Tonight marks the beginning of yet another Sundance Film Festival; we'll be covering the proceedings from a safe distance, far from the intoxicating allure of all-night Ketel One-and-Strawberry Hot Tub parties with the juggsiest indie film execs in Park City. Like the breakout hits of Sundance past, such as Once, Little Miss Sunshine, and Hustle & Flow, all your film really needs to get the buyers to come knocking at your condo door is a good antihero (Dublin busker, hip-hop pimp), a major disease or problem to overcome (death, lack of demo CD), an engaging solution (madcap road trip, recording of demo CD), and an unconventional romantic angle thrown in for good measure (love in a piano store, falling for your ho). With that in mind, we've taken the time to break down for you this year's crop according to their fundamental, Sundanciest elements:
Antihero: Sex-addicted con-man Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell).
Disease/Problem: Alzheimer's-afflicted mother.
Solution: Fake-choking at ritzy restaurants.
Unconventional Romantic Angle: Mancini cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action.
Antihero: Teen drug dealer Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck).
Disease/Problem: Drug-addicted psychiatrist Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley); a troubled youth in need of counseling.
Solution: Bartering pot for therapy.
Unconventional Romantic Angle: Luke falls for Squire's daughter
Antihero: Plucky, practical mom Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams).
Disease/Problem: Lack of funds for son's tuition.
Solution: Forming a biohazard/crime-scene cleanup business.
Unconventional Romantic Angle: Something involving Rose's sister Norah (Emily Blunt) and a suggestively consumed banana (see photo).
The Great Buck Howard
Antihero: A young law school dropout (Colin Hanks).
Disease/Problem: Once-great illusionist Buck Howard (John Malkovich) has a career on the decline.
Solution: Dropout answers Howard's Magician's Apprenticeship ad in the local paper.
Unconventional Romantic Angle: Hanks find the love of his life on the road.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Antihero: Listless son-of-a-mobster Art Bechstein (Jon Foster).
Disease/Problem: "Art begins to believe that perhaps he doesn't even exist at all."
Solution: Art "encounters a beautiful debutante (Sienna Miller)."
Unconventional Romantic Angle: Art "encounters a beautiful debutante (Sienna Miller)."