Nine months after its Sundance ’12 debut, I finally saw Ava Duvernay‘s Middle of Nowhere last night, and I’m completely on board with Sasha Stone and all the Rotten Tomatoes critics who’ve given it high praise. It’s perhaps a bit too slowly paced for some, perhaps a shade too plodding, but this, for me, is as good as low-budget naturalism and carefully measured, emotionally dug-in performances get. I wasn’t sure at first but within 10 or 15 minutes I’d succumbed. Clean, straight, no b.s., truth.

I’m glad that a friend and I attended last night’s screening at West Hollywood’s Sundance plex because Emayatzy Corinealdi, who delivers a quiet, steady, home-run performance as an emotionally torn wife of a convict, showed up to take questions after the show. I introduced myself and told her I was a friend of Sasha’s, that I agreed with her praise and that Corinealdi (who knew of Sasha’s enthusiasm) deserves a Best Actress nomination and all the rest of it.

At very, very least she deserves to win the Breakthrough Actor award from the Gothams next month or a Best Actress trophy at the Spirit Awards next February. She’s that good, that real. I respectfully disagree with Corinealdi’s decision to keep her birth name, which, no offense, will get in the way. There’s a reason why Issur Danielovitch changed his name to Kirk Douglas.

I’ll get into this a bit more tomorrow but everybody involved with this film (DuVernay, the cast, the financiers, the grips) deserves everything they can get from the awards community, the commercial revenue stream, audiences, what-have-you. Its one of those “you have to see it” little movies that could. If Pete Hammond and Tom O’Neil haven’t seen it, they need to do so immediately.

Middle of Nowhere star Emayatzy Corinealdi following q & a at West Hollywood’s Sundance Cinemas — Saturday, 10.20, 9:35 pm.