Sundance Film Festival: Stars To Watch

January 18th, 2019Sundance Film Festival: Stars To Watch

Directors from around the globe will brave the cold of Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, taking place between January 24 and February 3. The stories they’re telling are just as diverse as they are — here are the Sundance films with stars we can't wait to see.

PARADISE HILLS and THE FAREWELL

[Credit: Sundance Institute]

Awkwafina, breakout star of OCEAN’S 8 and CRAZY RICH ASIANS (in which she played main character Rachel’s saucy best friend — bawk bawk!), appears in a pair of Sundance films directed by women: PARADISE HILLS (by Alice Waddington) and THE FAREWELL (by Lulu Wang). In the first, a young woman (Emma Roberts of “American Horror Story”) goes to a high-tech facility to be “reformed,” only to discover her new home holds some scary secrets. Awkwafina and Milla Jovovich, queen of the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, co-star. Meanwhile, Awkwafina takes center stage in THE FAREWELL, playing a Chinese-American woman who visits her ailing grandmother in China. 

LATE NIGHT

[Credit: FilmNation Entertainment/Sundance Institute]

TV queen Mindy Kaling (“The Mindy Project”) wrote and stars in LATE NIGHT, about a legendary talk-show host — played by the equally legendary British actress Emma Thompson (SENSE AND SENSIBILITY) — who hires her show’s first female writer (Kaling). Some old school vs. new school conflict ensues, or else we’re looking at a very short movie. Directed by television regular Nisha Ganatra (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Transparent”), LATE NIGHT reunites Kaling with her one-time “The Office” co-star Amy Ryan.  

HONEY BOY

[Credit: Sundance Institute/Stay Gold Features]

Shia LaBeouf plays a character loosely based on his real-life father, an ex-rodeo clown suffering from addiction issues, in HONEY BOY, from music video director Alma Har’el. Here’s where it gets complicated. Lucas Hedges, of last year’s gay conversion therapy drama BOY ERASED, plays another version of LaBeouf, a one-time child star who broke through with the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens” before starring in several entries in the TRANSFORMERS franchise and, later, more serious fare like World War II drama FURY. And then young actor Noah Jupe, whom you may have seen (but not heard) in 2018 horror hit A QUIET PLACE, plays a younger version of the character based on LaBeouf.

JUDY AND PUNCH

[Credit: Vice Media/Sundance Institute]

Mia Wasikowska, the Aussie star of Tim Burton’s pair of ALICE IN WONDERLAND movies, comes back to the real world for JUDY AND PUNCH, directed by actress-turned-director Mirrah Foulkes. The film is a darkly comic take on the old-fashioned “Punch and Judy” shows, a centuries-old puppeteering tradition wherein a man named Punch acts like an idiot and slaps his wife, Judy, a whole lot. Here, Wasikowska and her husband play a pair of Punch and Judy performers — named Punch and Judy, who’d a thunk it? — who hope their skills will get them and their infant child away from their lawless town. At least Judy does: Punch, in true Punch tradition, is kind of an idiot. Also in Punch and Judy tradition: violence ensues. Vive la puppets.

THE SOUVENIR

[Credit: A24/Sundance Institute]

Tilda Swinton — known for SUSPIRIA, DOCTOR STRANGE, a whole bunch of Wes Anderson movies, and just being weird and cool and having a very unique dress sense — co-stars in THE SOUVENIR, from British writer/director Joanna Hogg. The film stars Swinton’s daughter, Honor Swinton-Byrne, as a shy film student who defies her mother (Swinton again) by entering into a relationship with a charismatic but potentially abusive man. The film’s set in the 1980s, so fingers crossed for some over-the-top fashion moments amidst all of the drama.

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

[Credit: Sundance Institute/Bend It Networks]

Director Gurinder Chadha, who introduced Keira Knightley to the world with the 2002 soccer comedy BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, goes to Sundance by way of Britain with the comedy/drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. Like many of Chadha’s films, it concerns people of Indian descent living in Britain. Here, we’re looking at a Muslim teenager in the ‘80s who’s obsessed with the music of Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Chadha is a fan of The Boss. Hayley Atwell, aka Peggy Carter from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and TV’s “Agent Carter”), co-stars.

Check back on the AMC Scene for more news from Sundance and release info for these movies!

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