendee, second time Twitch writer, and one time movie website owner about a Whale and his Gordon. Here are my five most anticipated films of Sundance 2012. Enjoy!


LIBERAL ARTS
Josh Radnor's first feature, the terrific HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE, premiered at Sundance 2010 and deservingly won the dramatic Audience Award. Tragically, the film didn't make much of a dent at the box office, which is why I'm thrilled he's already back with his second feature, LIBERAL ARTS. The connection between these two films is what speaks to me so much: pushing 30 and still unsure what the hell I'm doing with my life. Radnor understands what it's like to be a young train wreck while searching for something meaningful. Preach, brother, preach.


WRONG
It takes an acquired taste to understand the vision of musician and filmmaker Quentin Dupieux (Mr. Oizo if you like glow sticks and dancing), whose third feature is the first of its kind, about a killer tire, RUBBER. In RUBBER, Dupieux makes his own rules and takes filmmaking to a new, bonkers direction. I don't know what to expect for WRONG, but with a story about a guy searching for his lost dog and while on his journey encounters some of the weirdest people imaginable, I'm already strangely addicted.


WISH YOU WERE HERE
I'm biased when it comes to Blue-Tongue Films (HESHER, THE SQUARE, ANIMAL KINGDOM) because 1) they're so goddamn good and you're wrong if you disagree, and 2) they deal with angst and revenge which is a way to my heart. And cookies. Kieran Darcy-Smith, you have my full attention.


SMASHED
Alcoholism is a mother fucker and takes the right person to tackle something like this and make it cut to the bone. Seeing Mary Elizabeth Winstead take on a character fighting this addiction could turn out to be one of the most arresting performances of the festival. I like her a lot and it's nice she's taking more chances on leading roles. Also, I'm sold with the words "Starring Nick Offerman."


BONES BRIGADE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
I picked up my first skateboard during the rise of new school skateboarding in 1996, close to a decade after Stacy Peralta and his crew, the Bones Brigade, lived like dragons and forever changed the way people would view the sport. The game, as they say, had changed. BONES BRIGADE tells the story of how this team saved skateboarding during its rapid downfall and turned this industry into an infectious money-making machine. Seeing as his first documentary about the sport, DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS, won Sundance's prestigious award for Documentary Directing, I'm thinking going two-for-two won't be a challenge.

Alex Koehne

Alex Koehne here; photographer and editor by day and an aspiring filmmaker by night. I've been to Sundance three times but I've always been so busy working as a press photographer that have seen a grand total of two movies at the fest. This year will be different though. In addition to coving the festival for Twitch, I am also producing The Work Hard/Play Hard Lounge on Main St. where we'll be hosting several panel discussions, cocktail hour events and premier parties.

I love seeing movies knowing as little about them as possible. If I can, I avoid trailers, reviews, plot details and everything else I can before seeing a movie. I like having a genuine experience without preconceived notions and I like knowing that my opinion at the end is wholly mine and unadulterated. To that end, I know very little about most of these films - and that's how I like it.


SAVE THE DATE
While I would normally say that SAVE THE DATE is not my sort of movie, with a cast consisting of actors from three of my favorite TV shows of all time - I'm looking forward to seeing them in a new context. I see lots of potential.


SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED has me curious. Time Travel and an awesome cast are enough to perk my ears up.


UNDER AFRICAN SKIES
Another film that I haven't heard a lot about but am looking forward to is UNDER AFRICAN SKIES. It's a documentary about Paul Simon returning to South Africa and retracing the path to creating the seminal album, Graceland. I grew up loving that album (my parents played the tape cassette in the car all the time) and later found out about all the controversy around it. If the discussion about the album presented in the documentary is honest, then I think there will be a lot to learn and enjoy in this movie. It also includes plenty of great subjects for the interviews. Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and even Ladysmith Black Mambazo who according to IMDB is playing "himself".


SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS
Sticking with the music doc theme, SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS is high on my list. I am a big fan of LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy is a very interesting and opinionated person. The idea of having a solid week of huge shows leading up to an epic blow-out at Madison Square Garden - and then having nothing to do the next day, and the next, and the next, could be a fascinating process to watch. How does one cope?


JOHN DIES AT THE END
After seeing some of the footage of JOHN DIES IN THE END at Fantastic Fest this year, I was left wanting more. I really enjoyed Bubba Ho-Tep and I can definitely get down with that quirky sense of humor and outlandish concepts. I'm expecting a lot of style, plenty of off-color jokes and a lot of weird. I like all of those things.

Ryland Aldrich

This is my third consecutive year covering Sundance for Twitch and I'm happy to say it's now in a much more official capacity. It's been just me the last two years and now we have a whole team! That means I better stop talking about myself and get to coordinating. Here are my picks:


V/H/S
With the talented kids behind two of my favorite films last year (Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett of You're Next and Ti West of The Innkeepers) alongside such notable filmmakers as Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, David Bruckner, and big papa Joe Swanberg, this anthology of found footage horror is bound to be a total blast!


BLACK ROCK
Funny lady Katie Aselton is going a different direction than The Freebie in this midnighter written by husband Mark Duplass. Wait, Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass? I bet this one is going to have plenty of laughs after all.


FILLY BROWN
Hip-hop, Echo Park, Chicano culture, the very talented filmmakers behind English as a Second Language, and the fact this one is in competition have me popping and locking with anticipation.


THE IMPOSTER
Director Bart Layton has been highly celebrated for his docu work in the UK. He will surely bring a very stylized vision to this stranger than fiction tale of abduction and betrayal.


RED LIGHTS
Rodrigo Cortes has been at the top of every director-to-watch list in Hollywood since Buried made a splash a couple years back. I'm fascinated to see why this supernatural thriller is the project he picked. No doubt his great cast which includes Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Lizzie Olsen, and Toby Jones agreed.

We hope you enjoy the coverage!

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