It's a winter ritual at the
At least four dramas that premiered at Sundance a year ago - including
Robert Redford's festival was started to give young filmmakers a showcase and help them connect with distributors to land their films in the real world. As the festival has grown, so has the quality and caliber of talent, and almost every year now, a few films emerge from Sundance to compete with the best of what the studios have to offer at the Oscars.
The urban drama
The Ozark crime tale "Winter's Bone" earned Sundance's top honor a year ago and now is in the running for a best-picture Oscar nomination, along with a best-actress slot for
"As you start to go down lists of films that came out in the last year, you look for that kind of raw creativity," said festival director John Cooper. "That's why something like a `Winter's Bone' rises up and surpasses other less interesting Hollywood movies that came out."
The lesbian-family tale "The Kids Are All Right" also is a strong contender for a best-picture Oscar nomination. Annette Bening won a
The marital drama "Blue Valentine" has lead-acting prospects at the Oscars for
Other past Oscar contenders that came out of Sundance include "Little Miss Sunshine," "In the Bedroom," "You Can Count on Me," "Hustle & Flow" and "Junebug."
Among last year's Sundance documentaries with Oscar prospects is the public school study "Waiting for `Superman'" from director
Others in the awards picture after playing Sundance last year include the war-on-terror documentaries
With the festival's strong commitment to documentaries, Sundance almost always serves as an incubator for films that will be on the awards map down the road.
"I think it is the beginning of a film's life in North America. At the beginning of the year, you often get a glimpse of some of the main contenders next year," said James Marsh, whose portrait of a World Trade Center daredevil, "
Marsh returns to Sundance this time with
Also back at Sundance is Morgan Spurlock, who came to the festival in 2004 with "Super Size Me," his fast-food expose in which he ate nothing but McDonald's meals for a month. A year later, "Super Size Me" had an Oscar nomination for best documentary.
Spurlock's Sundance premiere this time is
"I don't stand in the shower and hold up shampoo bottles giving Oscar speeches just for fun," Spurlock said. "Once you go, you think, God, I hope I get to go again sometime."