With the fall film festival season now off and running and Venice underway, we've already packed our bags and adjusted our calendars to fit as many movies as we can. However, in the case of the Telluride Film Festival, we and all the other attendees don't know what's playing until the day of. Yep, that's right, Telluride won't unveil their slate until August 31st, so curious moviegoers will have to live by the luck of the draw.
Earlier this week we dropped our Venice Film Festival preview, and you'll soon have our Toronto International Film Festival preview as well, but in the interim, here's our pragmatically based wishlist for the Telluride. Sure, we'd love for "The Master," "Cloud Atlas," "To the Wonder," "Only God Forgives" and James Gray's new film to pop up, but the fact of the matter is they won't (or at least the 2013 films won't), so there's little point in wasting your time with pipe dreams. Telluride likes to be its own unique little beast and so with Paul Thomas Anderson's film already screening numerous cities and hitting Venice and Toronto, it's very doubtful the picture is going to surface (plus we've already heard legitimate rumors that it won't). So again, some practical guesses and wishes below.
There’s got to be at least one “big” film at Telluride from the fall film festival season. Like we said, “The Master” is out and “Cloud Atlas” doesn’t seem like the right fit, so our guess and hope is that Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” is the big ticket showpiece. The film seems to be drawn from autobiographical elements in Malick’s life (the marriages, the affairs, the time spent in Paris) and ostensibly seems to be about love, desire, life and regret, presented in what sounds like a more fragmented and experimental approach than usual. Starring a pretty typically killer cast that includes Javier Bardem, Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams, the film is said to also have some resonant political and economic issues within in it as well, though we assume most of that will be side texture and not the focus. Malick’s been on a creative tear of late. “To the Wonder” was shot, edited and completed in about two years, which for the usually labor intensive director seems unusually brief. His first picture to come in under two hours since "Days of Heaven," Malick is now shooting back-to-back films as we speak and one has to, ahem, wonder: is this a new fertile, creative period for the notoriously shy director? One in which we may not have to wait decades between pictures? One can only hope.
The long road to the 2010 Oscars for “The King’s Speech” seems like it kicked off at TIFF that year where the picture won the coveted audience award (which has been somewhat of an Oscar Best Picture augur in recent years), but the campaign actually started in Telluride. Likewise, while “The Artist” started out in Cannes, its first American festival appearance was in Colorado. So it’s clear The Weinstein Company and Harvey like to start their campaigns there. With “The Master” likely being a no show, TWC will probably want some kind of fall picture there. It could be “Killing Them Softly,” but that movie feels like an arthouse hit more than an Oscar contender. David O. Russell’s quirky-looking “Silver Linings Playbook” may be too much of a conventional (yet quixotic) romantic and life-affirming dramedy to pull off an Oscar nom, but it feels like the picture TWC is going to want to focus on early and try and attempt to score good critical word-of-mouth buzz with. Plus, the cast is a great one and feels like it could earn an Oscar supporting turn or two. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Dash Mihok, Shea Whigham and Paul Herman, we think if there’s a TWC film in the Telluride bunch, “Silver Linings Playbook” is the safe bet. An alternative pick? "The Sapphires,” a picture that just like “The Artist,” TWC picked up just before Cannes and would love to try and create a similar winning narrative for.
It feels like just weeks ago when we were talking to Noah Baumbach about the 17th anniversary screening of his debut feature, “Kicking and Screaming.” When we asked what Baumbach was cooking up next, he immediately got cagey and said that another picture was being lined-up, but it wasn’t "While We're Young," which he had been developing and trying to get off the ground. Lo and behold, it’s been revealed that Baumbach shot an entire film in secret and it turns out it was written by and will star his paramour, Greta Gerwig. Lensed in crisp black and white, perhaps resembling a modern-day "Manhattan," Gerwig plays a dancer/struggling dance teacher in search of bliss in a picture said to explore friendship, class, ambition and failure. It’s already been rumored to be part of the Telluride line-up and this surprise picture feels like the perfect, left-of-center pick for a festival that likes to stand out with their own maverick tendencies.
We may be going out on a limb here, but Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to “In Bruges” is another pitch dark comedy that’s probably too dark to be an awards season contender, but one that will probably delight audiences and feels odd duck enough to be perfect for Telluride. Titled “Seven Psychopaths,” the picture centers on an alcoholic screenwriter (Colin Farrell) struggling to write a serial killer script who receives more real-life inspiration than he can handle when a dognapping scheme gone awry brings a galaxy of crazies to his doorstep. Needless to say, the cast -- Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sidibe -- is stellar. Also, playing during TIFF’s Midnight Madness section (not sure how entirely appropriate that is, but whatever), the picture only screens twice publically and once for press the entire festival in Toronto. Possibly one more time in Telluride will be enough.
Our last choice would be Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” but it opens up in the U.K. on September 7th. That either makes it the perfect or not-so-perfect choice for Telluride (either a sneak preview just before it hits theaters internationally, or it’s just too close to a public release). Plus it’s shot all on sound-stages, which makes it a pretty bold, possibly polarizing choice. But we’re second guessing ourselves with Brian De Palma’s “Passion,” a lurid, sexy thriller that would be CineMax on a Sunday in anyone else’s hands, but in De Palma’s hands...well, it’s his brand of titilating B-movie cinema. Starring Rachel McAdams and original “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”/“Prometheus” star Noomi Rapace, “Passion” is a remake of Alain Corneau’s thriller “Crime d’amour,” but De Palma is likely going to stir things up differently in this erotic thriller.
Other Choices and Possibilities: What seem like strong choices and possible locks are “Hyde Park on Hudson,” the Bill Murray vehicle with the star playing FDR. It’s the type of picture that TWC would take to Telluride, and so Focus Features is likely thinking the same. If you look at the Toronto and Venice schedule, one of the left-of-center choices seems to be "Orlando" director Sally Potter's new picture "Ginger and Rosa." Starring Elle Fanning and Alice Englert, the picture also has great supporting cast that includes Oliver Platt, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks and Annette Bening, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it turns up. The best of Cannes usually turn up as well so we’d expect to see things like Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and Jacques Audiard’s “Rust & Bone” at the very least. Nice to-haves would be Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina” and Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible.” While both seem like very feasible Telluride programmers, we don’t want to bank on them entirely, but here’s to hoping.
What pictures do you think will appear at Telluride this year and or which ones are you hoping will land in the elevated mountains of the beautiful landscape. Sound off below.