Movieline Picks 8 Competition Films to Watch for at Sundance 2010

The Sundance Film Festival has announced its films in competition, and even though there are plenty of non-competition films to come, what's there already is definitely intriguing. Which 8 films are we most curious about? Read on to find out:

1) Howl

Directors: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Since his fantastic 2008 double-header of Milk and Pineapple Express, James Franco's made more headlines for his TV tomfoolery and college course-taking. Howl (pictured above) returns Franco to his indie roots in this unconventional biopic of poet Allen Ginsberg that also stars David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, and Mary-Louise Parker. Co-director Rob Epstein is no stranger to Franco's work -- he directed the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which heavily inspired Gus Van Sant's take on the slain politician.

2) Welcome to the Rileys

Director: Jake Scott

Ridley Scott's son Jake has been a sterling music video director (he helmed "Everybody Hurts" for R.E.M. and "Fake Plastic Trees" for Radiohead), but his only feature film credit is the misguided 1999 action comedy Plunkett and MacLeane. A decade later, Jake's giving it another go with Welcome to the Rileys, already notorious as the movie where Twilight's Kristen Stewart plays a troubled stripper. James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo costar as the couple who takes her in.

3) Hesher

Director: Spencer Susser

Another music video director hitting up Sundance this year is Spencer Susser, who made his name directing videos for...uh...Crazy Town and The Offspring. Well, we all gotta start somewhere! Presumably there's more to Susser than that, as he managed to lure a tatted-up Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman to star in the story of a 13-year-old boy who becomes entangled with an off-kilter mentor (Gordon-Levitt) and a grocery clerk (Portman).

4) Lucky

Director: Jeffrey Blitz

Jeffrey Blitz directed one of the most crowd-pleasing documentaries ever: Spellbound, the tale of precocious kids competing to become spelling bee champion. He mined a similar milieu for his narrative feature debut, Rocket Science, but he's returned to the doc world for Lucky, which follows the lives of ordinary people after they've hit the lottery jackpot.

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