I always miss good movies at Sundance, every time, and one I missed last January is an intimate relationship drama called Off the Black. Directed and written by James Ponsoldt, the film has no website (a mistake) but ThinkFilm is releasing it on 12.1.06. I can’t seem to find a nice, tight little one-line description but it has something do with a high-school umpire (played by Nick Nolte) and a screwed-up kid (Trevor Morgan) and the kid’s not-very-nurturing father (Tim Hutton ).

I’m particularly interested because I’m a big Nolte fan (I thought he should have gotten more attention last year for his suporting performance in The Beautiful Country) and because I’ve been hearing that Off The Black might turn into a Best Actor Oscar shot for the guy in a small-time, limited-ad-budget, little-Oscar-campaign-that-could sort of way. Like Felicity Huffman managed to do with Transamerica, and Laura Linney managed with You Can Count on Me….one of those deals.
A guy named Matt Park wrote me this morning saying “this is the best performance Nolte has ever delivered. He said something about he and his girlfriend being choked up when the lights came up at the Eccles but you have to watch that stuff. Nolte’s umpire, he wrote, is “rough, vulgar, hilarious…he breaks your heart. And the film manages to be honest and emotional and funny without ever being overly sentimental. It felt like some of my favorite flicks from the 70’s.”
I’ve had to remind myself three times so far that Ponsoldt’s film isn’t called Into the Black. It’s a funny title. It doesn’t seem to “say” anything.
I’m going to be seeing it in two or three days, but the trades apparently liked it and so did MCN’s Stu Van Airsdale, and I’m wondering if anyone’s who’s seen it since has any reactions to share.