"Rust And Bone"
After winning the Best Director prize at Cannes for 2009's stunning prison drama "A Prophet," French filmmaker Jacques Audiard incontestably proved he's one of Frances' best working filmmakers with "Rust & Bone." While the picture didn't pick up any accolades at Cannes, and is perhaps just a hair shy of the quality of 'Prophet,' it was easily one of our favorites from Telluride and a well-chosen pick from the Croisette. Featuring another excellent turn by Marion Cotillard, it's actually Mattias Schoenaerts ("Bullhead") who was the surprise stand-out of the picture, playing a emotionally unavailable, but kind-hearted boxer who befriends (and doesn't pity) a streetwise whale trainer who loses her legs in a devastating accident. While it;s POV shifts unconventionally (sometimes you're not really sure who's picture it is), in the end it works and more importantly, it's incredibly arresting, lasting and memorable on the psyche. Surely France will enter this one in the Foreign Best Picture Oscar frame and if it makes the final cut, it could be a commanding contender. You can read our Cannes review here.
Known for dysfunctional family comic dramas with mean-spirited characters, "Frances Ha" is a big reinvention for director Noah Baumbach. In fact, the auteur seems to cede some of his stamp over to his co-writer and star Greta Gerwig, as it feels more like a spontaneous mumblecore picture, but with an exuberant dash of whimsy and fancifulness not seen in either of their previous pictures. The alchemy between them has produced a seriously funny, sad and engaging dramedy and it's one of Baumbach's best efforts to date. Well-received at Telluride, the picture has no distributor yet, but that's likely going to change any minute now. Described as Woody Allen's "Manhattan," with a dash of the ferocious energy from "Breathless" and the witty female-centric "Girls" from writer/director Lena Dunham, that doesn't quite capture the fairy-tale like aspect of "Frances Ha," but it's close and those certainly aren't bad signifiers to be compared with. You can read our review here.
While Ben Affleck's suspenseful drama -- equal parts thriller, political potboiler and Hollywood send-up -- and its Oscar chances may be overstated, the picture is still terrifically made and well-told. Nominations may be in order across the board, but it's likely missing the emotional heft needed to take it to Best Picture winner. Still, there's tons to admire and love in it, from several terrific character actor performances, an inspired pace and momentum and a well-balanced tone that shifts effortlessly from sobering intensity to humor and back again. Read our review here.
"Stories We Tell"
Discussing Sarah Polley's five-year-in-the-making documentary "Stories We Tell" is difficult without giving away plot points. Suffice to say, Polley is having a banner year and 'Stories' may be the best film we saw at Telluride. A family documentary with lots of twists and secrets, "Stories We Tell," examines the nature of storytelling, truth, and even blends a few small elements of "fiction" throughout. It's a terrific documentary. With the excellent and complicated drama "Take This Waltz" in theaters earlier this year, Polley may have two films that end up in this writer's top 10 films of the year. But what's becoming clear is the actor-turned-director is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and fascinating filmmakers in North America. You can read our review from Venice here.
"Ginger & Rosa"
Perhaps Sally Potter's best picture since "Orlando" and her most accessible ever, the early '60s London-set "Ginger & Rosa" is a lovely and devastating look at how the activism, radicalism and ideologies of the sexual revolution and the '60s severely damaged the children who came out of it. Featuring an outstanding performance by Elle Fanning, the teenager is always engrossing, but "Ginger & Rosa" is finally the type of meaty role that she can fully shine in. It's probably too patient and introspective for the Oscars, but hopefully an SPC, Magnolia or Focus Features picks it up. It's a beautiful and yet unapologetically difficult picture that will be adored by the right audience. Read our review here.
That's it. Hopefully, we'll be in Telluride for TFF40. It's an excellent little festival that doesn't need the obvious big name titles to be a worthwhile destination for cinephiles and filmmakers alike. Next up is Toronto, followed by a little bit of Fantastic Fest, the New York Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival. Phew.