Published January 22, 2017 by Patrick Ryan
PARK CITY, Utah — Oscar nominations aren’t out until Tuesday, but next year’s awards already have their first major contender.
Period drama Mudbound was rapturously received Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, where its world premiere was greeted with two standing ovations as the credits rolled and director Dee Rees took the stage. Featuring a star-studded cast led by Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige and Jason Clarke, the post-World War II epic follows two families grappling with racism, forbidden love and the effects of combat in rural Mississippi.
“I saw this as being a story of two families with amazing women,” Rees said. “Basically, I wanted to juxtapose the battle at home vs. the battle abroad, with the battle at home sometimes being even bloodier than the battle abroad; just to show these two families fighting on the front lines.”
Festival-goers took to Twitter swiftly after the first screening with glowing reviews, calling the film “astounding,” “brutal” and “pure cinema.” In Sundance tradition, many were quick to dub Mudbound the starting pistol to the 2018 Oscar race, while others saw similarities to the ecstatic response The Birth of a Nation received last year, before the drama fell out of favor in light of filmmaker Nate Parker’s resurfaced rape allegations.
Mudbound is still looking for a U.S. distributor and no theatrical release date has been set.