And now, part three of Ian and Jared’s fantasy Sundance draft. If you missed it, check out part one for scoring and the first four picks and parts two and three.
With the thirteenth pick of the 2014 Fantasy Sundance Draft, Jared takes…
Jared: And the thing is, I’m not really a fan of mumblecore at all. But I think you ignore a cast of Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, and Lena Dunham at your own peril. And while it would be a surprise to see a mumblecore movie get a big win, I will note that the genre has been crossing over some. Well, crossing over to the mainstream indie world, at any rate. Your Sister’s Sister received some acclaim. And writer/director Joe Swanberg’s 2013 release (also co-starring Anna Kendrick), Drinking Buddies, received some attention, including featuring on Quentin Tarantino’s list of the top ten films of the year. I just watched the film, actually, and while Mr. Tarantino happens to be wrong in this case, I do see the potential for Swanberg to have some bigger “success” at some point in the future.
Ian: I don’t want to ignore the cast of Happy Christmas at all. I’m probably more predisposed to mumblecore than you, and I’ve liked everybody involved in this movie in at least one project or another. But I do think the verite style is not well-suited for winning flashier awards, and the subject of this movie also feels on the smaller side. That’s no knock against the movie, in fact I expect to like the movie, I just find it hard to imagine this comedy of manners with already established actors giving established performances finding much in the way of momentum. Of course, you have to pick something towards the end of the draft, and while I’d probably still choose a different movie that took a bigger swing, I understand the impulse to go with a surer established winner.
With the fourteenth pick of the 2014 Fantasy Sundance Draft, Ian takes…
Jamie Marks is Dead
Ian: I actually have some hope for this film, which seems to mash a coming-of-age story of sexual awakening together with a horror film. Carter Smith, the director, locked down a Jury Prize with Bugcrush, a short film that combined many of the same elements. Here, the movie will rely upon its young leads, and that’s where I think it may similarly score well. Morgan Saylor is a terrific young actress who carved a bigger role for herself in Homeland with her work, even as the show descended into inanity, and I don’t mean a slight when I say that Cameron Monaghan gives one of my four favorite performances on Shameless. Between the cinematography, script, direction, and jury prize, this movie seems like it has an outside shot in several categories.
Jared: I tend to shy away from supernatural and horror films with my awards picks. And while Carter Smith does have a Sundance pedigree, I’ll also point out that he last directed The Ruins, which isn’t exactly the most encouraging sign. Alex Orlovsky has a producing credit on the film, he comes from Half Nelson and Blue Valentine, so there’s some promise there, even if Ryan Gosling is nowhere in sight here. I agree about the young acting talent here, which definitely has significant promise.
With the fifteenth pick of the 2014 Fantasy Sundance Draft, Ian takes…
Life After Beth
Ian: Now this movie, on the other hand, looks like total garbage. I would have handed it back to you to close out our draft, except that I liked the idea of ending with an indie zombie two-fer. If I were to advocate for my pick, I’d say that this movie will require excellent execution to work, and if it does work, it may have more screenwriting and visual flair than some moribund traditional Sundance film. I could see a movie like this being funny and surprisingly heartfelt, even if I find it hard to imagine that those tones can come from the co-writer of I Heart Huckabees. The actors may also help to elevate the material. Dane de Haan seems like a Sundance star in the making, and Aubrey Plaza…well, she can’t very well turn down her boyfriend for a role, can she?
Jared: I mean, I’m hoping I get to see this one while I’m at the festival. But the official Sundance description includes a terribly punny joke, so I think the film was taken at slot. Maybe it is “wickedly funny” and/or “shockingly poignant” and the film picks up an audience award or something, but it is difficult to see a clear path to awards.
With the final pick of the 2014 Fantasy Sundance Draft, Jared takes…
Jared: I think I fell asleep reading the official Sundance description of this film. I guess I’m having a difficult time figuring out this film’s hook. Maybe it it just difficult to market or summarize or something. Plus it is a Norwegian co-production, and I get the sense Sundance is a better play for more “American”-type films. When I was doing my initial rankings, I had the film near the bottom of the list and never really saw a reason to move it.
Ian: This may be a case of too much knowledge being a bad thing, but unlike the other 15 movies, I saw the trailer to The Sleepwalker beforehand. And yes, it’s now ranked dead last. So, word to the wise on the people who made the trailer…maybe a re-cut? I don’t think this is as moribund as Austenland or The Lifeguard were last year, but boy, does this movie ever seem rote. The setting and the ambiance are unusual, but the performances seemed pallid, and there’s not a lot of proof to the contrary in any of their respective bodies of work to date. I keep trying to avoid the word sleepy, because it’s so obvious, but yeah. The title has become reality. That said, just in case you are randomly googling this and you worked on the movie or are just a major fan, a good thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know what we’re talking about here. Good luck in the fantasy Sundance season!
And that’s a wrap. Thanks to everyone (or no one, as is more likely) for reading, and I’ll hopefully have good things to report back from Sundance.