HitFix

Did the 2016 Oscar race start at the Sundance Film Festival this month?

If it's the beginning of February we're not just talking about who is going to win the Oscars in a few weeks, but who is going to be nominated next year. That's right, another edition of the Sundance Film Festival has come to an end and with it a slew of potential awards season players.  

Sure, we know what you're thinking: “Really? Sundance? Doesn't awards season really start in earnest at Cannes?” Actually, no, no it doesn't. Since it appears this fact escapes anyone who covers the movie industry — let alone Oscar — let's go over it one more time shall we?  

Some quick facts:

A film that debuted at Sundance has been nominated for Best Picture six out of the last nine years. There were three years, including 2015, where two films were nominated (the other was 2010 when “An Education” and “Precious” and 2011 when “Winter's Bone” and “The Kids Are All Right” earned nods).*

– While a Best Actor nomination is bizarrely rare (“Half Nelson's” Ryan Gosling is the last nominee* and “Shine's” Geoffrey Rush is the only winner), Best Actress is certainly not. Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Michelle Williams (“Blue Valentine”), Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter's Bone”) Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”), Catalina Sandino Moreno (“Maria Full of Grace”), Laura Linney (“The Savages”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”) and Sissy Spacek (“In the Bedroom”) all started their nomination journeys in Park City. And, yes, there were two nominees each in 2010 and 2011.

– Best Supporting Actress is hot and cold with Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”), Jacki Weaver (“Animal Kingdom), Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Amy Adams (“Junebug”), Holly Hunter (“Thirteen”) and Patricia Clarkson (“Pieces of April”). Oh, and one of the most worthy winners of the last decade, Mo'Nique for “Precious.”

– Best Supporting Actor is also up and down, but Mark Ruffalo (“The Kids Are All Right”), John Hawkes (“Winter's Bone”), Woody Harrelson (“The Messenger”), Alec Baldwin (“The Cooler”) and two winners in Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) and Kevin Spacey (“The Usual Suspects”) is nothing to sneeze at.

– Best Director has been tough to crack with Lee Daniels (“Precious”) breaking an 11-year drought following Scott Hicks' nod for “Shine” in 1997. Only Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) have made the cut since.

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