Montclair-Film-Festival-Logo_SFWToday kicks off the second annual Montclair Film Festival in Montclair, New Jersey.  Located about twenty miles outside of Manhattan, this quiet yet very compelling festival has quite a few highlights that will be showcased at this year’s festivities.  In its second year, the impressive slate will have lots of films getting some extra press in preparation for their openings and plays around the circuit during the awards season.

Down below, you can find my top ten most anticipated films that will be playing during the festival.  If you are in the Metropolitan area, make some time to attend.  There will be over 90 films and events that will be taking place during the week-long event.  Some of which, could be quiet award contenders in the later part of the year.

Check down below:

aftertiller_image10. After Tiller (Director: Martha Shane & Lana Wilson)

SynopsisAfter Tiller profiles the only four doctors in the United States who continue to perform third trimester abortions since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. “Whether one is pro-life, pro-choice or without an opinion on the issue, After Tiller  provides personal insight into a heart-wrenching, complex reality” (Hollywood Reporter).

When a documentary comes and profiles something as controversial as abortion, one has to take time and listen, whether you are for or against it.  This compelling look at this controversial subject has many buzzing about it and could be a late surge awards contender for Documentary Feature.

concussion_image9. Concussion (Director: Stacie Passon)

Synopsis: Filmed extensively in Montclair, Concussion made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival where it was hailed by critics as “superb” (Village Voice). Actress Robin Weigert (Deadwood) gives a star-making performance as a fortysomething married, lesbian housewife who suffers a concussion that shakes her out of suburban inertia. Looking for adventure, she takes on a double life as a high-end escort. Director Stacie Passon explores universal themes of midlife crisis in a way that’s funny, sexy and bound to stir conversation.

Receiving strong ink out of the Sundance Film Festival, Robin Weigert could be one of the breakthrough actresses of the year despite her success and Emmy nomination on HBO’s “Deadwood.”  As intriguing as the film sounds, the raw, emotional content of the film may fair better for the Independent Spirit Awards when the year is said and done.  Doesn’t mean that it won’t be anymore brilliant than other releases.

Dead-Mans-Burden-review8. Dead Man’s Burden (Director: Jared Moshe)

Synopsis: Fresh talent infuses this classic western set in New Mexico in 1870. Clare Bowen from ABC’s Nashville and David Call from Tiny Furniture play a married couple who are tested by the arrival of a sibling presumed dead. “Careful attention to period details…pays off with dividends, lending the film an immersive resonance” (Hollywood Reporter).

Already creating an underground following, Jared Moshe’s writing and directing debut set in the wild west has drummed up some early awards conversation especially in some of the technical categories.   The film opens up officially on May 3 but unless it hits some cultural zeitgeist’s or critics really come to its aid, this polished, possible awards worthy vehicle may be forgotten come December.

frances ha image7. Frances Ha (Director: Noah Baumbach)

Synopsis: Warmly embraced at the Toronto and New York film festivals, Frances Ha has been described as a modern reboot of Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Shooting in crisp black and white, director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) casts indie “It girl” Greta Gerwig in this comic exploration of a generation that’s overeducated and underemployed.

Kris Tapley of HitFix gave a brilliant comparison of Baumbach’s newest venture to a Woody Allen film.  I completely agree.  Ever since I saw the film at last year’s New York Film Festival, I’ve highly anticipated the opening of the film for audiences.  Brilliantly crafted and featuring an outstanding performance by the talented and co-writer Greta Gerwig, this phenomenal look at twenty-somethings is a serious threat for Original Screenplay love come awards season.  You could also throw in Best Actress, Director, and Picture but its early release date may end up falling in line like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (2012) last year.

inaworld6. In a World… (Director: Lake Bell)

Synopsis: You’re going to hear a lot about Lake Bell. She writes, directs and stars in this hilarious film set in the Hollywood world of movie-trailer making. Bell plays Carol Solomon, a struggling vocal coach whose father, Sam Sotto, is the reigning king of movie- trailer voices. When the producers of a sci-fi blockbuster seek a new approach to speak the immortal trailer phrase “In a world…” Carol winds up in a dysfunctional family competition. Bell, whose script for In a World… won the Sundance screenwriting award, is joined in the film by an impressive ensemble cast including Demetri Martin and Rob Corddry.  Co-preseented with Evelyn and Stephen Colbert.

Lake Bell writes, directs, and stars in this movie about making movie-trailers.  Co-starring the audacious Fred Melamed, who gained minor traction for himself in A Serious Man (2009), this Sundance winner for the Waldo Art Screenwriting Award might up being a closeted hit and score accolades for the film and Ms. Bell.

kings-of-summer-trailer-03212013-1953455. The Kings of Summer (Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts)

Synopsis: Three teenage boys decide to escape their parents by building a house in the woods. But jealousies arise over a girl. Funny and poignant, The Kings of Summer explores the intricacies of rebellion, friendship and young love. “Idiosyncratic & hilarious…heralds the arrival of a fresh, new comic voice” (The Playlist).  Co-presented with Audi.

CBS Films is positioning themselves to be a potential threat for this upcoming awards season.  With the anticipated Inside Llewyn Davis and a slew of other prestige films coming down the pike, this hopeful from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is already stirring the pot.  A seemingly dramatic-comedy hybrid, the film could become another teen classic like The Sandlot (1993) with the heart and prestige of Little Miss Sunshine (2006).

spectacularnow_image4. The Spectacular Now (Director: James Ponsoldt)

Synopsis: Sutter (Miles Teller), a high school senior, charmer and budding alcoholic, unexpectedly falls in love with “the good girl” Aimee (Shailene Woodley from The Descendents). From the screenwriters of 500 Days of Summer, this unlikely romance with sly humor won a special jury prize for acting at the Sundance Film Festival.

While flawed, an appreciation was gained for Ponsoldt’s last effort Smashed (2012) with Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  This upcoming film places Shailene Woodley in the lead role along with Miles Teller and gained lots of raves out of the Sundance Film Festival.  Joey raved about it as well.  With writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, this could be out indie hit of the year and score possibly screenplay and Actress nods.

wasteland_image3. Wasteland (Director: Rowan Athale)

Synopsis: This British heist thriller has touches of Ocean’s Eleven and The Usual Suspects as an ex-con schemes against a drug kingpin. “The pleasures lie as much in the sarcastic banter and blokey chemistry of the four leads as they do in the mechanics of the twisted revenge plot” (Screen Daily).

This under-the-radar British thriller for some reason had me at “hello.”  Not to mention it has one of the most underrated actors working today, Timothy Spall, this seemingly twisted tale on the crime genre may end up capturing the fanboy-ism and gaining a cult of followers à la Snatch (2000) years later.

Picture 26_Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan_300dpi2. Violet & Daisy (Director: Geoffrey Fletcher)

Synopsis: Oscar-winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) makes his directorial debut with this whimsical story of two teenage assassins played by Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls). The duo face a series of opponents, including one unusually mysterious man (James Gandolfini), in a surreal plot with unexpected turns.  Co-presented by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Premiering two years ago at the Toronto Film Festival, Geoffrey Fletcher’s directorial debut received a mixed bag of reviews.  Featuring young talents like Academy Award nominated actress Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel, in partnership with the vastly underutilized James Gandolfini, Violet & Daisy could be a somewhat unsuspecting hit if enough viewers and critics rally to its defense.  I’m looking forward to it.

storieswetell1. Stories We Tell (Director: Sarah Polley)

Synopsis: In her first documentary, Oscar-nominated director Sarah Polley (Away From Her) seeks to learn more about her late mother and elusive father. Told with humor and sensitivity, her pursuit reveals how personal history gets re- shaped by different perspectives. “She has transformed the secrets and lies of her own life into glowing artistic truth” (Time).

I’ve been looking forward to this film since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last September.  Sarah Polley, a brilliant filmmaker that could be our next Kathryn Bigelow with the right project, has created a different type of documentary that could not only gain herself some serious awards attention but may possibly, bring our first documentary to the Best Picture race.  Many, including our own Terence, gave it a good amount of praise thus far.

For the Full List of Films Go to the Website:

Comment and discuss!  Which films are you looking forward to?

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Clayton Davis--prolific writer and autism awareness advocate of Puerto Rican and Black descent, known for his relentless passion, dedication, and unique aptitude. Over the course of a decade, he has been criticizing both film and television extensively. To date, he has been either featured or quoted in an array of prominent outlets, including but not limited to The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter. Growing up in the Bronx, Clayton’s avid interest in the movie world began the moment he first watched "Dead Poets Society” at just five years of age. While he struggled in English class all throughout grade school, he dived head first into writing, ultimately taking those insufficiencies and transforming them into ardent writings pertaining to all things film, television, and most importantly, the Academy Awards. In addition to crafting a collection of short stories that give a voice to films that haven’t made it to the silver screen, Clayton currently serves as the Founding Editor of He also holds active voting membership at various esteemed organizations, such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Broadcast Television Journalists Association, African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, Black Reel Awards, and International Press Academy. Furthermore, Clayton obtained his B.A. degree in American Studies and Communications.