One great thing about The Telluride Film Festival: it's all over in four days. So as America gets back to work and school, Tim Appelo wraps up the best of the fest:
Greatest Scene: The Mordor-lookalike Siberian mine country in Peter Weir’s The Way Back, seen from above, then into the steaming depths of the crumbling shafts, and deeper into the miners’ hearts.
Best of the Fest: And the Telluride Timmy Award goes to The King’s Speech – but shouldn’t Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush both get Best Actor nominations?
Runner Up: Errol Morris’s uproarious, subtly sad doc Tabloid.
Most Important: In terms of potential real-world impact, Oscar nominee Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job was the most important film at Telluride. It makes the Great Recession intelligible with sass and graphic verve, as clearly as This American Life’s famous radio documentary on the crisis. Viewers’ blood boiled, and it wasn’t the Telluride altitude. Better than any senator, Ferguson interrogates Wall Street’s crazed fundamentalists, provoking tempers and priceless admissions of self-delusion.
Biggest Controversy: Never Let Me Go viewers were split like Sunnis and Shia. Nobody thought Carey Mulligan (looking amazingly like Michelle Williams) and Keira Knightley weren’t heartrending as clones raised for organ donation in Kazuo Ishiguo’s and Alex Garland’s literary SF weepie, but some found director Mark Romanek’s style too inert (if broodingly beautiful). The key may be that audiences expect some plot revelation, and you pretty much know the donors’ fate from the get-go, and the love-triangle drama is mostly internal. It’s an existential meditation a la Spielberg’s AI, not a normal SF pic. Top quality, hard to market.
Best Hallucination: A three-way tie between Natalie Portman’s gory, Oscar-hungry, Repulsion-derivative tortures in Black Swan, the malevolently angelic man who watches dying Javier Bardem in Inarritu’s Biutiful, and James Franco trapped in a canyon in 127 Hours, flashing back to his gang stripping naked in a car, writhing, rolling windows down to let in a snowstorm, his angelic girlfriend mouthing “I Love You” through the billowing steam.
Biggest Sexy Bomb: According to a squealing young woman I met on a gondola, James Franco; according to me, Another Year’s Lesley Manville.
Best Line Overheard: A power broker at a sidewalk restaurant loudly broadcasting one end of a Bluetooth business meeting to passersby said: “He works hard. Ruffalo loves him. We’ve just gotta get more people to love him.”
Best Line in a Movie: Asked why it’s wrong for a medical researcher to tout a medicine he profits from, but not for a financial expert to do so, one Wall Street hypocrite monster in Inside Job sputters, “It’s certainly important to disclose the, um, the, um…I think that’s a little different than the cases we’re discussing here, because, um…um….”
Best Line About Telluride: At the Biutiful screening, Inarritu said, “It’s like Disneyland for adults. You can see great filmmakers, you can touch them. I’m just very depressed that I will have to return to reality today.”
[Photo of 127 Hours director Danny Boyle at Telluride courtesy of Leonard Maltin.]