Still talking about the 2012 Spirit Award nominations?  Man, how lame are you.  All the cool kids are talking about the 2013 Spirit Awards!

The Sundance Film Festival just announced the films that’ll be playing next year.  Which is relevant because about half the films that played in the Dramatic Competition last year ended up with Spirit nominations.  So let’s handicap the upcoming crop of films, based solely on the plot descriptions and cast from the Sundance website.

Beasts of the Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: I have absolutely no idea what that description means, but I’m in.  And also considering naming my first-born Quvenzhane.  But sounds a little too out there for the Spirits.

The Comedy / U.S.A. (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary) — Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson whiles away his days with a group of aging Brooklyn hipsters, engaging in small acts of recreational cruelty and pacified boredom. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen, Gregg Turkington.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: A film about ennui in New York?  Those are two pretty huge check marks.  And it would help if that title is ironic.  Big problem, though.  That Tim and Eric in the cast list?  That’s THE Tim and Eric of Awesome Show, Great Job fame.  So it is hard to see much Spirit love.

The End of Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mark Webber) — A young father unravels following the loss of the mother of his child. Cast: Mark Webber, Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Cera, Jason Ritter, Amanda Seyfried, Frankie Shaw.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Well that’s an unhelpful yet decidedly Spirit-friendly description.  I’m absolutely in love with that cast, though, and the Spirits aren’t necessarily afraid of nomination younger actors.  Seems like it has Spirit potential.  Plus, Mark Webber is Stephen Stills from Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.

 

Filly Brown / U.S.A. (Directors: Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos, Screenwriter: Youssef Delara) — A Hip Hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through music.Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: One thing you should know about me is that one year for my birthday my brothers got me a three pack of Lou Diamond Phillips DVDs.  I cannot tell you how excited I would be for him to be nominated.  This one sounds unlikely to hit, but if it does, Edward James Olmos is a prime supporting actor candidate.

The First Time / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan) — Two high schoolers meet at a party. Over the course of a weekend, things turn magical, romantic, complicated and funny, as they discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Not unless they let me be on the nominating committee.

For Ellen / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: So Yong Kim) — A struggling musician takes an overnight long-distance drive in order to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter. Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shay Mandigo.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Has to be a favorite.  So Yong Kim has a directing credit on Spirit nominee The Exploding Girl, and Dano, Heder, Malone, and Levieva are chock full of indie cred.  Plus the description has “struggling”, “estranged”, and “custody” in it.

Hello I Must Be Going / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Louiso, Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff) — Divorced, childless, demoralized and condemned to move back in with her parents at the age of 35, Amy Minsky’s prospects look bleak – until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, Julie White.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: I’m smelling an Actress and/or Supporting Actress nomination.  Lynskey seems due (and deserving) and who doesn’t like Blythe Danner?  Louiso, if you don’t know, is the non-Jack Black guy from High Fidelity.  He also directed The Mark Pease Experience which was underwhelming but also about a teenager’s relationship with an adult, so that’s a creepy pattern.

Keep the Lights On / U.S.A. (Director: Ira Sachs, Screenwriters: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias) —An autobiographically inspired story of a passionate long-term relationship between two men driven by addiction and secrets but bound by love and hopefulness. Cast: Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson, Souleymane Sy Savane, Paprika Steen.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Yes.  Even if they have to make up a new category, this film seems a shoo-in.  Savane already had a Spirit nomination, for Goodbye Solo.

LUV / U.S.A. (Director: Sheldon Candis, Screenwriters: Sheldon Candis, Justin Wilson) — An orphaned 11-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasant truth about his beloved uncle during one harrowing day in the streets of Baltimore. Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Of course one of these films had to be “harrowing”.  Maybe if it counts as a first feature?  Or has lots of Orioles references.  I hear Spirit voters love that.  I could see it, but the fact that Common is in it makes me a little skeptical.  Love the guy, but I watched Just Wright.

Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Seems like a pretty good shot for something.

Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Seems like it’d be silly to bet against anything Lena Dunham at this point.  Heck of a cast, by the way.  Two Grouch favorites in Thirlby and DeWitt probably means it’ll get shafted, though.

Safety Not Guaranteed / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karen Soni.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Nope.  Well, I would have said that about Another Earth, but nope.  That said, I’m already in line for the movie.

Save the Date / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Mohan, Screenwriters: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan) — As her sister Beth prepares to get married, Sarah finds herself caught up in an intense post-breakup rebound. The two fumble through the redefined emotional landscape of modern day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved. Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Not a chance, but ladies and gentleman, your front-runner for Jared’s favorite movie of 2012.

Simon Killer / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Antonio Campos) — A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Once there, he falls in love with a young prostitute and their fateful journey begins. Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul, Solo.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Seriously, what it is with the French and young prostitutes?  I’m guessing no, but that’s based on connection “killer” and “fateful journey”.  But if there’s more ennui and self-discovery, maybe.

Smashed / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and… drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie.Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: This film sounds so good, right?  It isn’t just me?  I’m already excited.  If the film isn’t too funny, I could see it happening.  That’s a really talented cast right there.

The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist with an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

SPIRIT OUTLOOK: Is there somewhere I can put a bet on this movie winning the 2013 Spirit Awards?  I mean, come on.  This one has to be a joke, right?  I dare you to put together a more likely contender.

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