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Sundance Film Festival: Could these be the next film hits?

"Skeleton Twins"

"Skeleton Twins" Credit: Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in "The Skeleton Twins"

The Sundance Film Festival has reached its halfway point in Park City, Utah, and previously unknown and unseen independent films have now become household names … in the Wasatch Mountains, at least.

Here, amNewYork spotlights several of the festival premieres that seem to have a better-than-average shot at hitting it big with audiences away from Sundance.

'The Skeleton Twins'
This drama starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged twins has received significant critical acclaim, with Hader’s performance in particular being singled out as a game-changer in the “Saturday Night Live” veteran’s career. The talk around town is that this is one of those Sundance flicks that could become a genuine commercial success, too, in the vein of “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Garden State.”

'Wish I Was Here'
Speaking of “Garden State,” there’s Zach Braff’s return to feature filmmaking, which has infamously accrued negative press because of its Kickstarter campaign. The story of a thirty-something family man home schooling his children while struggling to maintain his dying acting dreams hits many of the same beats as the earlier movie.. History has shown the biting humor/unabashed sentimentality model is a popular one.

Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight”) premiered his 12-years-in-the-making project to a rapturous response over the weekend. The movie chronicles a young man’s (Ellar Coltrane) life from the ages of 6 through 18 and it was shot in bits and pieces from 2002 to 2013. Linklater is among the best filmmakers working today and the unique nature of the project (which co-stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) combined with heady word-of-mouth should foretell an art house hit.

Sundance is a sucker for movies about suspended adolescence, but even if the basic premise of this film (a young woman who can’t grow up starts hanging out with teenagers) feels incredibly familiar, director Lynn Shelton and star Keira Knightley find a fresh way to attack it. This is a crowd-pleaser with the first Knightley performance that feels lived-in and naturalistic. 

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