Los Angeles Times
6 films that make braving snow, crowds worthwhile
The altitude. The snow. The shuttle schedule. The sprawling theater venues. The throngs of selfie-seekers. Navigating the Sundance Film Festival can be tricky enough before you even figure out which films you want to see. But don’t panic: We’ve got you covered. Here are the six films you should brave the elements for in Park City this week. And if you’re not headed to Utah, no need for FOMO —- now you can pretend you’re in the know from the comfort of sunny L.A. (without any Fear of Missing Out). “O.J. Made in America” (Special Events)
Got 71⁄2 hours to spare? Then settle in for this ESPN docuseries that explores the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson and how his murder trial raised questions about race in America. The lengthy series is being unveiled just weeks before the premiere of a fictionalized television series about Simpson, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., on FX. But you won’t need a lunch break for that one.
“Goat” (U.S. Dramatic)
OK, so it stars a former Jonas brother. But don’t write off director Andrew Neel’s fraternity bro drama just because lead Nick Jonas also happens to be a pop crooner. The film, about a college student who faces abusive hazing while pledging a frat, may raise timely questions about modernday masculinity.
“Manchester by the Sea” (Premieres)
Yes, his last release was “Margaret” — that long-delayed, critically maligned film whose production troubles became the stuff of Hollywood legend. But writerdirector Kenneth Lonergan is trying to move past all that with his latest drama, which stars Casey Affleck as a Boston handyman who suddenly becomes the guardian of his 16-year-old nephew. Lonergan is a Sundance favorite —-- his Oscar-nominated film “You Can Count On Me” won the festival’s Grand Jury Prize in 2000.
“Weiner” (U.S. Documentary Competition)
This should be juicy. After his sexting scandal in 2013, politician Anthony Weiner granted documentary filmmakers access to trail him as he launched a mayoral campaign. That meant Weiner’s faithful wife, Huma Abedin — one of Hillary Clinton’s most important aides who has worked alongside the presidential hopeful for the last two decades — would also be filmed. Whether this will affect Clinton’s White House bid, however, remains to be seen.
“Certain Women” (Premieres)
Director Kelly Reichardt and actress Michelle Williams reunite for their third collaboration in this film set in the American West. Reichardt — known for her quiet, dialogue-scant style — follows the lives of various Montana women played by Williams, Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart in her latest film. The filmmaker’s first movie, 1994’s “River of Grass,” is also getting a special digitally remastered screening at the fest this year.
“The Birth of a Nation” (U.S. Dramatic)
Actor Nate Parker wrote, directed, produced and stars in this period piece about Nat Turner, the real-life figure who led a major slave rebellion in 1831 Virginia. Parker — last seen as the hunky cop in the romance “Beyond the Lights” — has roots at Sundance and earned a fellowship through the festival’s lab. The 36-year-old worked on the script for his directorial debut (also starring Armie Hammer and Aja Naomi King) for the better part of a decade.