After generating solid Oscar buzz out of Sundance and Toronto, Dee Rees’ Mudbound has landed another prime slot on the festival circuit.
The AFI Fest announced Tuesday the historical drama starring Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Jason Clarke, and Mary J. Blige will kick off the annual event with an opening night gala presentation on Nov. 9 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
Netflix’s original title, about the unifying relationship between two men from separate families — one black, another white — occupying the same plot of land in the racially contentious Mississippi Delta during World War II, is widely speculated to be one of the streaming giant’s major awards bets this season, after completing well-received runs for festival audiences around the world.
Though Netflix has fared well with the Academy’s documentary branch, its slate of fiction features has yet to land any major nods.
While AFI has shepherded several above-the-line Oscar contenders into the race in years past (Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper), recent festival launchers like Warren Beatty’s 2016 directorial return Rules Don’t Apply, Angelina Jolie’s 2015 period drama By the Sea, and the gritty Oscar Isaac/Jessica Chastain crime story A Most Violent Year each received zero Oscar nominations. Saving Mr. Banks and Hitchcock, which fronted the festival in 2013 and 2012, showed up in one Academy category each: best original score and best makeup and hairstyling, respectively.
Mudbound hits Netflix and a select group of theaters for an Oscar-qualifying run on Nov. 17. Watch the film’s teaser trailer above.