Telluride Film Festival Buzz Roundup As the fall film festival circuit begins to warm up award season, here’s a snapshot of what’s been talked about at Telluride:

The Way Back directed by Peter Weir.

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere is hearing that Weir’s survival drama isn’t similar to his previous wide releases, i.e. “Master and Commander,” rather the film should be platformed ala an arthouse release before the end of 2010 for an awards season run. “The Way Back” follows soldiers who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940 as they head out of Communist Russia. Per Kristopher Tapley, Ed Harris and Colin Farrell stand out the most. “This is quietly profound, epic, bold filmmaking at its very best,” adds the awards blogger. The film nearly didn’t nab a distributor until Newmarket picked it up. Many bloggers are confused: Why weren’t more distributors interested in this film?

127 Hours directed by Danny Boyle

Per Hollywood Elsewhere, the film “is a very possible Best Picture contender, and (lead actor) James Franco is looking like a close-to-locked Best Actor contender…maybe.” The festival was a key event which springboarded Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” into award season contention two years ago. Word on the street is that audiences were moved to tears. Film follows the real life account of a mountain climber’s conundrum when he is forced to cut his arm off, after getting stuck in a Utah canyon. Pete Hammond of Deadline exclaims “It’s a tour-de-force for Franco, virtually never off screen in the same way Spencer Tracy triumphed in the similarly spare ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ (1958). Franco’s performance could put him in contention for a best actor Oscar nod just as Tracy’s did over 50 years ago. It should be noted that Franco’s ‘farewell to arm’ scene is graphic and not for the squeamish.”

Never Let Me Go directed by Mark Romanek

With this top shelf of British femme talent – Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield –this period piece based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel seems destined for Oscar. The film follows English boarding students as they face harsh truths. Sean O’Connell’s summary yesterday pegged that critics were divided.

Kristopher Tapley of In Contention gripes:

There is a distance here, a cold sense of removal from what would otherwise be an extremely moving narrative. I wanted desperately to feel for the characters and their plight (I won’t hazard particulars for fear of spoilers). But I felt nothing…at all. I wanted them to rage against their circumstances and show an ounce of the spirit they in one instance even set out to prove they have, but there was, again, nothing.

Tapley, who gave the film two and half stars believes the film’s best bet in the Oscar race is Rachel Portman’s gorgeous musical score.

The King’s Speech directed by Tom Hooper

The Weinstein Company might have been strapped for cash in the past, but the brothers still know something about Oscars and what critics love. Jeffrey Wells heralds “’The King’s Speech’ is an audience-pleaser and an awards contender. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are looking at possible acting award noms.”

Apparently, festival audiences gave Hooper, Firth and Rush a standing ovation after the screening.

Hammond exclaims, “This stylishly entertaining, brilliantly acted period piece about the stuttering problems of England’s King George VI (father of the current Queen Elizabeth) and his relationship with a speech therapist is, to put it simply, catnip for Academy voters. No doubt Harvey’s already got one of the ten Best Picture slots locked up for this.”

Tapley awards the film three and a half stars.

Tabloid directed by Errol Morris

Many believe that Errol Morris has a shot at the best documentary slot in this tale about beauty/tabloid queen Joyce McKinney who imprisoned her Mormon sweetheart in an English countryside cottage for days and raped him in 1977. Tapley gives the film three and half stars. It is the first time that Morris has premiered a film at Telluride.

Black Swan directed by Darren Aronofsky

This ballet thriller made its debut at the Venice Film Festival. The overall consensus is that Natalie Portman is a shoe-in for best actress.

Hammond assesses:

So was the wait worth it (for the film)? This crowd seemed to think so although, unlike Venice, it didn’t get a standing ovation (they may have been too stunned to stand). Buzz afterward was strong for Aronofsky’s macabre vision of an artistically possessed ballerina pushing herself beyond the limits, and particularly for Portman’s dazzling tour de force that makes her an instant leading contender in every Best Actress race. During final credits, one shaken woman was overheard saying she was going outside to “smoke about 5 cigarettes”.


Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight, Newmarket, Weinstein Co.

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