15 Sundance Films That Could Be This Year’s "Little Miss Sunshine"

Every year a handful of films get purchased at Sundance and head for release around the nation. But which movies have the potential to be breakout hits like that indie sensation of yore?

1. “The Way, Way Back”

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Duncan finds a mentor in his water park coworker.
Stars: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James
Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The feel-good, wacky comedy invokes comparisons to ’70s classics like Meatballs and Caddyshack.
Breakout odds: Even money

2. “Austenland”

Synopsis: A Jane Austen fanatic takes an immersive Austen-themed vacation.
Stars: Keri Russell, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge
Director: Jerusha Hess
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: From the coauthor of Napoleon Dynamite, this film teeming with hilarious actors has very mainstream comedy potential.
Breakout odds: 2 to 1

3. “The Spectacular Now”

Synopsis: A popular high school senior becomes close with a misfit sci-fi fangirl after he is dumped by his girlfriend.
Stars: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler
Director: James Ponsoldt
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The engaging and delightful coming-of-age comedy features one of the most likable casts in ages.
Breakout odds: 4 to 1

4. “Fruitvale”

Synopsis: The last day in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, shot in the back by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day 2009.
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz
Director: Ryan Coogler
Reasons why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The hugely lauded film won the festival’s top prize and is the indie tearjerker of the year, even if its dark subject matter doesn’t exactly make for the feel-good hit of the summer.
Breakout Odds: 5 to 1

5. “jOBS”

Synopsis: The story of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ ascent from his parents’ garage to tech superstardom.
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney
Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: A star vehicle biopic of the nerd folk hero should generate lots of interest, even if the Ashton Kutcher take raises skepticism.
Breakout odds: 6 to 1

6. “Don Jon’s Addiction”

Synopsis: Young, sauve Jon Martello has no trouble with women; but he only finds satisfaction watching porn.
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: Under the indie trappings, it’s a broad sex comedy likely to appeal to young men, although the crude porn themes might turn off as many as they bring in.
Breakout Odds: 8 to 1

7. “Kill Your Darlings”

Synopsis: The untold story of a love triangle and murder involving Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Dane DeHaan
Director: John Krokidas
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: Harry Potter in beat dress will attract interest.
Breakout odds: 10 to 1

8. “Prince Avalanche”

Synopsis: A coming-of-age comedy about two men who spend the summer repainting highway lines in a part of Texas ravaged by a wildfire.
Stars: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch
Director: David Gordon Green
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: Warm and heartfelt, if small, Prince Avalanche could become an indie comedy favorite.
Breakout odds: 10 to 1

9. “Two Mothers”

Synopsis: Two best friends fall in love with each other’s sons.
Stars: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright
Director: Anne Fontaine
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: Its provocative topic is sure to ignite interest.
Breakout odds: 10 to 1

10. “We Are What We Are”

Synopsis: A horror story, adapted from the Mexican film of the same name, about a family of cannibals living in the Catskill Mountains.
Stars: Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Kelly McGillis, Bill Sage
Director: Jim Mickle
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The dramatically rich horror story could prove a surprise critical sensation.
Breakout odds: 12 to 1

11. “Before Midnight”

Synopsis: The third installment in director Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise series finds central couple Jesse and Celine grappling with middle age in Greece, 18 years after they first met.
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The word “masterpiece” was being thrown around freely after its Sundance screening.
Breakout odds: 12 to 1

12. “Toy’s House”

Synopsis: Three adolescents build a house for themselves in the woods.
Stars: Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: Packed with quirky comedy touchstones and familiar faces, the film is catnip to comedy nerds but may be a bit too much to swallow for others.
Breakout odds: 12 to 1

13. “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”

Synopsis: An couple’s crime spree is cut short when the husband is apprehended after a shoot-out with local law enforcement.
Stars: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster
DIrector: David Lowery
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: Red-hot young cast, including the girl with the dragon tattoo herself. This probably isn’t enough, however, to overcome the Sundance catalog description: “The barren landscapes of David Lowery’s poetic feature evoke the mythology of westerns and saturate the dramatic space with fatalism.”
Breakout odds: 15 to 1

14. “Lovelace”

Synopsis: The story of the making of the first mainstream porn film, Deep Throat, and the meteoric rise of its star, Linda Lovelace.
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Sharon Stone
Director: Rob Epstein
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The sensational subject could show Boogie Nights–like crossover appeal.
Breakout odds: 15 to 1

15. “Concussion”

Synopsis: A wealthy lesbian suburban housewife embarks on a double life as a prostitute in Manhattan after she is hit in the head by a stray ball at her son’s baseball game.
Stars: Robin Weigert
Director: Stacie Passon
Why it could be the next Little Miss Sunshine: The intense, intimate drama could touch some powerful cords; intense, intimate, low-budget drama, however, doesn’t typically line them up at the multiplex.
Breakout odds: 50 to 1

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