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The Telluride and Venice Film Festivals unleashed a ton of Oscar contenders

moonlight two
Deep in the mountains of Colorado, the Academy Award race began in earnest over the weekend. Coming hot off of the heels of a few debuts at the Venice Film Festival, a number of Oscar contenders hit the Telluride Film Festival in order to up their bonafides. Both Telluride and Venice seemed to be high on acclaimed titles and low on reviled ones, which is always a plus. The Toronto International Film Festival is next, with the New York Film Festival also coming very shortly. Both fests will perhaps reveal a few other players, so it’s the thick of the fall festival season. For today though, let’s look a bit at what Telluride and Venice put forward into the race.

Again, the films that wowed at Venice seemed to wow at Telluride. Those were mainly the one two punch of Arrival and La La Land. These two just blew people away. Denis Villenueve’s science fiction movie was feted for Amy Adams and her work, while Damien Chazelle’s musical had pundits falling over themselves to praise Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Expect to hear lots more about both in the weeks to come. Arrival may end up playing similar to Prisoners and Sicario with the Academy, but I suspect La La Land is going to be mana from heaven for them. Voters will be all about it, and apparently rightly so.

Among debuting titles at Telluride, Bleed for This, Moonlight, and Sully were some of the biggest deals. Bleed for This is Ben Younger’s boxing biopic/drama with Miles Teller in the lead role. Moonlight is Barry Jenkins’ coming of age tale, which was absolutely raved about. As for Sully, Clint Eastwood’s latest stars Tom Hanks and will be what I write about tomorrow, so stay tuned there for more on that one. Telluride definitely launched Moonlight though, which may be one of the biggest independent contenders of 2016. It might be a bit too small to really be in play for the win, but a handful of nominations could clearly be in the cards, depending on how the precursors go.

miles teller in corner

Back to Venice, we just had a very strong debut for Jackie, which could be one of the year’s big biopics if it gets picked up and released in 2016. Pablo Larraín directs Natalie Portman in the title role there. Mel Gibson also debuted Hacksaw Ridge, though that seems like slightly more of a fringe contender. A likelier player is Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, which represents another shot for Adams in Best Actress, especially if Arrival proves too much of a leap for Oscar. Look out for Jackie, depending on what happens with its release plans. Honestly, either this year or next, it seems like a threat.

So what fared the best? I think La La Land has emerged as the almost undisputed frontrunner, which matches my predictions so far (seems I know what I’m talking about, every so often). La La Land may be the one to beat in a bunch of categories, though Moonlight was probably the one to surprise most with how strongly it was reviewed, at Telluride at least. Venice seems to have a last minute love fest planned with Jackie, though it’s still early on that front. Either way, if you’r looking for a consensus player, it’s La La Land, which got raves at both fests.

Ryan Gosling Emma Stone

This leaves only a select few unseen contenders. NYFF will unveil Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk, along with things like The 13th, 20th Century Women, and The Lost City of Z. Then, there’s of course Silence, which is just hovering at the fringe of the race, waiting to see if it can crash the 2016 party or not. Lots will be decided over the next few weeks, with the next few months basically dictating who and what the nominees will be. It’s an exciting period, so hopefully you’ll stick with us as we move towards the precursors. Sit tight for much more on the emerging race…

Stay tuned for much more on the awards season as it evolves!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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