Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sundance 2012 - All 55 Films I Saw, How I Rate Them

Sundance 2012 is over and my final count of movies seen comes to 55 - a personal best and one I'm not likely to top again.

Here's everything I saw, followed by how I'd rate it on a 5-point scale where 5 means I loved it and 1 means I hated it.

Queen of Versailles (4)
Hello I Must Be Going (4)
Searching for Sugarman (4)
I Am Not a Hipster (4)
About the Pink Sky (2)
Keep the Lights On (4)
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2)
Marina Abramovic - The Artist Is Present (4)
Detropia (3)
Robot and Frank (3)
My Best Day (3)
Me at the Zoo (2)
Black Rock (3)
The House I Live In (4)
The Pursuit of Loneliness (2)
Liberal Arts (4)
Red Hook Summer (1)
For a Good Time, Call... (5)
V/H/S (4)
Corpo Celeste (4)
Oslo, August 31st (5)
2 Days in New York (3)
The End of Love (3)
Grabbers (3)
The Surrogate (4)
Save the Date (3)
Gypsy Davy (4)
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (3)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (5)
Wrong (2)
Shadow Dancer (3)
Indie Game (4)
The First Time (1)
Wish You Were Here (3)
This Must Be the Place (3)
Shut Up and Play the Hits (4)
The Ambassador (3)
Safety Not Guaranteed (4)
The Comedy (3)
Teddy Bear (5)
Slavery by Another Name (3)
Room 237 (3)
The Impostor (3)
Sleepwalk With Me(4)
Smashed (3)
28 Hotel Rooms (5)
Young & Wild (4)
Price Check (4)
The Invisible War (5)
Love Free or Die (3)
Bachelorette (2)
Arbitrage (4)
Violeta Went to Heaven (3)
My Brother the Devil (3)
Chasing Ice (4)

You'll see that my favorites were Teddy Bear, Oslo August 31st,  28 Hotel Rooms, The Invisible War, Beasts of the Southern Wild and For A Good Time Call. 

When I get back from Sundance every year I am inevitably asked what movies folks should look out for.  My recommendations for my non-film-obsessed friends might vary a bit from the short list of movies I gave a "5" rating to, though. What I think will make a big splash in the specialty (if not mainstream) movie market in the next year are two movies - The Surrogate and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Surrogate is with Helen Hunt (the sex surrogate) and John Hawkes (the iron lung-confined polio survivor who hires Hunt to help him).  Audiences here freaked out about the performances (rightfully so) and the inspirational, moving tale of a disabled man exploring his sexuality for the first time in an attempt to live life to its fullest.

Beasts of the Southern Wild was the breakout discovery of the festival, the one people on the streets from casual moviegoer to filmmaker to critic couldn't help but gush over.  It's pretty hard to describe, but definitely be on the lookout for it.

I hope that The Invisible War gets a very wide release because it was the documentary that moved me the most of any.  It can best be described as an enraging look at the epidemic of rape in the US armed forces.  Well-made documentary, engaging subjects, important issue.

Bachelorette was in the premiere section and has a big name cast (Kirsten Dunst, James Marsden, Isla Fischer, etc) and will no doubt get a wide release but I would advise against seeing it unless you want to spend 1.5 hours shaking your head and glaring.   What a group of hateful and annoying people.

You may hear about Arbitrage a great deal in the coming year as well, and rightfully so - it had a great story and solid performance by Richard Gere as a billionaire who is faced with intense pressure in a week where his personal and professional life is falling apart around him. 

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