11 Can't-Miss Films at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

by Zach Seemayer 1:41 AM PST, January 17, 2017
Photo: Sundance Film Festival

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival kicks off Thursday, Jan. 19, and with it come some of the most exciting, unexpected and experimental independent films from Hollywood and around the world.

From surreal comedies to near-future sci-fi dramedies to female-driven horror, this year's festival has some great films to choose from. Here are 11 that sound simply too good to miss.

MORE: 9 Sundance 2016 Films We Can't Wait to Watch

1. Brigsby Bear

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

This offbeat dramedy tells the story of a sheltered man-child who is forced to strike out on his own after his favorite children's TV show comes to an abrupt end and he decides to create a proper conclusion to the story. Starring Saturday Night Live's Kyle Mooney and his compatriots in the sketch group Good Neighbor, Brigsby Bear sounds like the perfect blend of surreal comedy and heartfelt soul searching.

2. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

When a depressed woman (Melanie Lynskey) becomes the victim of burglars, she finds a renewed purpose in her life by hunting down the people who robbed her. She soon finds herself in over her head and facing a serious threat from ruthless criminals. Elijah Wood co-stars as her neighbor and compatriot who joins her on her revenge mission.

3. To the Bone

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

UnREAL co-creator Marti Noxon writes and directs this dark dramedy about a young woman battling anorexia who joins a recovery group and goes on a journey of self-discovery with an unconventional doctor. Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves co-star in this story based loosely on Noxon's own early-life battle with the eating disorder.

4. Ingrid Goes West

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen and O'Shea Jackson Jr. star in this dramedy about a mentally unstable woman (Plaza) who becomes obsessed with an Instagram "influencer" (Olsen) and moves to Los Angeles in an attempt to befriend her, as her behavior becomes increasingly dangerous and disturbed.

5. Bitch

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

A depressed and overburdened housewife -- who has to deal with a cheating husband and a score of turmoil -- finally snaps one night and takes on the persona of a vicious, killer dog to terrifying results. While Sundance always has its share of bizarre horror offerings, not all of them star the awesome Jason Ritter.

MORE: 7 Beloved Movies You Didn't Know Debuted At Sundance

6. The Discovery

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

This romantic sci-fi drama follows a scientist (Robert Redford) who scientifically manages to prove beyond a doubt that there is an afterlife, and the ramifications this discovery has on society. Jason Segel stars as the scientist's son, Will, who crosses paths with Isla, a woman with a mysterious past played by Rooney Mara. This high-concept look at science and progress' effects on culture and morality could prove to be the kind of sci-fi story with a lasting impact on the genre.

7. Casting JonBenet

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

This quasi-documentary blends fact and fiction in a fascinating examination of the JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery as told through the eyes (and words) of those in the Ramsey family's Colorado community. The film shows how the suspicious and high-profile murder case impacted the lives of those who lived in and around the scandal.

8. Marjorie Prime

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

Set in the future, Jon Hamm plays an artificially intelligent robot replica of an old woman's dead husband. As the synthetic doppelganger attempts to learn about the man he's supposed to be, he learns more about the story of a family with different recollections of difficult aspects of their past.

9. Bushwick

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

Set in the not-too-distant future, Texas has seceded from the Union and rebel forces are attempting to seize control of Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood in order to gain another bargaining chip to use with the U.S. government. Brittany Snow plays a young woman who gets caught up in the bloodshed and finds protection under the guidance of a stoic war veteran, played by Dave Bautista. This near-future horror story seems like it could be a harrowing look at a disturbingly possible reality.

MORE: Every Award-Worthy Movie You Absolutely Must Watch To Be Prepared for the 2017 Oscars

10. The Polka King

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

In this film based on a true story, Jack Black plays Jan Lewan, a striving and struggling shyster who builds a polka music empire by swindling, cheating, lying and conniving his way up a social ladder to create the world's only "polka Ponzi scheme." Jenny Slate stars as Lewan's adoring wife, while Jason Schwartzman plays his friend and sidekick. What could be better than a Polka crime dramedy?

11. XX

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

This female-driven anthology horror series strings together four tales of terror directed by four different filmmakers: Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin and Jovanka Vuckovic. If "female-driven anthology horror series" isn't enough to get you excited about XX, it also stars Melanie Lynskey, who’s awesome enough to appear twice on this list alone! (See: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.)