[Pictured: Ryan Coogler]
By Stephanie Ornelas
Summer might be winding down but the fall film season is just getting started. And this is only the beginning as we ramp up to another awards season and the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Audiences are eagerly heading to theaters to see the Wakandans charge ahead to their next chapter, Harry Styles embody an eerie heartthrob who’s up to no good, and Viola Davis raise up a new group of women warriors.
Some viewers might not be aware that the directors of these highly anticipated movies have direct ties to the Sundance Institute and Film Festival, having written, directed, and even starred in award-winning Festival favorites. So, before you make your way to the big screen in your hometown, check out some of the past Sundance Festival films these creators were involved in:
BEFORE YOU WATCH Raymond and Ray…
The latest from writer-director Rodrigo García, this intricate drama stars Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke as they play estranged brothers who reunite to bury their father. Released September 12.
… SEE Mother and Child (2010 Sundance Film Festival)
Rodrigo García’s drama follows the lives of three women who share a common core: they have all been profoundly impacted by adoption. Karen (Annette Bening) had a baby as a teen and gave her up at birth. And she’s been haunted ever since by the daughter she never knew. Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) grew up as an adopted child; and Lucy (Kerry Washington) is just embarking with her husband on the adoption odyssey. (Available to stream on Starz and Direct TV, to rent on Amazon and Apple TV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Clerks 3…
In the third convenience store comedy by director Kevin Smith, Randal enlists friends and fellow clerks Dante, Elias, Jay, and Silent Bob to help him make a movie about life at the Quick Stop. Released September 13.
… SEE Clerks (1994 Sundance Film Festival)
Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is called in to cover a shift at his New Jersey convenience store on his day off. His friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) helps him pass the time, neglecting his video-store customers next door to hang out in the Quick Stop. The uneventful day is disrupted by news that one of Dante’s ex-girlfriends has died. After attending her memorial service, he muses over staying with current girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) or reuniting with his ex (Lisa Spoonhauer). (Available to stream on Paramount+, to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Pearl…
In Ti West’s new physiological slasher film, Pearl is trapped on her family’s isolated farm and must tend to her ailing father under the overbearing watch of her devout mother. Hoping for a more glamorous life, Pearl’s ambitions, temptations, and repressions all horrifically collide. Releases September 16.
… SEE V/H/S (2012 Sundance Film Festival)
Ti West joins directors David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, and Adam Wingard to direct this horror film about a group of petty criminals who are hired to steal a VHS tape from a rundown house. Things take a horrific turn when they find a dead pensioner and dozens of strange tapes. (Available to stream on Fubo and Pluto TV)
BEFORE YOU WATCH The Woman King…
Gina Prince-Bythewood’s epic film is centered around the Agojie, a woman warrior unit who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th century. Released September 16.
… SEE Love and Basketball (2000 Sundance Film Festival)
Those excited about The Woman King should also check out Prince-Bythewood’s Sundance Film Festival classic, Love and Basketball. In the film, which was Prince-Bythewood’s first, childhood friends Monica and Quincy chase their dreams of playing pro basketball while a romance gradually blossoms over the years. (Available to stream on HBO Max, to rent on AppleTV)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Moonage Daydream…
Director Brett Morgen explores David Bowie’s creative, spiritual, and musical journey in this documentary/musical that features never-before-seen footage and performances. Releases September 22.
… SEE Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015 Sundance Film Festival)
Another great musical documentary by Brett Morgen is Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. Using material from the Kurt Cobains’ personal archives, Morgen provides an in-depth examination of the Nirvana frontman’s childhood, music career, and untimely death. (Available to stream on HBO Max, to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Don’t Worry Darling…
Residing in a colorful experimental community, a housewife begins to suspect that her husband’s company is hiding disturbing secrets. Director Olivia Wilde stars alongside Harry Styles and Chris Pine in this upcoming thriller. Releases September 23.
… SEE The Words (2012 Sundance Film Festival)
Watch Olivia Wilde join this epic cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, and Zoe Saldana. In the film, a struggling writer discovers a lost manuscript and decides to pass the work off as his own. After finally receiving the recognition he desperately craves, he soon learns that living with his choice is not as easy as he thought.
“All I can say about the casting process was that we had very limited resources and very little time to make this movie,” said director Brian Klugman during the film’s post-screening Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival. “Had we had unlimited resources and unlimited time, we still would have cast every single person the same.” (Available to rent on AppleTV)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Sidney…
Filmmaker Reginald Hudlin honors the late legendary Sidney Poitier and his legacy as an iconic actor, filmmaker, and activist at the center of Hollywood and the Civil Rights Movement. Releases September 23 in theaters and on Apple TV+.
… SEE House Party (1990 Sundance Film Festival)
In Reginald Hudlin’s ’90s classic, highschooler Play (Christopher Martin) is planning the ultimate house party. His best friend, Kid (Christopher Reid), wants to go more than anything, but when he gets into a fight at school, his father grounds him. Still determined to go, Kid sneaks out of the house and faces one calamity after another as he makes his way to the party of the school year. (Available to stream on HBO Max, to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Catherine Called Birdy…
A young girl in medieval England navigates through life and avoids potential suitors her father has in mind in this adventure comedy directed by Lena Dunham. Releases to select theaters September 23, to Prime Video October 7.
… SEE Sharp Stick (2022 Sundance Film Festival)
Check out Lena Dunham’s comedy that premiered just last year at the Sundance Film Festival. Sarah Jo is a naive 26-year-old living on the fringes of Hollywood with her mother and sister. When she begins an affair with her older employer, she is thrust into an education on sexuality, loss, and power. (Available to rent on Direct TV, Apple TV+, and Amazon)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Blonde…
Writer/director Andrew Dominik explores the complicated life of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. Based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde stars Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, as well as Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samuel, and Julianne Nicholson. Releases September 28 on Netflix.
… SEE Chopper (2001 Sundance Film Festival)
Andrew Dominik tells the intense story of Mark “Chopper” Read, a legendary criminal who wrote his famous autobiography while serving a jail sentence in prison. (Available to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Amsterdam…
In this mystery/comedy written, directed, and produced by David O. Russell, three friends — a doctor, a nurse, and a lawyer — become the prime suspects in a murder in the 1930s. Releases October 7.
… Check Out Spanking the Monkey (1994 Sundance Film Festival)
David O. Russell made his directorial debut at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival with Spanking the Monkey. In the comedy/drama, a medical student is forced by his traveling salesman dad to cancel a top summer internship to look after his attractive mom, who’s bedridden with a broken leg. As she begins relying on her son for both physical and emotional needs, he starts developing disturbing and unwanted new yearnings.
BEFORE YOU WATCH Tár…
Set in the international world of classical music, director Todd Field’s film centers on Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), widely considered one of the greatest living composers/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Releases October 7.
…SEE In the Bedroom (2001 Sundance Film Festival)
Watch Todd Field’s award-winning drama about a young guy (Nick Stahl) who becomes romantically involved with an older single mother (Marisa Tomei), which starts to deeply concern his parents (Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson). When the relationship takes a sudden and tragic turn, they’re forced to confront the harsh reality of their situation. (Available to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Triangle of Sadness…
When a cruise ship for the super-rich sinks, survivors are left trapped on an island, including a fashion model celebrity couple. In this comedy by director Ruben Östlund, social hierarchy is turned upside down, revealing the tawdry relationship between power and beauty. Releases October 7.
…SEE Incident by a Bank (2011 Sundance Film Festival)
Those excited to see Triangle of Sadness, should head over to YouTube to check out Ruben Östlund’s Sundance Film Festival short, Incident by a Bank. The short film provides a detailed and humorous account of a failed bank robbery. (Available to watch on YouTube)
BEFORE YOU WATCH The Eternal Daughter…
In director Joanna Hogg’s newest film, filmmaker Julie and her mother visit their former family home, which is now a vacant hotel. While her mother is haunted by memories both sad and happy, Julie delves deeper into the hidden history of the house. Releases October 10.
…SEE The Souvenir (2019 Sundance Film Festival)
Based on Joanna Hogg’s real-life experiences, The Souvenir follows Julie as she hosts a film-school cohort party where she meets a mysterious man named Anthony. A few days later, Anthony invites Julie to a grand hotel and asks to stay with her for a few days. Thus begins Julie’s first serious love affair. Ignoring her friends and borrowing large amounts of money from her parents, Julie surrenders to the relationship and prioritizes Anthony’s needs. (Available to stream on Fubo, Showtime, Hoopla, and Kanopy)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Decision to Leave…
In this mystery/romance directed by Park Chan-wook, a detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife. Releases October 14.
…SEE Stoker (2013 Sundance Film Festival)
While you wait for Park Chan-wook’s newest release to drop, you might want to see his 2013 film Stoker. After India’s (Mia Wasikowska’s) father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him. (Available to rent on Apple TV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Halloween Ends…
After 45 years, one of the most acclaimed, revered horror franchises in film history reaches its terrifying conclusion as Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) faces off for the last time against her brother, masked killer Michael Myers, in a final horrifying confrontation. David Gordon Green directs this final showdown between the decades-long serial killer and his sister. Releases October 14.
…SEE Snow Angels (2007 Sundance Film Festival)
In David Gordon Green’s drama, a waitress (Kate Beckinsale) has separated from her suicidal alcoholic husband (Sam Rockwell), who has become an evangelical Christian, but his erratic attempts at getting back into Annie’s life have alarmed her. When Glenn and Annie’s daughter go missing, the whole town frantically searches for her. (Available to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Till…
Director Chinonye Chukwu tells the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was brutally lynched in 1955 while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. Releases October 14.
…SEE Clemency (2019 Sundance Film Festival)
Don’t miss Chinonye Chukwu’s drama about a prison warden who, over the years, has been drifting away from her husband while dutifully carrying out executions in a maximum security prison. When she strikes up a unique bond with death-row inmate Anthony Woods, a layer of emotional skin is peeled back, forcing her to confront the complex relationship between good intentions, unrequited desires, and what it means to be sanctioned to kill. (Available to stream on Hulu)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Ticket to Paradise…
In director Ol Parker’s romance/comedy, a divorced couple (Julia Roberts and George Clooney) travels to Bali to try and stop their daughter from making the same mistake they think they made over 20 years ago. Releases October 21.
…SEE Loved Up (1996 Sundance Film Festival)
Back in 1996, Ol Parker was the screenwriter of Loved Up, a film about a girl who meets and falls in love with a raver at a London cafe. But after losing her job, she gets introduced to the British drug scene and the seedier world of dealing. (Available to stream on Hoopla, to rent on Amazon)
BEFORE YOU WATCH The Banshees of Inisherin…
Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them. The drama, directed by Martin Mcdonaugh, stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan. Releases October 22.
…SEE In Bruges (2008 Sundance Film Festival)
In Martin Mcdonaugh’s crime comedy, hit men Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) head to Belgium to hide out until things cool down after a particularly difficult job. Their experiences become increasingly surreal and possibly life-changing as they encounter tourists, locals, and a potential romance for Ray. (Available to rent on AppleTV+)
BEFORE YOU WATCH The Good Nurse…
Suspicious that her colleague (Eddie Redmayne) is responsible for a series of mysterious patient deaths, a nurse (Jessica Chastain) risks her life to uncover the truth in this gripping thriller directed by Tobias Lindholm. Releases October 26 on Netflix.
…SEE A War (2015 Sundance Film Festival)
Don’t log into Netflix to see The Good Nurse until you check out director Tobias Lindholm’s A War. His film tells the story of a Danish military company in Afghanistan that is fighting the Taliban while trying to protect the civilians, while the commander is accused of having committed a war crime. (Available to stream on Amazon Prime)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Armageddon Time…
Acclaimed filmmaker James Gray’s Armageddon Time is a personal story on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship, and the generational pursuit of the American Dream. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong. Releases October 28.
…SEE Little Odessa (1995 Sundance Film Festival)
In this drama written and directed by James Gray, hit man Joshua (Tim Roth) returns to Brighton Beach for a contract killing for the Russian Mafia. His abusive father, Arkady (Maximilian Schell), banned him from returning after Joshua committed his first murder. He takes up residence in a hotel, and soon everyone knows he has returned. (Available to rent on Apple TV)
BEFORE YOU WATCH Black Panther: Wakanda Forever…
As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter in the wake of King T’Challa’s death, the heroes must band together and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. Releases November 11.
…SEE Fruitvale Station (2013 Sundance Film Festival)
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler made his directorial debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival for Fruitvale Station. The drama follows Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, during his final hours leading up to when he was fatally shot in the back by police at Fruitvale district station in Oakland, California.
“Oscar and I were born in the same year and came up in the Bay area through some of the same circumstances,” Coogler said during his film’s post-screening Q&A. “Often you’re not looked at as a full human being, sometimes by someone who’s supposed to protect you, sometimes by someone you bump into on the street. But any of the 118 movies here has a piece of that director’s life in it.” (Available to stream on BET+, to rent on AppleTV)
Before you watch The Son…
In Florian Zeller’s newest film, Peter (Hugh Jackman) has a busy life with a new partner and their baby. But their lives are thrown into disarray when his ex-wife Kate (Laura Dern) turns up with their teenage son, Nicholas. Releases November 11.
…SEE The Father (2020 Sundance Film Festival)
Almost 80 and defiantly living alone, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) rejects every hired caretaker that his daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), introduces. Desperate for help, she can’t make daily visits anymore, and Anthony’s grip on reality starts to unravel in this debut drama by playwright-turned-director Florian Zeller. (Available to stream on Starz and DirecTV, to rent on AppleTV+)
Before you watch Brado…
In this upcoming comedy by Alejandro González Iñárritu, a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker returns home and works through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity, familial relationships, and the folly of his memories. Releases in theaters November 18, on Netflix December 16.
…SEE Amores Perros (Sundance Collection at UCLA)
Alejandro González Iñárritu directs and stars in this bold and emotional story of lives that collide in a Mexico City car crash. Inventively structured as a triptych of overlapping and intersecting narratives, the film explores the lives of disparate characters who are catapulted into unforeseen dramatic situations instigated by the seemingly inconsequential destiny of a dog named Cofi. (Available to rent on Apple TV)
Before you watch Bones & All…
In Luca Guadagnino’s romance/drama, a young woman on the margins of society and a disenfranchised drifter (Timothée Chalamet) begin to fall in love as they embark on a 3,000-mile odyssey through the backroads of America. However, despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their differences. Releases November 23.
…SEE Call Me By Your Name (2017 Sundance Film Festival)
Another drama from Luca Guadagnino to check out is Call Me By Your Name. In the summer of 1983, a precocious 17-year-old is staying with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever. (Available to stream on Hulu and Apple TV+)
Before you watch Disenchanted…
15 years since Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) wed, Giselle has grown disillusioned with life in the city. They decide to move their growing family to the sleepy suburban community of Monroeville in search of a more fairy tale life. Unfortunately, it isn’t the quick fix she had hoped for. Frustrated, she turns to the magic of Andalasia for help, accidentally transforming the entire town into a real-life fairy tale and placing her family’s future happiness in jeopardy. Releases November 24.
…SEE Cosmo’s Tale (1998 Sundance Film Festival)
Those excited about Adam Shankman’s Disenchanted, should also check his Sundance Film Festival short Cosmo’s Tale — a silent film that tells a story through dance, expression, and melancholic music. Shankman made his directorial debut with this film at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.
…BEFORE YOU SEE Women Talking
In this drama, directed by Sarah Polly, women of an isolated religious community try to grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith after a series of sexual assaults. Releases December 2.
…SEE Away From Her (2007 Sundance Film Festival)
Sarah Polly introduced Away From Her in 2007 in Salt Lake City during the Sundance Film Festival. The unconventional love story follows a couple coming to grips with the onset of memory loss. Fiona (Julie Christie) wants to release her husband (Gordon Pinsent) from the inevitable fate of becoming her caretaker, so she chooses to check herself into a home specializing in Alzheimer’s patients. The couple must now begin working through the complex transition from lovers to strangers. (Available to rent on AppleTV)
Before you watch The Whale…
In Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, a reclusive English teacher (Brendan Fraser) who struggles with severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter for one last chance at redemption. Releases December 9.
…SEE Pi (1998 Sundance Film Festival)
While you wait for The Whale to hit theaters, check out Darren Aronofsky’s award-winning drama, Pi. In the film, numbers whiz Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is stunted by psychological delusions of paranoia and debilitating headaches. Residing in a messy Chinatown apartment, he spends his days tinkering with equations and his homemade, super-advanced computer. When Cohen encounters a mysterious number, after reporting his discovery to his mentor (Mark Margolis) and to a religious friend (Ben Shenkman), he finds himself the target of ill-intentioned Wall Street agents bent on using the number for profit. (Available to rent on AppleTV+)
Before you watch Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery…
Rian Johnson’s mystery flick is about a tech billionaire, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), who invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is put on the case. Releases December 23 on Netflix.
…SEE Brick (2005 Sundance Film Festival)
Check out Rian Johnson’s mystery directorial debut about a teenage loner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who learns that his girlfriend has been murdered. Committed to solving her murder himself, he must infiltrate high-school cliques he previously avoided. His search for justice places him before some of the school’s roughest characters. (Available to stream on Starz, to rent on AppleTV+)
Before you watch Babylon…
Director Damien Chazelle’s upcoming film, which is set in the 1920s and follows Hollywood’s transition from silent films to “talkies,” features an ensemble cast that includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart, and Tobey Maguire. Releases December 25.
…SEE Whiplash (2014 Sundance Film Festival)
Whiplash sprung from Chazelle’s short film of the same name that was supported by the Sundance Institute. It went on to win the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In the film, a promising young drummer (Miles Teller) at an intense Manhattan music conservatory begins to feel the pressure of success when he joins the school band led by their infamous music instructor (J.K. Simmons), who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. (Available to stream on HBO Max, to rent on AppleTV)
Before you watch White Noise…
Directed by Noah Baumbach, White Noise follows college professor Jack Gladney as his life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces him to evacuate with his family. Releases December 30 on Netflix.
…SEE The Squid and the Whale (2005 Sundance Film Festival)
Noah Baumbach’s drama/comedy won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. In his film, two brothers living in Brooklyn are caught in the middle of the divorce of their parents, Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan Berkman (Laura Linney). While older sibling Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) sides with dad, younger brother Frank (Owen Kline) backs up mom. Tension rises further when Joan’s writing career takes off and surpasses the failed ambitions of her ex-husband. (Available to stream on AMC+, to rent on AppleTV+)