Jockey Trailer: Clifton Collins Jr. Is an Oscar Season Dark Horse in Sundance Winner

Director Clint Bentley stole the hearts of audiences at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where star Clifton Collins Jr. won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for his performance as a horse racer seeking redemption in his middle age. Bentley’s debut feature also most recently took the Audience Award at Los Angeles’ AFI FEST. Distributor Sony Pictures Classics is looking to position the film as an awards contender, with a theatrical release slated for December 29. Exclusive to IndieWire, watch the official trailer for the film below.

Here’s the official synopsis: “An aging jockey (Clifton Collins Jr.), hopes to win one last title for his longtime trainer (Molly Parker), who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years — and injuries — have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion. And the arrival of a young rookie rider (Moises Arias), who claims to be his son, and whom he takes under his wing, further complicates the path to fulfilling his dream.”

“Jockey” has a vérité, documentary-like texture due to the fact that the filmmakers immersed themselves in a real racetrack in Arizona, casting actual jockeys in peripheral roles. Bentley’s feature debut is confidently assembled, with the world captured by cinematographer Adolpho Veloso seeming to exist entirely in that magic hour that casts ghostly rays of sunlight across the desert plain. Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner, the brothers behind indie band The National, contribute an atmospheric score that lends a sense of longing and regret to the air.

Collins, also an executive producer here, gets possibly his meatiest role ever as a horse racer whose tenacity is also his Achilles’ heel. Physically, Collins slips into Jackson’s pain, stuck in a perpetual lurch when he’s not on the racetrack. The performance is a deeply lived one, not only in terms of what appears to be the actor’s all-in plunge into what actually goes into horse-racing, but also because of the sadness Jackson constantly seems to emanate. “Jockey” doesn’t map out exactly what’s in store for Jackson by the end of it all, but it does show he has a path forward, even when redemption remains that elusive thing ahead.

Read IndieWire’s full review out of Sundance here and watch the trailer below.

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