By Matt Neglia & Dan Bayer
The Tribeca Film Festival returns to New York this Wednesday. The festival will run from June 8th until June 19th. With over 100 feature-length films, there’s plenty to catch at this year’s festival (Please click here for the full lineup). Like last year, there will be a combination of in-person and virtual screenings this year, and Dan Bayer and I will be covering on behalf of Next Best Picture.
Click below to see the 20 films we are most looking forward to seeing at this year’s festival.
A father-daughter relationship drama starring Thomas Haden Church and Dianna Agron, this is the follow-up film from director Alex Lehmann who previously gave us the excellent but underrated “Paddleton.” It’s been a while since Thomas Haden Church was given a role he could flex his acting muscles on, and a reluctant father who has an obsession with UFOs and aliens and a steadily declining mental health is reason enough to check this one out. However, you pair that with what is sure to be a tender, sweet, funny, and impactful drama, and you have a recipe for success.
Letitia Wright has been on a hot streak ever since her breakout role in the Oscar-winning “Black Panther.” While audiences will have to wait until late this year for the much-anticipated superhero sequel, this small but vital immigrant drama of a Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland is sure to be another example of the many talents Wright has to offer audiences outside of superhero blockbuster films. Starring opposite “The Crown’s” Josh O’Connor, we expect this drama to hit hard as the refugee crisis gets another intense entry in an ever-growing list of contemporary films.
ALL MAN: THE INTERNATIONAL MALE STORY
For gay men of a certain age, the International Male catalog was like manna from heaven: Fun, flamboyant, fashion-forward clothes on impossibly beautiful male models, and the hottest, most wide-ranging underwear section of any catalog before or since. Directors Bryan Darling and Jesse Finley Reed have gathered as many people involved as possible to tell the story of the catalog’s rise and fall. As Pride Month just started, LGBTQ+ history is very much top of mind, and films documenting these cornerstones of identity for underrepresented groups may be niche. Still, they’re also important for the new generation to understand where we’ve been and shed some light on where we might be going.
The second feature-length film from actress/director Katie Holmes, “Alone Together,” follows a New York City food critic (Holmes directing herself) who ends up getting trapped in a romantic getaway spot during the pandemic opposite Charlie (Jim Sturgess). We feel Holmes has untapped potential as an actress who, unfortunately, had her talents overshadowed by her much-publicized marriage to ex-husband Tom Cruise. However, we are excited to see where her career continues to evolve from here as she takes on a sensitive and reflective story that will undoubtedly hit home for many, if not all of us, who were impacted by lockdown during the pandemic.
If the logline “Peter Dinklage vs. Shirley MacLaine” doesn’t immediately get you excited, then I don’t know how to help you. Dinklage plays a down-on-his-luck professor of economics who is trying to buy a house and takes an offer from MacLaine to live in her mansion with her, which he will own once she dies. The battle of wills between them, as scripted by Theodore Melfi (“Hidden Figures“), should be plenty entertaining.
With a screenplay by Lena Waithe (“Queen & Slim“) and directed by Andrew Dosunmu (“Where Is Kyra?“), we believe “Beauty” will be one of the talks of the town at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Starring Gracie Marie Bradley as the titular character, the story follows a young lesbian singer who is about to have her big break in the 1980s despite disapproving parents and the challenges the industry is about to throw at her. Co-starring Sharon Stone, Niecy Nash, and Giancarlo Esposito with sumptuous cinematography and an excellent soundtrack, this film will be distributed by Netflix later this year, and we’re expecting great things given the talent involved.
THE BLACK PHONE
Reteaming after their previous horror hit “Sinister,” director Scott Derrickson has now cast star, Ethan Hawke against type as an iconic-looking horror villain: The Grabber, a child abductor and killer whose dead victims are reaching out to his current captor from beyond the grave in an effort to ensure his survival and The Grabber’s demise. Early buzz on the film from Fantastic Fest was through the roof (the film currently has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes), and in the heat of summer, it’s always nice to get some good chills.
Jon Hamm, unrecognizable with a fluffy mustache, going back to the office setting of “Mad Men,” the project which made him famous? Yes, please! As the world wrangles with going back to the office after so long working from home, this mysterious, Kafka-esque film could be just the satirical ticket we all need to let out our collective misery.
DON’T MAKE ME GO
John Cho plays a single father who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Knowing that his days are short, he takes a road trip with his teenage daughter (Mia Isaac) from California to New Orleans for his 20th college reunion, where he hopes to tie up loose ends. The screenplay for this independent drama is written by “This Is Us” writer Vera Herbert and we’re anticipating this will be an emotional tearjerker. Premiering in the AT HOME section of the festival, this is one title that will get a lot of eyes on it before it comes to theaters and Prime Video this July.
GOD SAVE THE QUEENS
What would Pride Month be without some drag queens? Writer-director Jordan Danger’s feature debut has collected a murderer’s row of fabulously talented queens, including “Drag Race” alums Alaska Thunderfuck, Laganja Estranja, and Kelly Mantle, as a group of drag queens at a therapy retreat. Billed as “a heartfelt and hilarious look at the performers underneath all the makeup and eleganza,” this has future cult classic written all over it.
GOOD GIRL JANE
We’ve been hearing a lot of really strong word of mouth about this coming-of-age drama (based on a true story) about a teenage girl (Rain Spencer) who is having a difficult time dealing with her parent’s divorce and falls for her group of friend’s drug dealer. While it might hit familiar plot beats of other independent dramas we’ve seen before, the ensemble of actors (Patrick Gibson and Andie MacDowell) along with the promise of Sarah Mintz, who is making her directorial debut, makes us hopeful this will be an under-the-radar festival hit.
Admit it; you’ve been curious about Bennifer 2.0. While we don’t know if this Netflix documentary will include anything about the celebrity couple to end all celebrity couples, it certainly looks to be covering the period in Jennifer Lopez’s life that led up to that reunion, including her Super Bowl Halftime show and her performance at the recent Presidential Inauguration. Perhaps even more critical for movie lovers, this is also the time period where she came the closest she has ever come to an Oscar nomination for her dynamo of a performance in “Hustlers.” Lopez has been a global superstar for decades at a time when few Latinx women have reached that level, and this look behind the curtain is sure to enlighten and intrigue as we learn what goes into reaching and maintaining that kind of stardom.
While we wait for Song Kang-ho’s Cannes prizewinner “Broker,” we can get our “Parasite” cast fix here. Lee Jung-eun (the housekeeper that the Kim family works so hard to replace in “Parasite“) stars as Ji-wan, a filmmaker stuck in a rut who is asked to work on restoring a film from the 60s by the first known female Korean director. The trailer presents the film as a comedy with a solid emotional throughline of Ji-wan getting closer to her (perhaps estranged) son, the kind of delight that will go down nice and easy during summer in the city.
THE INTEGRITY OF JOSEPH CHAMBERS
Actor Clayne Crawford and writer/director Robert Machoian came together to create magic with “The Killing Of Two Lovers,” and the duo is back with “The Integrity Of Joseph Chambers.” This tense drama tightens its focus on a family man who goes hunting one morning by himself on what turns out to be the longest day of his life. Machoian impressed the hell out of us with his last film, and the tightly composed cinematography, outstanding sound design, and vulnerable performance from Crawford all sound like they’re returning to give us another intense and unforgettable drama.
JERRY & MARGE GO LARGE
Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening. Is there anything else that needs to be said? How about we throw in the fact that this bizarre true story of wealth, retirement, and the lottery system is directed by David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley & Me”)? Coming to Paramount+ later on, this is one of the festival’s most buzzed-about titles and will be seen broadly, considering it’s one of the Tribeca AT HOME titles.
LAND OF DREAMS
As if we wouldn’t be interested in a sci-fi satire co-starring Sheila Vand, Anna Gunn, Isabella Rossellini, Matt Dillon, Robin Bartlett, and Christopher McDonald. Vand is Simin, a census taker tasked with asking questions about people’s dreams for an unknown purpose. While the high concept could be just as heavily pretentious as it sounds (Simin also posts videos performing the dreams that resonate with her dressed up as the people she interviewed), it could also be profoundly entertaining. And with that cast, we can’t wait to find out.
SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS
Much like “Jerry & Marge Go Large,” we’re mostly looking forward to somewhere in queens due to the pairing of its two stars, Ray Romano and Laurie Metcalf. However, there’s more to this New York comedy about a father keeping secrets about his basketball-playing son’s future from his wife than simply that. The directorial debut by Romano (who also wrote the screenplay) is said to be a crowd-pleaser with tremendous laughs ad nuance to be found in the characters and story. We’re expecting this to play well with a crowd at the festival.
Two of our most promising young actors – Kyle Allen and Alexandra Shipp – star in this sci-fi flavored romance about a young man participating in a privately-funded Mars colonization program when he meets a new girl in town trying to start over. That’s all well and good, but we’re most intrigued by who’s behind the camera: Kyra Sedgwick. This isn’t the actress’s directorial debut, but she received a DGA nomination for her debut feature “Story of a Girl” in 2017. With this cast, she might just impress again.
Andrew Bujalski’s last film, “Support the Girls,” was a highlight of 2018 cinema. For his next feature, he’s assembled a killer cast: Molly Gordon, Jason Schwartzman, Lili Taylor, and Lennie James are among the cast of this experimental satire. It is described as “a delirious mirror image of everyday life in a distinctly twisted and discordant world,” which is intriguing enough! But filtering that through Bujalski’s unique voice, this could be something pretty special and certainly unique.
Another star-making his directorial debut at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is “The Office’s” B.J. Novak’s in the Coen Brothers-esque dark comedy thriller “Vengeance. With an ensemble cast including Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Boyd Holbrook, J. Smith-Cameron, and Dove Cameron, this Blumhouse Production is one of the biggest films playing at this year’s festival in terms of buzz. Focus Features is distributing later this summer. We already know Novak has the acting chops to pull off the film’s tricky tone but can he direct? We’ll find out shortly.
Which films are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.