Sam Elliott, 'The Hero'
We're not the kind of folks to use Sundance as a crystal ball for hyperventilating awards prognostication. (OMG, Oscars 2018 – it's only 12 months away, people!!!) But let's just say we'd be very surprised if Sam Elliott's name isn't being bandied about this time next year in regards to his performance in Brett Haley's character study about an aging movie star. The film has more than its share of flaws; Elliott's take on a pot-smoking, regret-filled Western icon dealing with second chances and autumn-years ennui, however, is virtually perfect. The recent run he's had with Haley's debut I'll See You in My Dreams, the Lily Tomlin vehicle Grandma and a villainous arc on TV's Justified all seem to be leading up to this part; the moment we stop treating him as just the craggy sum of his baritone voice and peerless mustache, and begin referring to him as a canon-worthy dramatic actor, has officially arrived.