Did any Oscar contenders emerge from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival?

Over the weekend, the Sundance Film Festival wrapped up for 2017 with its annual awards ceremony. Now, you can’t really look at their award choice and assume anything, in terms of Academy crossover, but it never hurts to check in. The premiere independent festival usually has some kind of Oscar representation in a given year, so while we’re still looking at the 2016 releases on the Academy Award circuit, these potential 2017 releases are essentially launching a campaign right now. It’s just a longer one. So, let us peek in on what Sundance this year might end up offering the precursor season down the line. Oh well, here goes nothing. Last year, we notably had The Birth of a Nation initially emerge as a presumed Oscar lock, though it ultimately was Manchester by the Sea that became an Academy Award favorite. Other alums from last year included Camerperson, Captain Fantastic, Christine, Gleason, Life, Animated, Love and Friendship, Sing Street, and Weiner, some of which were also able to score citations from the Academy.

That’s about par for the course, though had The Birth of a Nation not run into its Nate Parker related controversies, things could have been different. Instead, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea picked up the Sundance darling mantle and ran with it. This year, there aren’t any truly can’t miss awards contenders, Manchester by the Sea style, though a few possibilities do stand out. Potential players like The Big Sick, Call Me By Your Name, Chasing Coral, The Hero, An Inconvenient Sequel, Mudbound, Wind River, and possibly The Yellow Birds present options in the months to come, if any catch on. One of the most praised films at Sundance this year was A Ghost Story, but that feels far too indie to really contend with Oscar. A lot will depend on how some of these movies do once they move beyond Park City. Look for which end up going to the Cannes Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and so on. That will be our first hint for which Sundance players have bigger hopes. My best guess is that nothing really catches on like Manchester by the Sea did, though that remains to be seen. Mudbound appears like the easiest awards play of the lot, but watch out for The Big Sick and Call Me By Your Name as well. It’s all guesswork right now. Below you can see the prize winners from Sundance that were announced a few days ago, so you can try and pick out potential players yourself. It’ll be a waiting game, that much is clear, as nothing is clear cut. Sit tight and focus on the impending Oscars, as we’ll get to next year in due time.
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