It is no secret that Netflix is completely revolutionizing viewable entertainment with its streaming technology and early access to recently released films, but until now the streaming giant had not thrown its hat into the ring with the big boys as far as accolades are concerned. When it comes to film, there is nothing more coveted that being recognized by The Academy — receiving an Oscar for your work as an actor, director, producer, etc. Well, it is official. Netflix is an Oscar Contender.
Enter “Mudbound,” a southern race-driven drama that garnered raving reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film is set in the rural-south during the second World War. As men come home from the war, they are faced with the fact that the racial tension they left behind as they fought for their country was waiting for them when they returned. Two families, one White and one Black are inextricably bound together by the farmland that they share as they attempt to carve out a future for themselves.
As a married couple, played by Carey Mulligan and Jason Clarke, work to keep their farm afloat in a very harsh climate, they are met with incessant challenges that they must fight to overcome. Amidst all of their struggles, they are forced to face the harsh reality of racism in the south and viciousness that it produced.
What is impressive about this film on the surface is the fact that it is willing to examine the harsh realities of Jim Crow segregation in the South and portray in a painfully accurate manner. Nothing reveals this more than the accurate depiction of the Black sharecropper who struggles to make ends meet while constantly finding themselves owing the landowner on whose land they farm. One sharecropper that has a massive impact on the playing out of the theme in this film is actually played by platinum recording artist, Mary J. Blige, who earned rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival this past January.
Blige plays a sharecropper who is the descendant of a family who has worked the land on which she rests for generations, as slaves, and as freemen. As she struggles to keep her family afloat amid a highly racially charged climate it reveals just how difficult the life of a sharecropper was during these challenging times.
Another part of the story surrounds a character played by Garret Hedlund. Hedlund plays a soldier returning home from the war while struggling with a severe case of PTSD. He befriends a Black soldier who is also struggling with PTSD, fueling a major conflict with other Whites in the area.
Dee Rees did not only direct this masterpiece, but she also wrote the screenplay. The last film that Rees directed was also riveting and heartfelt — Bessie, starring Queen Latifah. It seems that Rees is developing a reputation for taking platinum recording artists and transforming them into legitimate actors and actresses.
The movie will be featured at the Toronto Film Festival before it will be launched on Netflix and in Theatres on November 17.