Oscars 2018: Netflix looking to break through with Sundance sensation ‘Mudbound’

Emmy powerhouse Netflix releases its Oscar contenders on the same day in both theaters and online. It took that approach two years ago with the critically acclaimed “Beasts of No Nation.” While the SAG Awards embraced this gritty look at child soldiers, it was spurned by academy voters. This year, the streaming service snagged a strong awards hopeful at Sundance, when it paid $12.5 million for distribution rights to Dee Rees‘s “Mudbound.”

The director, best known for “Pariah,” worked with Virgil Williams to adapt Hillary Jordan‘s acclaimed novel of the same name about a WWII vet (Jason Clarke) who moves with his wife (Carey Mulligan) to rural Mississippi. They befriend an African American vet (Jason Mitchell) and his wife (Mary J. Blige) who work as sharecroppers. Netflix plans to promote the picture in the fall with a slew of events geared to awards voters before it premieres on the streaming service.

It took a similar tack with Bong Joon-ho ‘s sci-fi fantasy “Okja,” which was a sensation at Cannes. This new fantasy film by Koren filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (“Snowpiercer”) tells the heartwarming story of young Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun). She fights to stop Tilda Swinton’s powerful company from kidnapping her friend, a giant creature named Okja.

Also screening at Cannes was another Netflix title, Noah Baumbach‘s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” which does not have a confirmed release date in 2017 as of yet.

Below, detailed listings of each of these Oscar contenders, including release dates, creative types, cast lists, running times, plot summaries,  and receptions both critical and commercial.

“Mudbound” – TBD
Director: Dee Rees
Writers: Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (based on the novel by Hillary Jordan)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jonathan Banks, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Kerry Cahill, Mary J. Blige

Summary: Dee Rees’ period drama centers on two WWII veterans who return to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle against race relations while trying to adjust to life after the war.

“Okja” – June 28
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Writers: Bong Joon-ho and Jon Ronson
Cast: Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun, and Jake Gyllenhaal
Running Time: 120 minutes
Reception: Rotten Tomatoes – 85; MetaCritic – 76

Summary:  Mija, a young girl, risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a fascinating animal named Okja.

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