If you’ve been keeping up with our 2018 Sundance Sales Sheet, you might be wondering what happened with some of the other buzz-worthy films from this year’s festival. Having attended the festival and seen a lot of great films that have yet to be picked up, I’ve been wondering the same thing. Sadly, I don’t have much insight into whether any of the following movies are even close to acquisition yet, but here’s some of the movies that are puzzling who no one has jumped on them yet.
The Catcher Was a Spy
Maybe I was a bigger fan of Ben (The Sessions) Lewin’s WWII drama starring Paul Rudd than others were. I was genuinely impressed with the look and scale of the film about Boston Red Sox catcher Moe Berg, who was assigned a dangerous mission to find and possibly kill Nazi scientist Werner Heisenberg, as played by Mark Strong. It’s clearly meant as a serious drama for older moviegoers, and a company like Sony Pictures Classics or Bleecker Street could do very well with it. While someone figures out what to do with it, you can read my interview with the director, who talks at length about researching and making the film.
The Long Dumb Road
Hannah Fidell’s road comedy starring Jason Mantzoukas (The League) and Tony Rivelori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) was one of the funnier films I saw at Sundance, although it had the unfortunate position of screening on the closing Friday before the even bigger crowd-pleaser, Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud. Even so, the laughter at the press screening of this I attended bolstered my feelings about the movie, and it’s quite a departure for Fidell, who should be able to get a lot more directing work out of it. This could easily be marketed towards a wider audience with the right company behind it.
Lords of Chaos
I didn’t get to see the new film from prolific music video director Jonas Akerlund that premiered during the Midnight section, but Drew McWeeny liked it, as did Jeff Sneider. The only reason I’m dubious is that I still remember Akerlund’s last Sundance film, 2003’s Spun, which is about as far from mainstream as one can get. Anyway, this is a movie set in the world of metal, and that alone interests me, so maybe someone will snag it eventually.
On the other hand, Jeff didn’t like the new movie from Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow) as much as Drew did, and sadly I missed it despite being a fan of Cosmatos’ previous film. It sounds absolutely bonkers, and it stars Nicolas Cage, who hasn’t exactly been driving people to theaters any time recently. Still, the thought of Cosmatos teaming with Cage for a movie that’s reportedly quite bonkers is intriguing. Maybe Magnolia Pictures realized how tough it was to sell Black Rainbow and decided not to bother with this one.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The very last film I saw at Sundance was this drama from filmmaker Desiree Akhavan that starred Chloë Grace Moretz as a teenager sent to a Christian conversion camp when they catch her making out with a female friend. Akhavan’s film won the prestigious Grand Jury prize for a dramatic film and yet, not a single distributor has acquired this very timely and relevant film. Sure, it’s difficult subject matter, but one would think that someone like A24 would be able to do wonders at getting this out there.
Night Comes On
I’m similarly shocked that actor Jordana Spiro’s dramatic debut feature about two sisters living in the foster system who run off to try to find their true father hasn’t generated more interest among buyers. I was definitely a big fan of the film and equally impressed by Spiro’s writing and direction, but it was obvious this was a smaller character piece that might not get as much attention as some of the other Sundance premieres. Spiro’s two young actors, Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall, are both fantastic, and this will be a great calling card for all three.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor