Oscar-nominations for this year have been announced. The list was pretty much what was to be expected, on the basis of the Golden Globes. But I´m not interested in that now. Personally I am already looking at next year, and eying future possible hits. Here is a list of movies that catched the industry´s attention so far at this year at Sundance movie festival. More to come as the festival progresses!
"Salvation Boulevard" by George Ratliff. The cast is full of star names: Jennifer Connolly, Pierce Brosnan, Marisa Tomei, Ed Harris, Greg Kinear. This is a comedy/thriller about a born-again Christian escaping from the fundamentalist members of his mega-church. The storyline seems very promising and current, considering the state of religion in North America these days.
"Martha Marcy May Marlene" , film directed by T. Sean Durkin has gained a lot of buzz mainly because of the lead performance by Elizabeth Olsen (yes, the sister of those cape-dressing twins). Olsen plays a young girl trying to rebuild her life after fleeing from a religious cult. Another great topic of the times.
Another appealing movie about religion. If Sarah Palin and the tea-party have done anything, is putting this topic of God back into our radar. "The Ledge" by Mathew Chapman deals with an atheist arguing and then fighting with a conservative Christian. Homophobia is also present. Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson star in this film.
And the stream of religious topics wont´t end! What on earth is going on over here! (I blame it on Fox News, the source of reliable and unbiased public information) This time it is "The Red State" by Kevin Smith, and it is horror. A group of teens come in contact with mid-western religious fanatics, and all hell gets loose. The movie has not gained as much buzz as Smith´s crafty idea to self-promote and self-distribute the movie with a 12-city roadshow tour. He plans to utilize his 1.7 million Twitter followers, rent theaters and charge premium ticket prizes in order to pay back his financiers before the official October release date. Hmm.
Think this theme is done and used for this year´s Sundance? Think again. Vera Farmiga stars in and directs "Higher Ground", where a woman struggles with her faith after spending 20 years with a cult. Farmiga has gotten praise for her directorial debut and she is sure to be watched in the future.
"Margin Call" by J.C. Chandor was the most anticipated movie on this year´s Sundance. This piece has an impressive cast with names such as Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Mary McDonnell and Jeremy Irons, along others. "Margin Call" retells the story of the early stages of the 2008 financial meltdown over a 24-hour period in an investment bank. So far the reviews for this movie have been mixed. The first scene is supposedly brilliant, but the rest of the movie lacks the promise. It is safe to say that between now and October 2011 (which is the official release date) anything could happen. Films are known to be even re-edited after the initial pre-screenings at the festival circuit. People might also have high expectations for this touchy topic and how to handle it. Director Chandor has decided to approach this theme with a heavily dialogue-filled angle, which might not please the audiences or turn out to be commercially lucrative.
Even Al Pacino cannot make it a success every time. "The Son of No One" starring Pacino, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta and Juliette Binoche was reportedly so weak, that the screening on Monday resulted in "an exodus" of people all though the screening. Hardly anyone (who was left) applauded afterwards.