Sundance Film Fest 2015: Highlights–Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight)

The snow-covered theaters in Park City can be the first stop on the long road to awards season and Oscar gold.  Sundance’s audiences tend to be discerning but older film aficionados, perhaps similar in filmic taste to that of the Oscar voters.

In 2014, Sundance launched the campaigns for best picture, including multiple Oscar-nominee “Whiplash,” which opened the festival.

Then came “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater’s masterpiece and now critics’ darling and Oscar frontrunner, a top-secret project that took 12 years to make, which unveiled at Sundance for the first time.

Variety Reports:

“Brooklyn,” a drama about an Irish immigrant’s journey to America, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday night without much advance buzz. But when the lights at the Eccles Theatre in Park City came up two hours later, to a rapturous standing ovation, it was clear that Sundance had just screened one of the best films of the year.

Within 24 hours, Fox Searchlight defeated its rival studios (including the Weinstein Co. and Focus Features) in a heated bidding war, and landed “Brooklyn” for $9 million. That deal, the biggest at this year’s festival, also kicked off the Oscars 2016 race.

“Brooklyn,” which plays like a cross between 2009’s “An Education” and 2002’s “In America” (both Oscar contenders), is anchored by a career-best performance from Saoirse Ronan as a young Irish woman who in 1952 makes the journey to New York. Ronan, who was previously Oscar-nominated for 2007’s “Atonement,” should be back at the Oscars next year.

“Brooklyn” is a sentimental period piece, featuring diverse accents. As such, it may compete in top categories like best picture, best director (John Crowley) and best screenplay (Nick Hornby for adapting Colm Toibin’s novel).