James Franco, J-Lo and Ryan Reynolds bringing new films to 2015 Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Institute effectively filled out its slate for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival with the announcement of the always star-friendly premieres category. It's also where many former Sundance filmmakers bring their second, third and even fourth films back to the fest.
This year the category features 16 world premieres and almost all of them are from Sundance alumni, including Ryan Fleck ("Half Nelson"), Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale"), Joe Swanberg ("VHS"), Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite"), James Ponsoldt ("The Spectacular Now"), Michael Almereyda (2000's "Hamlet"), Rodrigo Garcia ("Nine Lives"), Benson Lee ("Miss Monday"), Leslye Headland ("Bachelorette"), and Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman ("American Splendor").
Some of the intriguing titles include Paul Weitz's "Grandma" with Lily Tomlin and Laverne Cox, Ryan Fleck and Anna Bowden's "Mississippi Grind" with Ryan Reynolds and Sienna Miller, Garcia's "Last Days in the Desert" featuring Ewan McGregor as Jesus, Charles Stone III's "Lila & Eve" with Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez, Justin Kelly's "I Am Michael" which finds James Franco playing a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor, Ponsoldt's "The End of the Tour" with Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky and Joan Cusack, Leslye Headland's "Sleeping with Other People" featuring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie and Adam Scott, and the "Frances Ha" team of Baumbach and Greta Gerwig reuniting for "Mistress America."
While the festival usually adds one or two additional premiere titles or special screenings before it kicks off, this year's overall slate is heavier on impressive filmmakers and seemingly commercial-friendly films rather than buzzworthy stars.
A complete rundown of this year's premieres category is as follows…
Director: John Crowley, Screenwriter: Nick Hornby, based on the book by Colm Tóibín)
1950s Ireland: Eilis must confront a terrible dilemma — a heartbreaking choice between two men and two countries, between duty and true love.
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent.
"Digging for Fire"
Director: Joe Swanberg, Screenwriters: Jake Johnson, Joe Swanberg
The discovery of a bone and a gun sends a husband and wife on separate adventures over the course of a weekend.
Cast: Jake Johnson, Rosemarie Dewitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick.
Director: Jared Hess, Screenwriters: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
Biblical archaeologist Don Verdean is hired by a local church pastor to find faith-promoting relics in the Holy Land. But after a fruitless expedition he is forced to get creative in this comedy of faith and fraud.
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte.
"The End of the Tour"
Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriter: Donald Margulies
This story of the five-day 1996 interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace explores the tenuous yet intense relationship that develops between journalist and subject. The two men bob and weave, sharing laughs and also concealing and revealing their hidden vulnerabilities.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, Mamie Gummer, Ron Livingston.
Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda
Experimenter is based on the true story of famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who in 1961 conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested ordinary humans' willingness to obey authority by using electric shock. We follow Milgram from meeting his wife through his controversial experiments that sparked public outcry.
Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Jim Gaffigan, Kellan Lutz, Taryn Manning, John Leguizamo.
Director and screenwriter: Paul Weitz
Self-described misanthrope Elle Reid has her protective bubble burst when her 18-year-old granddaughter, Sage, shows up needing help. The two of them go on a day-long journey that causes Elle to come to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future.
Cast: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott.
"I Am Michael"
Director: Justin Kelly, Screenwriters: Justin Kelly, Stacey Miller
The controversial true story of a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor.
Cast: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts.
"I'll See You in My Dreams"
Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch
A sudden loss disrupts Carol's orderly life, propelling her into the dating world for the first time in 20 years. Finally living in the present tense, she finds herself swept up in not one, but two unexpected relationships that challenge her assumptions about what it means to grow old.
Cast: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman.