Hollywood Continues to Use Telluride Film Festival to Launch Oscar Contenders

Hollywood Continues to Use Telluride Film Festival to Launch Oscar Contenders
Hollywood Continues Use Telluride Film Festival Launch Oscar Contenders

One of the tricks of the Telluride trade is to offer a classy tribute to a major talent who will then unveil their latest film. Robert Redford introduced “All is Lost,” George Clooney talked up “The Descendants,” and so on. This year fest veteran Danny Boyle will be accepting a Silver Medallion Award. One of the pleasures of the festival is to interview some of these folks (Boyle with eventual Best Picture Oscar-winner “Slumdog Millionaire,” Jean-Marc Vallee with “Wild,”Jason Reitman with “Up in the Air” and Bennett Miller with “Capote” come to mind), before they hit the lengthy PR circuit.

Thus Boyle’s tribute serves as a vehicle for debuting “Steve Jobs” well before its gala at the New York Film Festival–and starting the awards drumbeat with the select media corps in attendance (including me). Also getting a medallion is Rooney Mara, who may seem a tad young for such an award, but she did win Best Actress at Cannes for her stunning portrayal of a department store clerk in love with an older woman (Cate Blanchett) in Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” which Harvey Weinstein will be pushing hard this Oscar season.

By giving the 2015 Special Medallion (for “heroes of cinema”) to Participant Media production heads Jonathan King (features) and Diane Weyermann (documentaries), Telluride gets to show Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim’s documentary awards contender “He Named Me Malala,” from fest regular Fox Searchlight, as well as Venice hits from Cary Fukunaga (“Beasts of No Nation”) and Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), which are now building serious awards buzz.

READ MORE: Venice Review: ‘Spotlight’ Wows with Stellar Ensemble Cast Led by Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton

Warner Bros. has had good luck debuting eventual Oscar-winners “Argo” and “Gravity” at Telluride, and returns with Scott Cooper’s Venice title “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp in a character role as gangster Whitey Bulger.

Aiming for some festival momentum as well is Focus Features’ “Suffragette,” starring Carey Mulligan, who launched her career at Telluride with “An Education.” And Berlin debut “45 Years” from Andrew Haigh, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a married couple dealing with a long-buried secret, is sure to play well with this astute cinephile crowd before it builds steam in Toronto for an eventual Oscar bid. A24 is also rolling out “Room,” starring Brie Larson as a woman living in confinement with her young son, before it plays in Toronto.

Also getting a Silver Medallion is UK avant-garde documentarian Adam Curtis (“The Power of Nightmares”), who will screen his BBC experimental documentary “Bitter Lake.”

This year TFF will screen over seventy-five features and shorts and revivals from twenty-seven countries, along with artist tributes, conversations, panels and student events. The Telluride main program, always impeccably curated by fest co-directors Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger, not only includes many expected festival favorites like Cannes prize-winner and Hungary’s Oscar submission “Son of Saul,” from Telluride regulars Sony Pictures Classics, but many first-time showings (the festival shies away from the nomenclature “world premieres”).

READ MORE: Telluride Announces 2015 Lineup

As always there will be additional Sneak Previews (Venice opener “Everest”?) playing outside the main program (update and full program here). 

  • CAROL (d. Todd Haynes, U.S., 2015) (Weinstein Co.,Cannes, NYFF)
  • AMAZING GRACE (d. Sydney Pollack, U.S., 1972/2015) (acquisition documentary, TIFF, WME)
  • ANOMALISA (d. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, U.S., 2015) (R-rated animated feature acquisition title,Venice, TIFF)
  • BEASTS OF NO NATION (d. Cary Fukunaga, U.S., 2015) (Netflix/Bleecker Street,Venice, TIFF)
  • HE NAMED ME MALALA (d. Davis Guggenheim, U.S., 2015) (Fox Searchlight, TIFF)
  • STEVE JOBS (d. Danny Boyle, U.S., 2015) (Universal, NYFF)
  • IXCANUL (d. Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, 2015) (Kino Lorber, Oscar entry, TIFF)
  • BITTER LAKE (d. Adam Curtis, U.K., 2015) (BBC VOD title)
  • ROOM (d. Lenny Abrahamson, England, 2015) (A24, TIFF)
  • BLACK MASS (d. Scott Cooper, U.S., 2015) (Warner Bros., Venice, TIFF)
  • SUFFRAGETTE (d. Sarah Gavron, U.K., 2015) (Focus Features, TIFF, London)
  • SPOTLIGHT (d. Tom McCarthy, U.S., 2015) (Open Road, Venice, TIFF)
  • RAMS (d. Grímur Hákonarson, Iceland, 2015) (Cohen Media Group,Cannes, TIFF)
  • MOM AND ME (d. Ken Wardrop, Ireland, 2015) (documentary)
  • VIVA (d. Paddy Breathnach, Ireland, 2015) (feature)
  • TAJ MAJAL (d. Nicolas Saada, France-India, 2015) (Venice)
  • SITI (d. Eddie Cahyono, Indonesia, 2015) (feature)
  • HEART OF THE DOG (d. Laurie Anderson, U.S. 2014) (Abramorama, Venice, TIFF, NYFF)
  • 45 YEARS (d. Andrew Haigh, England, 2015) (Sundance Selects, Berlin, TIFF)
  • SON OF SAUL (d. Lázló Nemes, Hungary, 2015) (Sony Pictures Classics, Cannes, TIFF, NYFF)
  • ONLY THE DEAD SEE THE END OF WAR (d. Michael Ware, Bill Guttentag, U.S.- Australia, 2015) (acquisition documentary, Sydney, New Zealand,Melbourne)
  • TAXI (d. Jafar Panahi, Iran, 2015) (Kino Lorber, Berlin, TIFF, London)
  • HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (d. Kent Jones, U.S., 2015) (Cohen Media Group, Cannes, TIFF, London)
  • TIME TO CHOOSE (d. Charles Ferguson, U.S., 2015) (acquisition documentary, Cinetic Media)
  • MARGUERITE (d. Xavier Giannoli, France, 2015) (Cohen Media Group, Venice)
  • TIKKUN (d. Avishai Sivan, Israel, 2015) (Kino Lorber, Jerusalem, Locarno, Sarajevo)
  • WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (d. Evgeny Afineevsky, Russia-Ukraine, 2015) (Netflix documentary, Venice,TIFF)
  • Guest Director, novelist Rachel Kushner (“The Flamethrowers”), who was invited to attend the festival last year, presents the following revival programs:
  • THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE (d. Jean Eustache, France, 1973)
  • MES PETITES AMOUREUSES (d. Jean Eustache, France, 1974)
  • WAKE IN FRIGHT (d. Ted Kotcheff, Australia, 1971)
  • COCKSUCKER BLUES (d. Robert Frank, U.S., 1979)
  • A DAY IN THE COUNTRY (d. Jean Renoir, France, 1936) + UNCLE YANCO (d. Agnès Varda, France, 1967)
  • THE MATTEI AFFAIR (d. Francesco Rosi, Italy, 1972)
  • Additional film revival programs include DIE NIBELUNGEN (d. Fritz Lang, Germany, 1924) presented by Pordenone Silent Film Festival; L’INHUMAINE (d. Marcel L’Herbier, France, 1924) with the Alloy Orchestra; RETOUR DE FLAMME, a collection of short films curated by Serge Bromberg; and RESTORING NAPOLEON with Georges Mourier who is currently overseeing the six-and-half-hour restoration of the film for Cinémathèque Francaise.
  • Backlot, Telluride’s intimate screening room featuring behind-the-scenes movies and portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers, will screen the following nine programs:· 
  •  CINEMA: A PUBLIC AFFAIR (d. Tatiana Brandrup, Russia, 2015)
  •  THE CENTURY OF THE SELF (d. Adam Curtis, U.K., 2002)
  • INGRID BERGMAN – IN HER OWN WORDS (d. Stig Björkman, Sweden, 2015) (Rialto Pictures,Cannes)
  • IN THE SHADOW OF THE GREAT OAKS (d. George Mourier, France, 2005)
  • PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT (d. Lisa Immordino Vreeland, U.S., 2015) (acquisition title,Tribeca)
  • SEMBENE! (d. Samba Gadjigo, Jason Silverman, U.S.-Senegal, 2015) (Kino Lorber, Sundance, Cannes, London)
  • DREAMING AGAINST THE WORLD (d. Tim Sternberg, Francisco Bello, U.S., 2015) + TYRUS (Pamela Tom, U.S., 2015) (shorts)
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