It’s time for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, and we are excited to check out all of the films at the festival. Then again, there are over 100 films to watch this year, making that process a little difficult. With that in mind, we wanted to weigh in with some of our Most Anticipated films of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. This will be Part 1 – which will only address the narrative features. . Check back for Part 2, where we discuss the documentaries.
Cassandro – Directed by Roger Ross Williams
Wrestling will be a theme of 2023 in theaters. The first one off the ropes will be Cassandro, directed by Roger Ross Williams. An Oscar-winning director in Documentary short, Williams continued to build up his credentials in documentary feature. After earning another Oscar nomination for Life, Animated, he makes his narrative feature debut. Stills from Cassandro show a transformative character from Gael García Bernal. It’s impossible to make a list without this one near the top.
A Little Prayer – Directed by Angus MacLachlan
The combination of Jane Levy and David Strathairn makes this one catnip for me. Levy has proven herself an extremely capable actress and may be primed for an Oscar nomination in the future. While Angus MacLachlan has not had the strongest directorial career to date, his Junebug pedigree makes this a potential sleep. Strathairn deserves another big role, and this indie drama might do it for him.
Landscape with Invisible Hand – Directed by Corey Finley
A combination of interesting source material and a great director makes Landscape with Invisible Hand an awfully appealing choice. The cast is loaded. The ensemble includes Asante Blackk, Tiffany Haddish, Kylie Rogers, Josh Hamilton, William Jackson-Harper, and Michael Gandolfini. Aliens are central to the film’s plot, adding to the intrigue. Finley’s screenplays are often very sharp, and with this cast in tow, he could set himself up for a mainstream breakthrough.
Cat Person – Directed by Susanna Fogel
One of the stranger cultural moments of the past decade surrounded a New Yorker story from 2017. The short story, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, had many arguing about it’s perspective on dating. Turning the short story into a film has the ability to clarify a few issues, but it also gives director Susanna Fogel an exciting canvas. Tone will be the name of the game here. Fogel’s screenwriting credit on Booksmart, as well as her directorial record on The Flight Attendant, shows tonal management is in her wheelhouse. Emilia Jones from CODA stars, with Nicholas Braun, Hope Davis, Michael Gandolfini, and the excellent Geraldine Viswanathan filling out the cast.
You Hurt My Feelings – Directed by Nichole Holofcener
I’m here for Ms. Holofcener. Whatever stories she feels like telling, I’m interested. Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘ best performance in the film came from a Holofcener-directed picture as well. This may be a studio takeover of Park City, but it’s a welcomed one.
The Accidental Getaway Driver – Directed by Sing J. Lee
The wild but true story of a Vietnamese immigrant driver held hostage by escaped convicts. Placed in Southern California, the story appears set to be an intense thriller. Director Sing J. Lee will be a name to watch. The director comes from the world of music videos. It’s already a fruitful ground, but when you can direct for Migos, Chvrches, The Killers, and Alicia Keys, you’ve got range.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt – Directed by Raven Jackson
A combination of visually stunning photography and the promise of expressionist filmmaking made this one pop for us. Moses Ingram has already emerged as an alluring screen presence in The Queen’s Gambit and Obi-Wan Kenobi, but her limited role in The Tragedy of Macbeth was instantly breathtaking. Meanwhile, Sheila Atim is riding her own shining star. Roles in The Underground Railroad and The Woman King were impossible to ignore. As they take center stage, Raven Jackson may announce herself as a filmmaker to watch.
Fair Play – Directed by Chloe Domont
Phoebe Dynevor is taking her first big Bridgerton follow-up. Alden Ehrenreich has been gone far too long. Yet the story in Fair Play appears to be writer/director Chloe Domont. After years of crafting shorts, there are already many talking up her cinematography and tense script. If it’s a two-hander, we’re even more excited for the psychological warfare to begin.
Magazine Dreams – Directed by Elijah Bynum
Get ready for the year of Jonathan Majors. The actor is set to take over the next few months, appearing in Ant-Man, Creed, and and Magazine Dreams by the end of April. Tony Gilroy is on-board as a producer, so we know the screenplay will be tight. Elijah Bynum returns to the director’s chair, looking to deliver on his promise from Hot Summer Nights.
Shortcomings – Directed by Randall Park
This has been a long time coming. Randall Park established himself as a comedic voice more than a decade ago. The fact that it took this long for his first feature to premiere is another conversation altogether. Now that it’s finally happened, it’s exciting to see very funny actors come to bat for him. Side note, Justin H. Min was robbed this past year for After Yang.
Infinity Pool – Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Brandon Cronenberg already established himself as a name with Possessor in 2020. He takes another crack at horror in Infinity Pool and stars one of the genre’s queens. Infinity Pool gets to set up Mia Goth in the first of several starring roles she’ll take in 2023. Starring opposite the electrifying Alexander Skarsgård only increases the excitement. The trailer drop put this toward the tops of horror fans 2023 want lists, and now we’re mere weeks away from a premiere.
Run Rabbit Run – Directed by Daina Reid
A terrifying title, an upsetting synopsis, and Sarah Snook hooked us. The story of a fertility doctor and a seemingly creepy child seems primed to scare the shit out of us. Director Daina Reid has a long history of success in television. In fact, “her directorial “Holly” remains one of the very best episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale to date. She can handle complex political ideas and create real tension for the audience. Her feature in more than a decade stands a chance to give her a strong platform moving forward.
My Animal – Directed by Jacqueline Castel
We’ve got a rather good idea about which kind of monster we’ll see in My Animal, but we could not be more excited. The werewolf story elements are not being kept secret, but using a lycanthrope story as a backdoor into a tale of sexual and emotional transformation opens the door for a rather interesting story. Director Jacqueline Castel‘s shorts have already made noise in horror circles. With Bobbi Salvör Menuez prepped as a breakout and Amandla Stenberg continuing to deliver strong performances, My Animal could quickly become the talk of the festival.
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls – Directed by Andrew Bowser
The viral sensation gets the bump up to feature films, and who could be more excited? Andrew Bowser, the creator of the Onyx the Fortuitous character, went viral for the first time more than a decade ago. Now, Onyx gets to star in his very own movie and seems primed for a breakout hit. If Bowser, who also directs and writes the film, will need to keep the tone and energy of his viral content for more than 90 minutes. If he can accomplish that, expect this to be a sleeper hit in 2023.
Talk to Me – Directed by Danny and Michael Philippou
No image conveys genuine fear like the one used to market Talk to Me from directors Danny and Michael Philippou. The brothers created the YouTube channel @RackaRacka in the early 2010s, and have gone on to score more than 6 million subscribers over time. Most of my curiosity lies in that aspect. Creating a horror film that engages with new social media aesthetics may be a key aspect of helping film survive in the long term. Can something like Talk to Me score with traditional horror audiences?