Sundance 2017: The 5 Breakout Films You Need to Know About

The Sundance Film Festival has played host to the world premieres of some of the best independent films of the last few decades. It’s where Reservoir Dogs first exploded onto the scene, where Little Miss Sunshine spurred a massive bidding war, and in recent years is where films like Boyhood, Manchester by the Sea, and Whiplash made their debut.

We here at Collider just wrapped up covering yet another Sundance Film Festival (read all of our coverage here), but since most of these films won’t be available to audiences for some time, we wanted to make sure and highlight them early. Below, Collider’s own Adam Chitwood and Matt Goldberg have selected five films from this year’s Sundance that you definitely need to put on your radar.

The Big Sick

Directed by Michael Showalter (The Baxter) and co-written by real couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick follows a stand-up comic in Chicago (Nanjiani) who falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan), but struggles to hide it from his parents, who want him to have an arranged marriage. When Emily gets sick, Kumail is forced to consider her feelings for her as he begins an awkward relationship with Emily’s parents (played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano). It’s the easiest recommendation I can make from this year’s Sundance. It’s a crowd-pleaser of the highest order that I can’t wait to see again. The film is hilarious, sweet, heartfelt, and one I can’t wait to see again. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll ever see. – Matt Goldberg

Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name is the new film from A Bigger Splash and I Am Love filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, and it’s an absolutely masterful, hypnotic summer romance. The story takes place in the 1980s, where a young Italian-American boy played by Timothee Chalamet is spending the summer with his family in northern Italy. An American research assistant played by Armie Hammer arrives to spend the summer working with the boy’s father (played by Michael Stuhlbarg), but soon Chalamet’s character and Hammer’s character strike up a romance that is all consuming. The film is a rapturous, sensual, moving coming-of-age and coming-out story of first love, and features a jaw-dropping performance from Chalamet that will almost certainly land him on the Oscar shortlist. Hammer, too, is incredible, and as if all this gushing wasn’t enough, it features two original songs by Sufjan Stevens. – Adam Chitwood

Get Out

While many may know Jordan Peele as part of the sketch comedy duo Key & Peele, he makes his name as a talented horror director with his latest feature Get Out. The story plays like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? meets The Stepford Wives as a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya) goes with his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) to meet her parents at their country house but makes some disturbing discoveries. It’s a searing piece on white privilege and control that never ceases to be creepy and unexpectedly comic. It’s one of the sharpest horror films to come along in years, and I’m excited for people to see it next month. – Matt Goldberg


The Southern epic Mudbound is a narratively ambitious tale of family, friends, and racism in World War II-era Mississippi. Garrett Hedlund and Straight Outta Compton standout Jason Mitchell lead a tremendous ensemble cast that also includes Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, and Mary J. Blige, telling the story of two family dynasties trying to survive in the Jim Crow south. Pariah filmmaker Dee Rees steps up to a much larger scale and knocks it out of the park, as she juggles a film with multiple narratives without short-changing a single character. It’s a film that is, sadly, all too relevant today, and marks a firey statement from Rees that she is one of the most ambitious and exciting directors working today. – Adam Chitwood

A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story is absolutely one of the weirdest movies you’ll see all year, and while it may not be for everyone, it’s undoubtedly a wholly unique kind of love story. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon filmmaker David Lowery shot this one under the radar in Texas with a cast that consists solely of Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, with Affleck pulling a Frank and donning a white sheet with eyehold cut out for the majority of the film’s runtime. The story follows this apparition as he watches over his house and grieving wife with sorrow and love, and it unfolds in the most spectacular yet unexpected manner possible. And yes, the rumors are true: there is a scene in which Mara eats pie in one long, unbroken take for five minutes. Funny, sad, emotional, depressing—A Ghost Story is absolutely unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. – Adam Chitwood

To catch up on all of Collider’s Sundance 2017 coverage, including reviews and interviews, click here.

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