Here is part 2 of my early award contending films. Birth of a Nation is the feature film debut for veteran actor Nate Parker, yet this film appears to be a top tier front-runner among early front-runners, though that can be a precarious position. Birth of a Nation, which also stars Parker along with Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Junior, Colman Domingo and more, had quite the splash at Sundance. Not only did Fox Searchlight pick up the feature for the very tidy sum of a rumored $17 million-plus, but it also won both the Audience and Grand Jury Prize at the festival. Warning though, others have matched that feat at Sundance, only to shrivel in release. Still, this has the power of Searchlight behind it, which is nothing to scoff at. The distributor is an apex Award-getter, with Best Picture wins for Birdman (2014), 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Indiewire noted recently the company has more Best Picture nominations than any other company, so not bad company to be in.
The feature centers on Nat Turner (Nate Parker) who as a child is taught to read so he can study the Bible and minister to his fellow slaves. Later, his master takes him across the country on a preaching tour for profit, but while on his journey, Turner begins to see the scope of slavery and decides to become a different kind of leader.