Sundance 2010 Competition Lineup Arrives, And Here Are Some Highlights

I've been fortunate enough to attend Sundance Film Festival for the past two years, and it's quite an experience. I tend to spend my time there gorging on as many movies as possible. In my two trips and 10 cumulative days spent in Park City, UT, I've seen roughly 50 screenings. Not even as press really; writing would consume too much time.

Sundance 2010 is going to be different: either I'll be here manning the blog or out in Utah seeing only the occasional movie while participating in MTV's ongoing coverage. And manning the blog, of course. After looking at the competition lineup, just released today, I'm very much hoping that I'll be able to attend. There are some cool-looking movies in contention, and many more yet to be announced that aren't competing. Hit the jump to check out some of the highlights and then head over to the Sundance website for the full list.

Hesher (Director: Spencer Susser; Screenwriters: Spencer Susser and David Michod; Story by Brian Charles Frank)—A mysterious, anarchical trickster descends on the lives of a family struggling to deal with a painful loss. Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie, John Carroll Lynch. World Premiere

I don't know much about "Hesher," but I've heard some good things. There's a solid cast here and the director, Spencer Susser, had some sort of involvement with "R2-D2: Beneath the Dome," so he's okay in my book.

Holy Rollers (Director: Kevin Tyler Asch; Screenwriter: Antonio Macia)—A young Hasidic man, seduced by money, power and opportunity, becomes an international Ecstasy smuggler. Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A. Abeckaser, Ari Graynor, Jason Fuchs. World Premiere

Here we have a fun cast and a hilarious premise. This is director Kevin Tyler Asch's first feature, but he's from Long Island (my home turf). Once again, okay in my book.

Howl (Directors and screenwriters: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)—A nonfiction drama about the young Allen Ginsberg finding his voice, the creation of his groundbreaking poem HOWL, and the landmark obscenity trial that followed. Cast: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels. World Premiere

Allen Ginsberg is a fascinating individual; I'm very keen on seeing how James Franco portrays a younger version of the portly Beat poet.

Sympathy for Delicious (Director: Mark Ruffalo; Screenwriter: Christopher Thornton)—A newly paralyzed DJ gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing. Cast: Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, John Carroll Lynch. World Premiere

I'm not sure what to make of the premise here. But it's Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut and he's put together a dynamite cast. It'll be nice to see how "The Lord of the Rings" star Orlando Bloom fares without a bow and a full quiver of arrows on his back.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (Directors: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg)—A rare, brutally honest glimpse into the comedic process and private dramas of legendary comedian and pop icon Joan Rivers as she fights tooth and nail to keep her American dream alive. World Premiere

Not sure what to say about this one, other than that I expect it to be equal parts aggravating and hilarious.

Smash His Camera (Director: Leon Gast)—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sued him, and Marlon Brando broke his jaw. The story of notorious, reviled paparazzo Ron Galella opens a Pandora's Box of issues from right to privacy, freedom of the press and the ever-growing vortex of celebrity worship. World Premiere

I'll be honest. I just want to see Marlon Brando punch a paparazzo's face in.

This list is just culled from the U.S. documentary and dramatic categories. There are quite a few more, plus world categories for documentary and narrative. Check them all out on the Sundance website.