CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Independent, Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Sundance, Noir, Mystery & Suspense, IFC, Magnolia, Sony Classics, Distribution, Fox Searchlight, Movie News, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
(Warning: This one goes up to eleven...)
1. Moon -- Most were admittedly intrigued by the prospect of Sam Rockwell alone and yet potentially not on a lunar station going into the fest, and this seemed to be the first film to live up to its promise as a modest yet straight-up sci-fi endeavor (that just happened to have a Kevin Spacey-voiced robot, and just tell me you wouldn't want one of those waking you up and telling you to pay it forward all the friggin' time).
2. 500 Days of Summer -- I'd liked the vague stuff I'd been hearing about this one going into the fest as well -- namely, "Zooey Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel" -- and I certainly liked the teaser trailer that made its way out just hours before the film's formal premiere. Does it look like Fox Searchlight's particular brand of indie hipster quirk that's just begging to get too popular for its own good by about Labor Day? Sure, but if it's as adorable as it seems, that's a chance I'm willing to take, Zooey.
3. Big Fan -- I may not be a sports fan (actually, no 'maybe's about it), but while I liked the sound of Patton Oswalt coping with an assault by His Favorite Player Of All Time when I thought it was a comedy (which I now understand it really isn't), the inclusion of writer/director Robert Siegel (he wrote The Wrestler) made me all the more intrigued about its apparently darker tone, and I'm happy to hear, from here and elsewhere, that he's made something that you don't have to care about the Giants to enjoy (because I don't, I really don't).
4. Black Dynamite -- You know, the very earliest rumblings I heard on this flick just before the festival was that it was terrible, one joke played out for far too long to enjoy, and a reviewer or two did come to share those sentiments. However, I'm glad that the consensus appears to be that this blaxploitation send-up appears to be every bit as hilarious as its red-band trailer promised, and better than that, this opposite of a jive turkey got picked up by Sony for distribution.
5. Humpday -- I never thought I'd say this, but it became a swift pity that I didn't get to see this mid-life man-on-man mumble-porn riff, described ad naseum as Zack and Another Guy's Name Make a Porno and yet so much more than that in the end (pun barely intended), both awkwardly funny and oddly touching (again, pun not quite intended), and seemingly worthy of Magnolia's slate of release. If it's good enough for them...
6. World's Greatest Dad -- When I gave Scott a call earlier this week (to make sure I hadn't been fired for enjoying Outlander), he either had or hadn't seen this movie, but nonetheless proceeded to spill out this lengthy and detailed description of what sounded like the first act, only seeming to stop because Snider and Davis saw fit to stop him. Well, what sounded like the type of darkly comedic premise that could easily go awry and become a thing of festival lore -- Robin Williams gets famous after he fakes his son's suicide note -- turned out to be a terrific black comedy which, despite director Bob Goldthwait, was neither screechy nor unfunny.
7. In the Loop / Mystery Team -- One's a sharp political satire in the war of words, the other's a tale of overgrown kid detectives solving a tale of murder most foul, and they're both in this slot because it's called "Cinematical Seven" and for me to name any more than that would be tantamount to spitting on this institution we know as the love of film.
Not quite 8: the uber-honorable mentions.
An Education -- Numerous Twitter reactions to this film were as follows: "Movie's good, Carey Mulligan's great." Sheesh, people, you had me at "scripted by Nick Hornby."
The Missing Person -- You had me at "Michael Shannon as private eye."
We Live in Public -- You had me at "scathing depiction of our technology-dependent society, lol."