Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sundance 2013: The Winners!


Ryan Coogler's feature-- a true story about the 2008 Bay Area shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant-- won both the coveted Grand Jury Prize and Dramatic Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  The film, starring Kevin Durand, Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer, was sold to The Weinstein Company earlier in the festival and hopes to potentially join the recent past Jury Prize winners  onward to success at the Academy Awards.  Remember Precious (2009), Winter's Bone (2010) and current success story Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) all started their journey in the same place.


Steve Hoover's documentary about  Ricky Braat, who traveled to India as a disillusioned American, only to become immersed with the population of children battling HIV/AIDS, also double-dipped in winning both the Grand Jury Doc Prize and the Audience Award.

U.S. DRAMATIC DIRECTING PRIZE: Jill Soloway, Afternoon Delight
A dark comedy starring Juno Temple and Kathryn Hahn and Jane Lynch about a housewife who takes in a stripper and adopts her as her live-in nanny.  Hahn, whose made a comedic impression on Parks & Recreation, as well as the Paul Rudd comedies Our Idiot Brother and Wanderlust earned nice notices here.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY DIRECTING PRIZE: Zachary Heinzerling, Cutie & the Boxer
A New York love story that chronicles the relationship between boxing painter, Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko and their forty-year marriage.  The film was sold the Radius/The Weinstein Company.


Actress Bell (Boston Legal) directed, wrote and starred in this film about a father/daughter relationship in the professional world of movie-trailer voice over artists.

U.S. DRAMATIC CINEMATOGRAPHY AWARD: Bradford Young, Ain't Them Bodies Saints
David Lowry's Ain't Them Bodies Saints stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara is the story of an outlaw who journeys to reunite with his wife.  The film earned decent praise, with many pointing the visual grace of the film that seemed to recall Terence Malick.  The film sold to IFC Films.

U.S. DRAMATIC SPECIAL JURY AWARD: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Written by (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustader and Michael H. Weber, and directed by James Ponsoldt (Smashed), actors Teller (Rabbit Hole) and Woodley (The Descendants) were cited for their performances in the film about a budding high school relationship.  Distributor A24 picked up the film.

Full list of winners.

Other highlights of the festival included Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut, Don Jon's Addiction, a film starring "Robin" as a porn-addicted Jersey boy with whom Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore try to cure-- the film earned lukewarm notices, but was picked up by Relativity Media.  Fox Searchlight picked up The Way Way Back, directed by The Descendants scribes Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, a comedy starring Steve Carrel, Sam Rockwell and Toni Collette, and was the biggest sale of this years festival at nearly $10 million.  Sony Pictures Classics secured Austenland, a comedy starring Keri Russell as a Jane Austen-obsessive who journeys to live in the novelists works for a retreat.

The biggest deal, in my mind at this Sundance Film Festival, was the unveiling of the third part of Richard Linklater's master Before series.  Before Midnight, the continuation of the grand brief romance, Before Sunrise, that started eighteen years ago on a fateful train trip to Vienna between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and reignited nine years later with the better, leaner, even more heavenly wistful Before Sunset debuted to ravishing reviews and sold to Sony Pictures Classics. Oh, Jesse and Celene, I want to visit you now!!!!

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