Photographs by Henny Garfunkel
The freeze is over! At least for buyers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. During a week in which last year’s crop (including Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, and nearly all the nominated documentaries) earned a total of fourteen Oscar nominations, at least 21 films have sold at this year’s festival—the best record in years. The sluggish buying of 2010 turned into daily deals, with two of the biggest courtesy of the Weinsteins, who paid upward of $6 million for My Idiot Brother (with Paul Rudd) and $8 million for the dark comedy The Details (starring Tobey Maguire). The festival is known for breaking stars, and this year was no exception, with many appearing in more than one film: There were the requisite ingenues (particularly Elizabeth Olsen, younger sibling of those twins), and so many green feature filmmakers (thanks to festival founder Robert Redford’s insistence on new talent) that Fox Searchlight bought films by three—Mike Cahill, T. Sean Durkin, and Gavin Wiesen. Favored veterans returned, like writer-director Miranda July. Even the weather was cooperative: snowy enough for skiing, yet warm enough for starlets to strut down Main Street in sky-high heels—an ingredient Sundance simply can’t do without.
Film: The Future.
The Hipster Auteur: July’s follow-up to the 2005 sensation Me and You and Everyone We Know won near-unanimous acclaim and served as an excellent refutation of the sophomore slump.
Film’s Status: Bought by Roadside Attractions Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Film: Like Crazy.
This Year’s Carey Mulligan: The British actress and Oxford grad announced herself in a big way with the romantic drama Like Crazy. For the film, she and co-star Anton Yelchin”playing a long-distance couple yearning to connect”improvised nearly all of their dialogue.
Film’s Status: Bought by Paramount. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Film: Take Shelter.
The Next Philip Seymour Hoffman: Like Hoffman, Shannon’s an Oscar-nominated Sundance vet who’s worked his way up via indie films. His thrilling intensity”as seen on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire“is profoundly disturbing in Take Shelter, in which he plays an ordinary man driven to madness by apocalyptic visions.
Film’s Status: Bought by Sony Pictures Classics. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Films: Another Earth,Sound of My Voice.
The Thinking Man’s Ingenue: She’s had festival success before as co-director of the 2005 documentary Boxers and Ballerinas. This time she not only co-wrote two features; she stars in them, too. Guess that makes her a double-double threat.
Films’ Statuses: Earth bought by Fox Searchlight; Voice on the market. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Films at Sundance: Another Happy Day, Little Birds.
The Comeback Kid: She was the next big thing after the 2002 surfer flick Blue Crush“a promise wiped out by a slew of flops. But as a troubled woman with an estranged father in the black comedy Another Happy Day, the actress may have caught another wave.
Films’ Statuses: Both films on the market. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Films: Hobo With a Shotgun,The Mill & the Cross.
Return Of The Maniac: The Blade Runner star reclaims his deranged badass rep with a hobo-vigilante movie. The senior citizen insisted on doing the more disgusting stunts himself, like flinging himself from a roof onto a pile of garbage.
Films’ Statuses: Hobo bought by Magnet Releasing; Mill on the market. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Films: Martha Marcy May Marlene, Higher Ground.
The Oscar Nominee: If there were assists in film, like in basketball, Hawkes would be the Steve Nash of Sundance: In last year’s Winter’s Bone, he brought out the best in fellow nominee Jennifer Lawrence. This year, he’s a deeply creepy cult leader opposite festival breakout Elizabeth Olsen.
Films’ Statuses: Martha bought by Fox Searchlight; Ground on the market. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Film: Higher Ground.
The Actress Who Wanted to Direct: The pregnant Farmiga makes a strong debut with a religious drama, in which she also stars. “We did preproduction in my first trimester, production in my second, and post in the third. There were a lot of things gestating and being born.”
Film’s Status: On the market. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Film: Win Win.
The Regular: The Sundance regular has hit three of the last four festivals. This time, he’s in fellow vet Tom McCarthy’s drama (co-starring Amy Ryan), playing a dissipated attorney who wades deep into the very strange world of high-school wrestling in suburban New Jersey.
Film’s Status: A Fox Searchlight release on March 18. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Film: The Devil’s Double.
The Knockout Twofer: Cooper (memorable in An Education and The History Boys) rips into his biggest role yet, playing Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son Uday and the decent man forced to be his body double. The gritty, torture-filled true story rides on his brilliant turn.
Film’s Status: Bought by Lionsgate. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Brooklyn’s Own: The Sunset Park”raised Oduye was doing theater in New Haven and had done bit parts on TV when she landed this lead role. Her deeply affecting performance turns the shyness of a lesbian teen struggling to come out to her parents into a quiet power.
Film’s Status: On the market Update: Bought by Focus Features. Photo: Henny Garfunkel
Film: My Idiot Brother.
The Beard: In this sweetest of comedies, Rudd is irresistible playing a bearded hippie brother housed by his uptight sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel). The only downside for Rudd? Shooting during a brutal New York summer: “Not good beard weather.”
Film’s Status: Bought by the Weinstein Company. Photo: Henny Garfunkel