ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Indie movies aren't completely alien to the Oscars. Hell, basically every movie in the Foreign Film category are indies. Those Short Film categories? Yep, they're probably all indies too. However, every now and then an indie film breaks out of the forgotten categories and makes a beeline for Oscar glory. This year it was Beasts of the Southern Wild's turn to surprise critics by grabbing a Best Film nomination, along with a best director nod for and several other awards.

With The Sundance Film Festival currently in full-swing, we've decided to try and predict the next Beasts of the Southern Wild. Which Sundance Film will go on great Oscar success? From an early look at things, 's Ain't Them Bodies Saints seems like a strong contender.

Set in 1970s Texas, Ain't Them Bodies Saints is the story of two criminal lovers who become separated following a botched getaway. While cornered by the police, the pregnant Ruth () shoots and wounds a police officer. Sensing no way out, her husband Bob () surrenders and takes all the blame for the incident, framing Ruth as an innocent victim.

While Bob remains in prison, Ruth gives birth to their daughter under the watchful eye of her protective neighbor, Skerrit (). Meanwhile, the wounded police officer ,Patrick (), has started to show increasing affection for Ruth, who unbeknownst to him is the real shooter.

Soon Bob escapes from prison and heads to see his family. As he gets closer to Ruth, tensions increase, leading to an inevitable showdown.

In reviews, Ain't Them Bodies Saints has been consistently compared to other movies. A similarity with Bonnie and Clyde is fairly obvious, but IndieWire, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter all make several references to 's work, in particular Badlands. IndieWire claims:

It's "Badlands" with a deeper aching heart as the Bonnie and Clyde of this story yearn for each other, but are kept apart by their own misguided circumstances.

While The Hollywood Reporter states:

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints will serve most decisively to put director-writer David Lowery on the map as one of the foremost young standard bearers of the Malick and Altman schools of impressionistic mood-drenched cinema.

Such comparisons can surely only benefit Ain't Them Bodies Saints, especially if it wishes to find success with the Academy. Variety's allusions to No Country For Old Men, also give strong indications to the rustic aesthetic of the movie. Although set in the 1970s era, Ain't Them Bodies Saints' look nonetheless invokes a timeless quality. The Hollywood Reporter explain:

Emerging cinematographer Bradford Young does his most impressive work yet, combining with Lowery, production designer Jade Healy and costume designer Malgosia Turzanska to deliver a kind of timeless look that feels equal parts Old West, Depression-era Texas and the slow-to-arrive modern age.

IndieWire similarly praises the movie's "dusty gorgeous visuals" and "sun-kissed photography" - once again making references to Malick.

However, despite these comparisons, immediate mainstream success is by no means guaranteed. Indeed Variety explain:

Slow as molasses but every bit as rich, [Ain't Them Bodies Saints] may be too lyrical for mainstream expectations...

The Hollywood Reporter suggests it is an "out-and-out art film" which may only enjoy success on the festival circuit. Indeed, The New York Post's Kyle Smith claims it is nothing but an "air sandwich", going so far as to claim:

Lowery and his completely out of control D.P. Bradford Young become obsessed with their extravagantly underlit, aggressively movie-ish imagery to the near total exclusion of narrative progress.

Let's face it, a negative review from The NY Post could almost be considered a positive one for an indie flick, right? All-in-all the movies undeniable allusion to directorial greats such as Malick, the Coen Bothers, and Robert Altman surely suggests this movie is on the fast-track to critical success? We'll have to wait until next year to hear if it can live up to the likes of the Beasts of the Southern Wild. If it does, make sure to check back here so I can say I told you so.

What do you guys think? Does Ain't Them Bodies Saints deserve your attention, and do you think it could be the next Beasts of the Southern Wild? Let us know below.

If things do explode for Ain't Them Bodies Saints, make sure to [[follow]] the movie to get all the latest news for the film.


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