What You Need to Know From Sundance
Of course, Sundance functions as a discovery zone not just for emerging directors and screenwriters but for actors too, as evidenced by Beasts Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. Among this year's standouts were Miles Teller as a smart-aleck teen confronted with his first true love in the superb coming-of-age drama The Spectacular Now, and Amy Seimetz, Upstream Color's leading lady and a talented filmmaker in her own right. (Her debut feature, the taut Florida noir Sun Don't Shine, opens later this year), and And while they aren't exactly unknowns, two venerable indie players -- Ben Foster and Juno Temple -- fully came into their own with rangy, scene-stealing performances in multiple Sundance titles.
Foster dazzled as the young William Burroughs on the edges of the Beat true-crime tale Kill Your Darlings, then impressed even more as a kindly deputy trying to keep the peace in Ain't Them Bodies Saints, a performance that evokes the young Gene Hackman in its understated masculine authority. Temple, meanwhile, turned up in no less than three Sundance films, giving a tour de force as an American tourist suffering an unexplained breakdown during a Chilean vacation in Sebastian Silva's unnerving meta-horror film Magic Magic.
It was also a Sundance of many happy returns for familiar faces too-long absent from the screen, from a wizened Keith Carradine as the surrogate father figure of Ain't Them Bodies Saints to Dean Stockwell as a craggy apple farmer in the low-key, highly accomplished David Sedaris adaptation C.O.G. Then there was Lovelace, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's above-average bio-pic of Deep Throat porn sensation Linda Lovelace (a very good Amanda Seyfried).
About an hour into the film, I leaned over to a colleague to ask if he knew who was so brilliantly and movingly playing the part of Lovelace's mother, Dorothy Boreman -- a strong woman, hardened by experience and the limited options open to women of her era, who gives her daughter tough-love advice she will later regret having given. My friend shrugged, and when the end credits rolled, we watched the name go by in quiet astonishment: Sharon Stone.
Follow Scott Foundas on Twitter at @FoundasOnFilm and read more of his stories here: Foundas on Film.