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For Your Consideration: Sundance and Next Year's Oscars

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 30, 2013 at 1:40PM

Now that it's all over, let's take an Oscar-specific look at this year's Sundance Film Festival, which could very well work as a partial crystal ball into what will be happening in the awards race a year from now. 
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"Before Midnight"
"Before Midnight"

Now that it's all over, let's take an Oscar-specific look at this year's Sundance Film Festival, which could very well work as a partial crystal ball into what will be happening in the awards race a year from now. 

In the past few years, the best picture-nominated likes of "Precious," "An Education," "The Kids Are All Right," and "Winter's Bone" all debuted at festival. Last year's crop was no exception, with "Beasts of the Southern Wild" turning out to be a remarkable Sundance success story when it came to the big O, nabbing four nominations including best picture and best director a year later.

READ MORE: 'Before Midnight,' 'Upstream Color,' and 'After Tiller' Top Indiewire's 2013 Sundance Critics Poll

Other films from the 2012 fest to manage nominations included "The Sessions," which got a nod for Helen Hunt's supporting performance (though was notably snubbed in best actor for John Hawkes) , and four of the five best documentary feature nominees -- "5 Broken Cameras," "How To Survive a Plague," "The Invisible War" and "Searching For Sugar Man."

It's obviously way too soon to know anything for certain (no one would have initially predicted "Beasts " would do as well as it did a year ago), but let's run down the few possibilities from the 2013 edition:

"Fruitvale."
Sundance "Fruitvale."
Best Picture: Three of the past four years has seen the festival's Grand Jury Prize for best U.S. dramatic film get a nomination for best picture ("Precious" in 2009, "Winter's Bone" in 2010, and "Beasts" last year -- sorry "Like Crazy"). Does that suggest this year's incredibly affecting winner,  Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale," will continue the streak? Maybe, given its major sale to The Weinstein Company and its across-the-board acclaim. It would also become only the second best picture nominee directed by an African-American (after "Precious").  And while that's definitely a possibility, I'd wager the most likely Sundance 2013 film to make Oscar's top category is Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight." Back in 2004, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater got a screenplay nomination for "Midnight"'s predecessor "Before Sunset" and I can't see why that wouldn't repeat for "Midnight." It's just as good if not better, and the achievement it pulls off -- basically culminating the greatest trilogy ever in independent American film (though I guess there's not exactly many other examples) -- might help it get a best picture nomination as well.  Beyond those two, though? "The Spectacular Now" and "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" have outside chances, but they are likely more destined to get a bunch of Spirit Award nominations.

Most Likely To Succeed: Before Midnight
Reasonable Possibilty: Fruitvale
Dark Horses: The Spectacular Now; Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Best Actor: There was an embarrassment of riches in lead male performances at Sundance, with the best of them collectively worthy of Oscar's entire best actor lineup in itself. Like best picture, the films with the best shots are probably "Before Midnight" and "Fruitvale." The former finds Ethan Hawke in probably his best performance ever (though his co-star Delpy has the showier part is the more likely of the two to get a nomination), while 25 year old Michael B. Jordan (known best for his incredible work in TV series "The Wire" and "Friday Night Lights") is something of a revelation in "Fruitvale," though this category does not often nominate men his age (only 7 men under 27 have been nominated). That said, one of those men was Ryan Gosling for Sundance alum "Half Nelson," so perhaps Jordan is this year's equivalent. Though another potential nominee is 2 weeks younger than Jordan: Miles Teller, who actually topped Indiewire's poll of Sundance's best lead performances for his lovely work in "The Spectacular Now." 

Most Likely To Succeed: Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Reasonable Possibilities: Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale; Miles Teller, The Spectacular Now
Dark Horses: Casey Affleck, Ain't Them Bodies Saints; Isaiah Washington, Blue Caprice; Daniel Radcliffe, Kill Your Darlings

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Fruitvale, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Before Midnight







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