Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine

The Sundance Film Festival gets underway today and, over the years, it has uncovered some real movie gems.

We take a look at some of the films that debuted at the festival and went on to be huge hits and introduce us to actors and directors.

- Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine premiered at the festival in 2006, and is one of Sundance's biggest successes in recent years.

The movie saw Jonathan Dayton team up with Valerie Faris, as they both made their feature film live action directorial debut.

Little Miss Sunshine follows a dysfunctional family as they take a cross-country road trip to get their youngest daughter to a beauty pageant.

This is a movie that offers just about everything, and is touching and funny from start to finish.

The movie went on to be a critical and commercial success and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

- The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right was one of the breakout Sundance hits of 2010 as Lisa Cholodenko returned to the director's chair.

Written by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, the film follows two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their father into their family life.

What is so great about this movie is that it is a look into the disjointed modern family, the fact that it’s a same-sex relationship really is a bit of a footnote.

Cholodenko looks at the monotony of everyday life and how marriages become routine, not to mention the run of the mill fallouts between children and their parents.

Much like Little Miss Sunshine, The Kids Are All Right was a huge critical success and was also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

- Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs is widely regarded as one of the greatest gangster movies of all time, but it was a film that started life at Sundance.

The movie marked the directorial debut for Quentin Tarantino; he also penned the screenplay.

The movie follows a group of criminals after a jewellery heist goes wrong... but which one of them is to blame?

The movie gave audiences a first look at the nonlinear storylines and stylistically excessive violence that he is now so famous.

Instead of focusing on the heist, Tarantino sets the movie after the event on which the story hinges and instead makes this a character-based film.

Reservoir Dogs is a triumph in every way and introduced us to the talent that is Tarantino. This is a movie that is as fresh today as it was when it was released.

- The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project was one of the movies that grabbed everyone's attention at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival as Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick teamed up to make their directorial debuts.

Made on a tiny budget of $35,000 the film follows the story of three student filmmakers who go into the Black Hills of Burkittsville to film a documentary on local legend The Blair Witch - their bodies were never found.

The film was shot in amateur documentary style and changed the way that horror movies were shot forever.

The film grossed $248 million at the global box office, making it one of the most successful independent movies. It also had the highest profit-to-cost ration making back over $10,000 for every dollar spent.

The Blair Witch Project is widely regarded as one of the stand out films of the nineties, as well as the film that really used the internet to promote a movie for the first time.

- The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back was one of the highlights of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival line-up - it was also one of my favourite movies of the year.

Amazingly, the movie marked the directorial debuts for both Nat Faxon and Jim Rash - who had both penned the screenplay - and together they delivered the best coming of age films that I have seen for some time.

The film follows a shy fourteen-year-old boy who is on holiday with his mother and her overbearing boyfriend. He finds an unexpected friend in Water Park manage Owen, where he has secretly started working.

I loved this movie from the opening minute to the closing credits as it is a movie that has so much heart - it really was a blast of fresh air from all the blockbusters that hit the big screen last summer.

Through into the mix a fantastic ensemble cast, that included Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette and Steve Carell, as well as some sparkling dialogue and you do have a gem of a film.

- The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects is film that has one of the greatest twists of all time as Bryan Singer returned to the director's chair.

A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police line-up.

The Usual Suspects is a fantastically constructed film - it starts with a simple plot, but Singer adds layers, twists, and turns to deliver a terrific story.

It is imaginative and slick and was one of the best crime movies of the nineties.

It is hard to believe that this movie will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2015, as it is a film that really has stood up to the passage of time.

- Clerks

Clerks was one of the stand out films at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994.

The movie picked up the Filmmakers Trophy and marked the arrival of director and writer Kevin Smith.

The movie follows a day in the life of Dante and Randal - two convenience clerks.

Clerks is a movie that really is a laugh a minute, and remains Smith's greatest directing triumph.

There is just something so incredibly authentic and real about this film and that give it a real spark and energy.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival is an impressive one and runs from January 16-26.

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