What’s hot at Sundance 2019

Amazon took control of the market this year, spending a record $47 million while other studios like Fox Searchlight remained relatively quiet.

“Brittany Runs a Marathon” (Amazon)

After co-writing the comedy film “Rough Night,” Paul W. Downs (“Broad City”) makes his directorial debut with this story about a New York woman who takes control of her life and starts training for a marathon. “Workaholics” favorite Jillian Bell gets her first starring role as Brittany in this indie comedy that Amazon is preparing for an August release.

“The Farewell” (A24)

Not unlike Tiffany Haddish or Amy Schumer’s breakouts, 2018 was the year of comedian Awkwafina. The young starlet hosted “Saturday Night Live,” and was the highlight of two major studio movie hits, “Ocean’s 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” Surprising us all in a good way, her next move is a dramatic performance as a Chinese American woman who returns to China after her grandmother is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. “The Farewell” is directed by Lulu Wang.

“The Report” (Amazon)

Likely the most awards-friendly title coming out of this year’s festival stars Annette Bening and Adam Driver, who are assigned to investigate the extreme interrogation tactics used by the CIA in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Directed by Scott Z. Burns and setting its sights on a fall release, the film looks to be a showcase for its Oscar-nominated cast.

“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” (Netflix)

This is the Zac Efron/Ted Bundy project everyone – and I mean everyone – has been talking about. Co-starring Lily Collins, the movie recounts the life and crimes of America’s most infamous serial killer from his wife’s perspective. It remains unseen whether or not the charming star can pull this role off, but with Netflix handling the film’s distribution, it shouldn’t have a hard time finding its audience.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (A24)

Sure to be a hit for arthouse distributor A24, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” takes a realistic approach to the issue of gentrification in the Golden City. Centering around a young man who searches for a home in the evolving housing landscape, it features an ensemble cast including Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Mike Epps, Finn Wittrock and Thora Birch.

“Late Night” (Amazon)

Long gone are the glorious days of the 80s workplace comedy. Though that era has ended, Mindy Kaling (“The Office”) kept it in mind while writing her first feature screenplay. Directed by Nisha Ganatra, “Late Night” is about an aging talk show host (Emma Thompson) who hires a female writer (Kaling) to re-energize the show. Purchased by Amazon at the festival for $13 million, the distributor will aim for a commercial hit like “The Big Sick.”

“Honey Boy” (Amazon)

Is this Shia LaBeouf’s comeback? In any case, “Honey Boy” is a deeply personal story for the artist who acts in and wrote the film. With the help of Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe, who play younger versions of himself, the movie follows a child actor who tries to reconnect with his dysfunctional father. Natasha Lyonne and Maika Monroe also make appearances.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

More Stories