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25 Must-See Movies at Sundance 2015

From hot docs to hilarious cringe-comedies, the festival films to keep an eye out for

Sundance

When January rolls around, moviegoers can expect three things: They'll have to wade through the junk that studios release during this notorious dump month (I, Frankenstein, anybody?); they'll have a chance to catch up on the buzzed-about Oscar titles; and the Sundance Film Festival will turn Park City into ground zero for the year's need-to-see indie comedies, dramas, documentaries and nouveau cult classics. In 2014, festgoers were treated to first looks at BoyhoodThe Babadook and Whiplash; starting on Thursday, January 22nd, we'll get the opportunity to get a glimpse at many of the movies we'll undoubtedly by crowing about in the next 12 months.

After poring through the lineup and staring intently at the tea leaves in the bottom of magic predicta-mug, we've come up with 25 movies that we think will be the creme de la crème of Sundance 2015. From docs on Kurt Cobain and Marlon Brando to an adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel Z for Zachariah, these are the ones we're looking forward to the most.

Welcome to Leith

Gregory Bruce

‘Welcome to Leith’

The rural town of Leith, North Dakota always seemed like a nice place to settle down — that's what Craig Cobb, a notorious racist, thought when he was looking to establish a separatist, white-supremacist-friendly headquarters for your hatemongering. The community, naturally, were less then thrilled by its new resident and his ideas for changing their city into Hatetown U.S.A., and fought to keep Cobb from taking over Leith acre by acre. Thankfully, Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker captured the whole thing on film. Yes, things get ugly.

What Happened, Miss Simone?

‘What Happened, Miss Simone’

That'd be Nina Simone, the fierce soul singer and civil-rights activist who's been ripe for a docu-portrait for a long while. Thankfully, Liz Garbus (The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.) stepped up, delivering what we've heard to be a warts-and-all look at how Simone battled racism, sexism and her own demons — and still delivered the sort of heartfelt, eye-watering, gut-punching music that made her legend. What happened, you ask? You're about to find out.

Z for Zachariah

Craig Zobel

‘Z for Zachariah’

Director Craig Zobel scandalized Sundance audiences in 2012 with the controversial Compliance, and now he's back with a post-apocalyptic film that's guaranteed to generate more chatter. The relationship between a young woman (The Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie) and a dying scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is compromised when they come across another survivor (Chris Pine) — and the two men vie for her affection. All we can say is: Uh-oh.

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