the year 2012 saw the release of twenty-nine-year-old director Benh Zeitlin's first feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild. This independent film and its unknown cast enjoyed immediate fanfare, garnering the Caméra d'Or at Cannes, the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and four Oscar nominations. Its success on the award circuit was matched, at least initially, by acclaim from the reviewing establishment. Writing for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis called Beasts the “standout of this year's Sundance and among the best films to play at the festival in two decades.” In the same publication, A. O. Scott raved, “This movie is a blast of sheer, improbable joy.” For Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, “Beasts is some kind of miracle.” A rogerebert.com critic similarly gushed, “Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you've never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius” (...

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