As my first Telluride experience, I must say it's easily one of the best and most relaxed film festivals in the world. Paparazzi is non-existent, media is limited and generally Telluride is much more focused on the quality of films rather than the number of celebrities who have promised to attend flashy red carpets, galas and other showy media appearances.
And while some of the media and Oscar critics who attended Telluride were underwhelmed by the line-up, complaining about the lack of showstopping premieres, surprises and Academy contenders, the festival lineup was, for us, top-notch. Cherry-picking the best of Cannes and other fests, as well us handing a couple of premieres, Telluride 39 turned out to be an excellent affair. At least for me.
Studio-wise, Sony Pictures Classics took over Telluride with Pablo Larrain's "No" (a film I missed, but that won lots of good word of mouth), the aforementioned "Rust & Bone," Rahmin's Bahrani's "At Any Price" and this year's Palme d'Or winner, Michael Haneke's "Amour." SPC generally runs Telluride, but that's because the festival usually caters to cinephiles and smart, intelligent filmgoers that expect the same from their movies. Mid-sized studios like Focus Features, The Weinstein Company, Magnolia and SPC are generally very at home here and a big mainstream picture is kind of rare (Ben Affleck's "Argo" seems like a good exception to the rule, but the film would have also fit well at any of the aforementioned studios). I was told that SPC will make a Best Picture run for Haneke's "Amour," the thinking being that every 60 year-old or so eligible Oscar voter (more than sixty five percent of the members) will go for this harrowing picture about the ignominy of growing old starring Jean-Louis Trintigant and Emmanuelle Rivera. And while powerful and striking in that unsparing Hanke manner, the picture could prove to be far too brutalizing for Oscar voters, so that bet remains to be seen, but as Foreign Best Picture contender for Austria it will be a force to be reckoned with.
Much less exciting was Focus Features' "Hyde Park On Hudson." While feel-good and pleasing for audiences, the picture had few teeth. Bill Murray could score a consolation Oscar nomination simply for his age and the fact that the Academy has largely ignored the actor for most of his career, but otherwise this feels like a Golden Globe picture all the way (those voters are much less discerning and seem to love gentle and inoffensive pictures). You can read out review here.
Michael Winterbottom delivered his 20th picture since 1995 this year. Titled "Everyday," and starring Shirley Henderson, the experimental picture was shot over five years, utilizing a family of four real-life siblings and focused on a single mom (Henderson) who has to look after her children while her husband (John Simm) is spending a five-year stint in prison. Ostensibly trying to capture the grueling grind and banality of daily life -- the struggles of trying to keep the family afloat while dad gets closer and closer to release -- the deliberately paced two-hour film isn't always the easiest picture to endure, but there's a moving emotional center dealing with the push and pull of separation that should speak to anyone who's ever missed, and often cursed, a loved one in the same breath. You can read our review here.
Over on the next page, you can find a rundown of our five highlights, and where they might go from here this fall.