Monday, September 15, 2014

Combination Ratings The Peeps and The Pros/Toronto and 2015/First Feinberg Forecast/Assessng the Post Fall Festival Landscape: Deadline; The Hollywood Reporter; Screen Talk/Imitation Wins Toronto/Eat, Drink, Film Reports on TFF #41

Good Monday all.  I hope everyone had a stellar weekend.

COMBINATION RATINGS: THE PEEPS AND THE PROS







I'm closing out the posts for this year's ratings of films that played at Telluride with the annual combining of the two polls.   I've combined the ratings averages from the People and the Professionals' poll to arrive at the following list.  13 films had enough viewers/raters from both groups to make it to the combined ratings.  They are listed below followed by their combined rating, the People's rated position and then the Professionals rated position:

1) Birdman                        (9.18)  (2)  (1)
2) Foxcatcher                    (8.83)  (4)  (2)
3) The Imitation Game     (8.79)  (1)  (7)
4) Wild Tales                    (8.43)  (3)  (4)
5) '71                                 (8.15)  (6)  (3)
6) Mommy                        (7.42)  (8)  (8)
7) Red Army                     (7.30)  (7)  (11)
8) Two Days, One Night   (7.21)  (13)  (9)
9) Mr. Turner                     (7.10)  (14)  (6)
10) Wild                             (6.71)  (8)  (13)
11) Rosewater                    (6.52)  (12)  (14)
12) The Homesman           (6.38)  (16)  (11)
13) Madame Bovary          (6.18)  (15)  (12)


TORONTO AND 2015

The Hollywood Reporter says that Toronto will continue this year's policy regarding World Premieres and scheduling the first four days of their festival.  That's what the bulk of the article says.

The last sentence is the devious one though as both TIFF head man Piers Handling and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey "said it was too early to decide whether the Telluride premiere policy will be tweaked, but they will consult the industry before next year's event".  That sounds to me like some wiggle room after an article that mostly goes on about how they're sticking with the policy and how well it worked.  Here's the full story:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/toronto-festival-head-holding-firm-732712


FIRST FEINBERG FORECAST



The Hollywood Reporter's Oscar expert Scott Feinberg has his first "Feinberg Forecast" posted.  His look at a number of the "major" Oscar categories was posted last night.  Of films that played the Telluride Fest a couple of weeks ago, Feinberg predicts the following:

"Birdman" and "The Imitation Game" and "Foxcatcher" would lead the way with four nominations apiece:

"The Imitation Game" : Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay

"Birdman": Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay

I personally think that Morten Tyldum is going to get into the Director's race for "Imitation" and that Edward Norton and Emma Stone get into the Supporting races for "Birdman".

"Foxcatcher": Best Picture, Actor and Supporting Actor.  That's Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo respectively.

I personally think that Morten Tyldum is going to get into the Director's race for "Imitation" and that Edward Norton and Emma Stone get into the Supporting races for "Birdman".  I'd add Bennett Miller for Direction for "Foxcatcher".

Feinberg forecasts two nominations for "Wild".  One for Reese Witherspoon in the Lead category and the other for Laura Dern as Supporting.

He also has Hilary Swank as Best Actress nominee for "The Homesman".

Among documentaries, Feinberg says: "Keep on Keepin' On" and "Red Army" get nods and for Foreign Language film: "Wild Tales" and "Two Days, One Night".  He also says TFF #40 hit "Blue is the Warmest Color" will get a nod as well.

That total for TFF #41 from these categories would be 19 nominations.

The complete Feinberg Forecast is here:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/feinberg-forecast-awards-landscape-telluride-715823


ASSESSING THE POST FALL FESTIVAL LANDSCAPE:




DEADLINE

Pete Hammond at Deadline.com takes a look at the aftermath of Telluride, Toronto and Venice and draws some conclusions.  Hammond specifically discusses Telluride features: "Foxcatcher", "Birdman", "The Imitation Game" , "Mr. Turner", "Wild",  "Rosewater" and "99 Homes".

Here's the link to that post:

http://deadline.com/2014/09/2014-fall-festival-verdict-toronto-film-festival-and-2014-0scar-race-833893/


THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter posted an article called "Critic's Roundup: The Ten Best Films from Major Fall Festivals (So Far).  Of the ten, Telluride lands three films on the list: "Birdman" (also listed as Venice), "Seymour: An Introduction" and "Wild" (both listed with Toronto as well).  It's worth noting that films that played Cannes are NOT included on their "Fall Fest" list so no "Foxcatcher" or "Mr. Turner".  Missing: "The Imitation Game".

The complete post here:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/best-films-at-toronto-venice-731526


SCREEN TALK


And I've also linked to the latest installment of Screen Talk, podcast from Anne Thompson and Eric Kohn who also provide their insight in the immediate aftermath of the conclusion of all three major fests that have just concluded.

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/screen-talk-what-happened-at-toronto-hits-misses-oscar-contenders-20140912


TORONTO AUDIENCE AWARD GOES TO "THE IMITATION GAME"



Telluride player, Morten Tyldum's "The Imitation Game" won The Toronto International Film Festival's Grolsch Audience Award yesterday.  The film follows in the footsteps of such recent past winners as "Slumdog Millionaire", ":The King's Speech" and "12 Years a Slave" that played T-ride and then followed up with the audience award at TIFF (and also went on to win the Oscar Best Picture).  Does this make "The Imitation Game" your Oscar front runner?  Maybe not, but it doefinitely continues the great momentum that started two weeks ago in the Rockies.

Here's coverage of yesterday's Toronto announcement:

http://www.thewrap.com/the-imitation-game-wins-toronto-audience-award/


http://deadline.com/2014/09/toronto-film-festival-2014-awards-audience-award-winner-834100/


http://variety.com/2014/film/news/toronto-imitation-game-wins-festivals-peoples-choice-award-1201305517/

http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-2014-toronto-international-film-festival-winners-as-they-come-in-20140914

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/the-imitation-game-wins-tiff-peoples-choice-award-watch-40-minute-press-conference-for-the-film-20140914

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/toronto-imitation-game-audience-award-732710

http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/the-imitation-game-with-benedict-cumberbatch-wins-torontos-peoples-choice-award


EAT, DRINK, FILM TFF #41 COVERAGE


TFF #41 Class Photo (Getty Images)


We have mentioned in this space previously that TFF Senior Program Curator Gary Meyer has been at work at Eat, Drink, Film...a relatively new website devoted to...well... the three activities that comprise the websites name.  Eat, Drink, Film had its report about TFF #41 posted recently, complete with cool photos from this year's "class photo" session from Getty Images.  It's worth a look.  Here:

http://eatdrinkfilms.com/2014/09/11/the-41st-telluride-film-festival-into-the-dark-and-the-light/


More on Thursday...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The People's Telluride/Scenes from TFF #41/Catching Foxcatcher

Good Thursday to all...

THE PEOPLE'S TELLURIDE



After about ten days of polling and a couple pf dozen responses, here are this year's results of The People's Telluride.  I asked readers of this space to rate the films they saw at TFF #41 on a 0-5 scale with "0" being "abysmal" and "5" being a "Masterpiece".  I then collated that information and divided by the number of respondents for each film.  To make the list, a film had to have ratings from at least 25% of the respondents.  That's the methodology.  Here are the results with the average rating in parenthesis:

1) The Imitation Game (4.73)
2) Birdman (4.46)
3) Wild Tales (4.23)
4) Foxcatcher (4.20)
5) Merchants of Doubt (4.04)
6) '71 (3.90)
7) Red Army (3.63)
8) Wild (Tie 3.50)
8) Escobar: Paradise Lost (Tie 3.50)
8) Mommy (Tie 3.50)
11) 99 Homes (3.47)
12) Rosewater (3.46)
13) Two Days, One Night (3.31)
14) Mr. Turner (3.00)
15) Madame Bovary (2.88)
16) The Homesman (2.58)

Notes:

Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Look of Silence" had a 4.9 rating but not enough respondents to surpass the 25% threshold.

"Merchants of Doubt", "99 Homes" and "Escobar: Paradise Lost" all were rated by enough of "The People" to make it onto today's list but were not seen by enough of "The Professionals" to make that list which I posted Tuesday.

"Leviathan" was the one film on "The Professionals" list that wasn't seen by enough of "The People" to make today's list.

The biggest disconnect this year between "Pros" and "Peeps"; "Mr. Turner".  The pros rated it at 4.10 which put it at #6 on that list.  The Peeps rated it at 3.00 which made it 14th out of the 16 films on today's list.

There was also a fairly astounding separation between the choice of the Peeps #1-"The Imitation Game" and The Pros which, though rated by them at an over "4" average, ended up at #7 on The Pros listing.

And, yeow...the Peeps did not care for Tommy Lee Jones "The Homesman".

Monday, I'll have the combination listing from all the Pros and Peeps...13 films make that list.


SCENES FROM TFF #41



The official Telluride Film Festival website has posted four filmed tidbits of conversations/interviews from this year's fests.  I have linked to them here:

Reese Witherspoon on "Wild"

http://telluridefilmfestival.org/showroom/show/144

Jon Stewart Q & A after the initial "Rosewater" screening:

http://telluridefilmfestival.org/showroom/show/142


Francis Ford Coppola on "Apocalypse Now" Tribute:

http://telluridefilmfestival.org/showroom/show/143


Hilary Swank on "The Homesman" during her tribute:

http://telluridefilmfestival.org/showroom/show/145


CATCHING FOXCATCHER


"Foxcatcher" Teaser trailer via YouTube



Mark Ruffalo kindly tweeted a link to an in depth story that Vulture.com did about the genesis and development of Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher".  The Mark Harris piece was posted originally on Aug. 24th but provides such detail that I have linked it here:


http://www.vulture.com/2014/08/the-making-of-foxcatcher.html

"Foxcatcher" opens nationally on Nov. 14th.


Coming next week to MTFB/FAC:  The Combination Ratings of The Peeps and The Pros and the first look at major Oscar categories as The Film Awards Clearinghouse returns to this blog!


Follow me on Twitter @Gort2.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Special Edition: The Professionals' Telluride/Telluride and Toronto: Some Assessments

Good Tuesday Everyone,

Today's post is a special edition of Michael's Telluride Film Blog as after today I'll revert back to the more common practice of posting twice a week.  MTFB's regular posting schedule for nine months of the year (Mid-September to mid-June) is on Mondays and Thursdays.  It's tome to go back to that schedule as we make the turn from our post TFF #41 experience into the film awards season.  As has become the norm, this space will now set out to track the fortunes of Telluride films through the maze leading up to and including the Oscars (announced on Feb. 22, 2015).  After all, the second half of what I call this thing is "The Film Awards Clearinghouse".

As always, should circumstances warrant, I will post with more frequency than the twice-a-week schedule.

I hope everyone enjoyed this year's coverage of the speculation leading up to the 41st Telluride Film Festival.

SPECIAL EDITION: THE PROFESSIONALS' TELLURIDE




Alejandro Inarritu’s “Birdman” leads the 2014 “Professionals” ratings from Telluride. 


The Professionals:

Alex Billington/FirstShowing
Greg Ellwood/HitFix
Tomris Laffley/Film Journal
Eugene Novikov/Film Blather
John Rhodes/Screencraft
Sasha Stone/Awards Daily
Kristopher Tapley/In Contention
Anne Thompson/Thompson on Hollywood/IndieWire

I asked the Porfessionals to rate the films they saw at Telluride (or that had played both at Cannes and Telluride) on a 0-5 scale with “0” being abysmal and “5” being a masterpiece.  I arbitrarily decided to include films that had been seen by at least a third of the Professionals.  I have listed the films in order of their average rating and included that average in parenthesis). Here’s their collective wisdom:

    1)      Birdman (4.72)
    2)      Foxcatcher (4.63)
          3)      ’71 (4.25)
          4)      Wild Tales (4.20)
          5)      Leviathan (4.17)
          6)      Mr. Turner (4.10) 
          7)      The Imitation Game (4.06)
          8)      Mommy (3.92)
          9)      Two Days, One Night (3.90)
         10)    The Homesman (3.80)
         11)    Red Army (3.67)
         12)    Madame Bovary (3.30)
         13)    Wild (3.21)
         14)    Rosewater (3.06)


          And so "Birdman" emerges as the preferred film among the professionals.  On Thursday, I'll publish the People's Telluride results.  That means you still have time to send me your ratings to be included.  Rate the films you saw on a 0-5 scale and send them to me via Twitter (@Gort2), email: michael_speech@hotmail.com or as a comment to this blog.

       I can tell you that there will be some differences between The Pros and The People.

       Next Monday I'll also publish the combined ratings in which I'll use all the ratings from the professionals and us regular Joes.


        TELLURIDE AND TORONTO: SOME ASSESSMENTS

         


      Now that the first "World Premiere" weekend of Toronto is in the books, a number of media outlets have begun weighing in with their view about the efficacy of Toronto's 2014 edict concerning films that played Telluride first.  I have included links to three of those pieces here from The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and The Chicago Tribune.

      Tatiana Siegel writing in THR writes, "there's little doubt that Toronto Film Festival director Cameron Bailey's anti-Telluride policy is having a chilling effect on the Oscar prowess of the first days"

           http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/toronto-opening-weekend-is-missing-730631

           http://variety.com/2014/film/news/still-waiting-for-the-wow-factor-at-toronto-1201299490/

           http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-toronto-quality-20140908-column.html
        

           
           More on Thursday!




    

Monday, September 8, 2014

Apologies: The Professionals Telluride/Random Thoughts a Week Removed/Film Comment Talks Telluride

Welcome to Monday...

APOLOGIES: THE PROFESSIONALS TELLURIDE



I had intended to post the results of the ratings from the professionals who have been kind enough to rate the films they saw last weekend at TFF #41 but last minute additions and alterations have pushed that to tomorrow.  Sorry.  Think of it as building suspense.

I'm still planning The People's Telluride release on Thursday so you peeps still have a couple of days to send in your ratings on a 0-5 scale to me via Twitter (@Gort2) email: michael_speech@hotmail.com or as a comment to this blog.

RANDOM THOUGHTS A WEEK REMOVED



Well, I've had a little time to process TFF #41 so I thought I might tap out a few things that have been rattling around my brain over the last week or so.

THE PEOPLE

I have made some great friends as a result of the Telluride Film Fest over these past eight years of attending and six years of writing about it.  Especially worthy of mention are Christopher Schiller, who was a great guy to stand in line with, a counselor and conversationalist.  Also, it was terrific to catch up, briefly, with Jack Werzberger and Patrick Pringle.  Great guys who love film and TFF.

Susan and Bunee Tomlinson, fellow Oklahomans, who make the trek each year to the San Juans and are remarkably kind.  Look out world, Bunee's gonna run the film world someday.

Alexandra and Mark Helfrich, who, I believe we met in line in 2007.  Dinner companions, fellow film fans and hard core Telluride fest-goers.  They have become more than acquaintances over these past few years.  I value the brief moments we get to share.

I also am humbled and gratified that I am treated so warmly by the members of the real press.  Going out of their way to show kindness and share insight: Sasha Stone/Awards Daily, Kristopher Tapley/HitFix-InContention, Alex Billington/FirstShowing and Tomris Laffley/Film Journal.  Mr. Schiller also falls into this camp.

And then there was the nearly constant parade of people that I ran into that read the blog.  It seemed like I was constantly sitting next to or standing in line with someone who reads the thing.  To all of you and those of you who have taken time to pass along an "I love your blog" via email, Twitter or other social media...thanks so very much. You're too kind.

And I would be seriously remiss if I didn't mention TFF's VP of Publicity Shannon Mitchell and Co-director Julie Huntsinger.  These two women have persistently shown me nothing but respect, kindness and warmth.  I thank them sincerely.

And, of course, Larry and Mitzi Mallard who make the whole thing possible.  They were my students back in the 80's and have grown into great friends and have the wife and I the most ridiculously wonderful gift in the form of passes to attend the festival and a ludicrously beautiful place to stay.  "Thank you" is inadequate expression of gratitude.



THE FILMS

You know how it is sometimes.  You come out of theater in T-ride and you're giddy and then, after some reflection, a week later, you reassess.  Sometimes something that you thought was great is really just good and sometimes what you thought wasn't much, resonates louder and louder on reflection.  Last year, "Llewyn Davis"...which I thought was great from the get-go...got better on reflection.    So, looking back after a bit of time always seems like a good idea.  That said...



A week out and I still feel strongly about what the three films I saw that seem to be the standouts of TFF #41.  Alejandro Inarritu's "Birdman" (which did NOT win the Venice Golden Lion over the weekend and many were surprised by that) which I called a masterpiece in the heat of the immediate post film reaction.  Now that I've mulled it for a week...still a masterpiece.  It's Inarritu's best film and a career defining performance from Michael Keaton.  I don't know if Keaton will win a Best Oscar next spring, only that he should and, in a year that already has a surfeit of phenomenal work in the Lead Actor category (and more to come raves for Eddie Redmayne for "The Theory of Everything" and Bill Murray for "St. Vincent" are coming out of Toronto from this weekend's screenings like Jack O'Connell in "Unbroken" and I suspect Matthew McConnaughey will be back in the conversation after we finally see Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar"), I cannot imagine that anyone is going to be as good as Keaton in this film.

Make no mistake...most years I would be all about Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in "Foxcatcher" and Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Imitation Game".  They're fantastic performances and were I member of the Academy and having to choose, it'd be difficult...but Keaton's performance makes it easy.  At least for me.



Speaking of "Foxcatcher" and :The Imitation Game", I still feel the same about them as I did a week ago.  Greta work, great scripting and direction.  Excellent acting from two very, very different films.

"Wild Tales" seems to have gotten the biggest buzz boost from the fest.  It's the kind of thing that has happened before at Telluride, I think.  Audiences responding to a well made comic film that provides big laughs made bigger as a relief/release from some of the other more somber, challenging fare at the fest.  I enjoyed "Wild Tales" but I don't think it's in the same ball park that the above three films are.

Though I didn't see it, I imagine that people that saw "The Look of Silence" were probably looking for that.  To a lesser extent, I think the same might be true for Ethan Hawke's documentary "Seymour: An Introduction" which was warmly embraced by everyone I talked to that saw it last weekend.  As a matter of fact, Jack Werzberger (mentioned above) said it was one of his five best TFF experiences ever.  Strong praise indeed.  Also, shout out to Mr. Hawke whom my parents met and, as is so often the case at Telluride, was terrifically pleasant and kind.


Director, actor and genuinely nice guy Ethan Hawke with my parents Patricia and Calvin Patterson.


As I mentioned above also, sometimes a film grows with some distance.  "Red Army", Gabe Polsky's documentary about the Cold War era Soviet hockey team has been that film over the last week for me.  Great work.  It's funny, engaging, dramatic and even emotional.

Noble misses: "Wild" and "The Homesman".  Both films have good performances at their core (Witherspoon/Wild Dern/Wild and Swank/Homesman) and are beautiful to look at but are lacking some structural elements that left this viewer unclear as to motivation.  Though that ambiguity is sometimes a valid choice, in these two instances I felt like I needed to understand the leads at a deeper level to make sense of the way each film played out.



Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" also fell into this same category for me for different reasons, really.  Stewart explained more than once over the course of last weekend that one of the things that he was after was a film that expressed evil and torture and terror as being something that could be subtle.  He wants us to realize that those things don't have to take the shape of a "Midnight Express" level of abuse to be just as terrifying and maybe even more so because of its subtlety.  OK.  I'm not sure that makes for a compelling film.  It didn't for me.

I also had issues with what was going on with the leads flashbacks/imaginings of conversations with his father who, it seems to me, would not have been pleased with the choices that Gael Garcia Bernal's character makes.  The film devotes a good amount of time to Dad making much of his own choices when faced with similar circumstances in his own life but when Bernal's character charts a different course toward the films end, Ghost Dad seems all about condoning those choices. Ummm...what'd I miss?

GRAND MOMENTS:

Having said all that about Jon Stewart's film, I was thrilled to meet him and shake his hand.  Call me shallow.

I was also pretty happy to shake Alejandro Inarritu's hand and congratulate him after the first North American screening of "Birdman".

Realizing as I was talking to some fellow journalist types that I was standing two feet from Reese Witherspoon.

The sheer breath taking thrill that it was to watch "Birdman" happen in front of my eyes and then see Inarritu talk about it afterwards.

It was also ridiculously grand to hear/see Bennett Miller, Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Hilary Swank discuss their films moments after seeing them.

Finally got to meet Screencraft's John Rhodes face to face after a couple of years of communicating facelessly via email and the Twitterverse.  Had a fantastic breakfast with him and his buddy Trevor Kress of Corbis Entertainment on Monday morning just before we pulled out to Telluride.


Dinner Thursday night with the Helfrichs.



REGRETS, I HAD A FEW...

....and they're silly...but...

Tommy Lee Jones appears to have been in town for about three hours.  Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like he was in T-ride to do the singularly scheduled Q & A with Leonard Maltin after the Sunday afternoon screening of "The Homesman".  I understand that Mr. Jones is notoriously unwilling to suffer the indignities of fame and that the Q & A demonstrated that and part of me wishes I could have been there but I had a prior engagement that I really couldn't move around,  Still, I would have risked a withering glance to have put my eyeballs on him and even more to have actually been able to greet the man.

I hate that Benedict Cumberbatch didn't make it despite the program assurance that he would be in attendance.  I think the young man is a terrific actor and gives an incredible performance in "Imitation Game".  It would have fun to tell him that in person.

I was thrilled to get to hear Steve Carell and Channing Tatum talk about "Foxcatcher"  My disappoint...kept thinking I'd run into them...never happened.  Apparently I just missed Carell at the Patron's brunch.  Curse my luck.

Missed Oprah... who was around at least early in the weekend for "Wild".

I saw Megan Ellison at the Fox Searchlight party Saturday (and again Fox Searchlight...thanks so much for the invitation..was cool.) but didn't work up the gumption to walk over and thank her for the producing work she has done over that last five years or so ("True Grit" -my favorite film of 2010, "The Master", "Zero Dark Thirty" "American Hustle" and this year's "Foxcatcher" among others. She's part of the list of producers for Inarritu's next project as well. "The Revenant"...TFF #42?...if it's done, I'll bet it shows...)

I also missed Quincey Jones at the FS party.  I think I was already out the door when Q showed up. Man, I hate to have missed a legend.

I also regret not having had a second conversation with Jon Stewart who was leaving the FS party as I was coming in.  That's probably for the best, but, again, a week removed...seems like a missed opportunity.


FILM COMMENT TALKS TELLURIDE

Eugene Hernandez has posted a Telluride re-cap for Film Comment.  Here's the link to that:

http://filmcomment.com/entry/festival-telluride





Saturday, September 6, 2014

Filmmaker Mag Looks at TFF #41/Best of the Week: What I Saw; Video: Rosewater and Birdman; Dance Called Oscar; Rudderless Music/THE PEOPLE'S TELLURIDE

FILMMAKER MAG LOOKS AT TFF #41

http://filmmakermagazine.com/87475-wanting-to-like-everything-the-telluride-film-festival/


BEST OF THE WEEK

WHAT I SAW IN TELLURIDE



Ten films over essentially two and a half days.  I would have liked to have gotten in about 4 more than I saw. Nevertheless, I saw some really fine film work at the top of the list.  Here's what I saw and how I rated them...

1) Birdman 5/5
2) The Imitation Game 4.5/5
3) Foxcatcher 4.5/5
4) Wild Tales 3.5/5
5) Red Army 3.5/5
6) The Homesman 3.5/5
7) Wild 3/5
8) Magician 3/5 (adjusted)
9) Rosewater 3/5
10) Two Days, One Night 2.5/5

A comment or two...



Alejandro Inarritu's "Birdman" is a masterpiece and his best film...and I'm a fan of his other films. I think it's a tremendous piece of work.  First and foremost is Michael Keaton's turn as Riggan Thomson...the down and out former movie superstar who made his name as the titular "Birdman".  It is a fearless performance on a ridiculously high, ridiculously thin high wire and he is riveting.  It's one of the great performances on film I think I have ever seen.  Keaton must win Oscar...it is a oral imperative.  To deny this performance would be a crime.  And Keaton isn't alone.  Ed Norton and Emma Stone shine as well.  Both should earn nominations and Norton may very well win the Supporting Actor trophy.

The technical work is also dizzying.  The technique to create a two hour plus film that seems to be nearly one long, non-stop take is an amazing feat that is a marvel to behold.

Admittedly, there will be some who don't care for the film.  It's experimental, existential and eccentric but that's also makes it so special.

I was in a conversation Saturday night, right after seeing the film, with one of the industry's smartest people about the Oscar season and we both agreed that it's a tough sell for Best Picture but the more I've thought about it, the more I wonder about that assessment.  It's hard to deny the virtuosity here and the actors, which make up the largest block in The Academy, I think are going to eat it up.  It's an actor's film.  Further, I think it's going to end up with the most nominations when they are announced next January.  So maybe...maybe...

Ultimately I have a hard time believing that I'm going to see a better film between now and Dec. 31st.




Morten Tyldum...better get used to hearing that name.  He's the director of "The Imitation Game", the Alan Turing biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch which came as close to being the consensus hit of last week's festival as I could find and deservedly.  I loved it too...not as much as "Birdman" but still...

Cumberbatch will be a nominee for this film as will, I expect, Mr. Tyldum and the screenwriter Graham Moore.  That's enough to virtually guarantee a Best Picture nomination.  There's some sentiment that Kiera Nightley might be in the running for a Supporting Actress nomination.  Noms for Costumes and Art Direction are real possibilities and I could also see an editing nomination.

Some have compared this to "The King's Speech", "Argo" and "The Artist".  Not thematically at all, but as a very well made film that Telluride audiences responded enthusiastically to.  For some that is damning praise...not to me.  Say what you will, about those three films (two of which were from The Weinstein Company, as is "Imitation Game") but they were all outstanding films in their own right.

All that said...it's a damn good film and Cumberbatch in almost any other year might be the Oscar favorite...



Finally, in terms of the films I really dug at TFF #41, there's Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher".  It's fantastic but won't be everyone's cup of tea.  "Too cold" is how I've heard it described and that makes some sense.  But that "cool" aesthetic is absolutely essential to the central performance/character.  Steve Carell is... well, some would say a revelation as deeply crazy buhzillionaire Jon duPont in this true story.  I wouldn't say "revelatory" because I've thought he was going to be great in the role since I first heard about it.  And if you read this blog with regularity, you know that I've been tracking this film for...well..ever.  You might recall that I (and others) went through last season thinking we might see it in 2013.  Nope.  But it was worth the wait.

So, Carell is excellent as are Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum as two brothers trying to conquer the Olympics circa 1988.  Bennett Miller's direction is sure handed, confident.  He's a great talent.  It's too bad that he takes as much time as he does because that means we'll see fewer films from him over the next couple of decades.  But if his body of work continues to mirror "Capote", "Moneyball" and now "Foxcatcher"...it'll be worth the wait.


My expectation is that we'll see two acting nominations, Carell and either Ruffalo or Tatum...I can't see all three being nominated, though they probably should be...both Ruffalo and Tatum deserve the nod.  The Ruffalo love is probably not a surprise.  Tatum in that convo might raise an eyebrow until you see the performance.  Again, I'm not surprised.  I thought he'd be great too.

A Best Picture nomination is possible since we're likely to have nine films make the grade again this year.  A Best Direction nom for Miller is a tougher proposition though.  I'd vote for him but, you know, I'm not an Academy member.

A script nod for Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye is more likely.  Maybe editing as well.

That's the stuff I really liked of the ten films that I got to.


VIDEO FROM "ROSEWATER" AND "BIRDMAN"



Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood posted exclusive video of interviews with the "Rosewater" and "Birdman" folks and I'm passing  along those links to you:

"Rosewater":

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/watch-rosewaters-jon-stewart-and-gael-garcia-bernal-talk-purposeful-inauthenticity-exclusive-20140903


"Birdman":

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/watch-alejandro-gonzalez-inarritu-talks-birdman-at-telluride-exclusive-video-20140901


L.A. WEEKLY'S OSCAR TAKE FROM TFF #41



L.A. Weekly posted their assessment of Oscar potentials from this year's Telluride crop yesterday.  Weirdly, no mention of "Birdman".  Check it here:

http://www.laweekly.com/publicspectacle/2014/09/03/wild-foxcatcher-rosewater-and-more-hunting-for-hits-at-telluride-2014



AND NOW THE DANCE CALLED OSCAR



Regular readers of this space know that now that the festival has concluded that two things are about to happen.  I'll go back to the regular twice a week publication schedule (Mondays and Thursdays) unless something special warrants a special post AND the focus of the blog shifts from the films that we puzzled about for six months to the actual films that played and their prospects for the upcoming awards season.

I know that plenty of TFFers couldn't care less about this or that Oscar prospect.  I completely understand that but I do enjoy the awards season and how those films that showed at The SHOW will fare.  As such, I have included a number of pieces of the "at first blush" variety from a number of the best Oscar/Awards thinkers and writers in the business.  Enjoy!

Sasha Stone/Awards Daily:

http://www.awardsdaily.com/blog/2014/09/the-state-of-the-race-how-telluride-shapes-the-oscars/

Kristopher Tapley/HitFix

http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/off-the-carpet-venice-and-telluride-signal-the-starting-gun

Anne Thompson/Thompson on Hollywood and Eric Kohn/IndieWire (Screen Talk podcast)

http://www.indiewire.com/article/listen-how-has-telluride-changed-the-oscar-race-anne-thompson-and-eric-kohn-discuss-on-indiewires-podcast-20140901

Tim Gray/Variety:

http://variety.com/2014/film/news/telluride-awards-wrap-no-slam-dunk-but-lots-of-goodies-1201294687/

Joey Magidson/Hollywood News

http://www.hollywoodnews.com/2014/09/01/the-telluride-film-festival-launched-some-oscar-contenders/


Gathered for this year's "Class Photo" Hilary Swank, Jon Stewart, and Channing Tatum (Getty Images)


I have continued to gather reactions to this year's group of films from critics and those that roam the awards season landscape.  Included in a couple of the wrap-ups and reviews are kind mentions of MTFB...to Alex Billington/First Showing and Sasha Stone/Awards Daily...thanks!  They're two of the best in the business and are always encouraging about this small enterprise.  So we'll start there:

Sasha reviews the weekend here:

http://www.awardsdaily.com/blog/2014/09/telluride-diary-glory-in-the-hour/

Alex also provides a summary of the four days here:

http://www.firstshowing.net/2014/telluride-2014-cinema-thrives-in-colorado/

Anne Thompson offers her take with some really interesting background on the Toronto issue:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/telluride-wrap-the-little-festival-that-could-20140903

Variety's Justin Chang and Scott Foundas filed this dialogue that looks at the weekend that was:

http://variety.com/2014/film/festivals/telluride-from-birdman-to-mommy-festival-soars-above-the-fray-1201295912/

And from a number of places, the continued assesment of Oscar:

Gold Derby:

http://www.goldderby.com/news/7189/oscars-birdman-foxcatcher-telluride-boyhood-unbroken-entertainment-13579086-story.html

The Wrap:

http://www.thewrap.com/reese-witherspoons-odd-f-bombs-michael-keaton-mania-weird-tales-show-stealing-7-takeaways-from-telluride-film-fest/

Cinema Blend:

http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Benedict-Cumberbatch-Imitation-Game-Win-Telluride-Battle-Oscar-Buzz-67015.html


MUSIC FROM RUDDERLESS



My countdown to the release of William H. Macy's set in Oklahoma Sundance drama "Rudderless" continues.  It's set to release on Oct. 17th.  News came yesterday that music form the film...and it's cool music...will be available within the month.  One of the things that was said after the Oklahoma City screening of the film last June was how good the music was.  Now you'll soon have a chance to hear for yourself.  The Playlist posted the release story online and here's the link to that:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/exclusive-listening-preview-songs-from-the-rudderless-soundtrack-performed-by-selena-gomez-eef-barzelay-ben-kweller-more-20140904


THE PEOPLE'S TELLURIDE



The ratings from readers have begun to come in and this is your reminder to be a part of the annual rating compilation of  the films you saw at Telluride.  Please drop me a line with your rating of each of the films you saw using a 0-5 scale with "0" for the atrocious and "5" for the sublime.  Send them to me via Twitter @Gort2 or email:  michael_speech@hotmail.com or as a comment to this post.  I'll collate them and publish the results in the next week or so.  It's fun!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The People's and The Professionals Telluride/Stewart and Rosewater/Telluride Wrap Up/Oscars: Feinberg and Tapley/Music from Rudderless

Welcome to Friday everyone...

THE PEOPLE'S AND THE PROFESSIONALS' TELLURIDE



We're coming down to the last few days that I will still be collecting film ratings from last week's 41st edition of the Telluride Film Festival.  I expect that I will continue to accept ratings through the weekend.  My hope is to post The Professionals ratings on Monday and The People's on Thursday next week with a combination set of ratings to follow.  That's the plan, at least for the moment.  So get those ratings to me ASAP.  Send to via Twitter (@Gort2), email: michael_speech@hotmail.com or as a comment to this blog.  HURRY...time is running out.

STEWART AND ROSEWATER


(Getty Images)


Although I wasn't all that enamored of the film, I am enamored of Jon Stewart and it seems I'm not the only one.  Stewart seemed to be greeted with a hero's welcome all last weekend and I suspect that has as much to do with his career before becoming a film director as it did with the actual film he was in Telluride presenting.  That said, he's the subject of a couple of profiles as a result of "Rosewater's" premiere at T-ride last weekend and I have linked them here.  First a piece from The Hollywood Reporter and Scott Feinberg in which Scott interviews Stewart:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/jon-stewart-embracing-film-festival-729418

And also from the Los Angeles Times, this profile of the comedian turned director:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/filmfestivals/la-et-mn-jon-stewart-rosewater-20140904-story.html


TELLURIDE WRAP UP



Friend of the blog, and I think I can safely say just "friend" without the added "of the blog" Christopher Schiller posted his thoughts of the festival weekend yesterday at ScriptMag.com.  Chris and I don't always agree (ex: he loved "Two Days, One Night"...me...not so much) but he's always got an interesting and well reasoned take.  Here's his review of what we experienced last week:'

http://www.scriptmag.com/festivals-2/telluride-film-festival-report

OSCARS: FEINBERG AND TAPLEY



The above mentioned Scott Feinberg takes a look at the post-Telluride awards alignment and offers his assessment of how things shook out after the four days in the San Juans:


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/telluride-postmortem-some-contenders-climbed-729395



Meanwhile, Oscar expert Kristopher Tapley reports that the Best Actor race just including the performances from Telluride is already intense...and he's right:

http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/best-actor-oscar-race-heats-up-in-telluride

I'm campaigning for Michael Keaton...it's my blog, I don't have to be impartial.

MUSIC FROM RUDDERLESS



My countdown to the release of William H. Macy's set in Oklahoma Sundance drama "Rudderless" continues.  It's set to release on Oct. 17th.  News came yesterday that music form the film...and it's cool music...will be available within the month.  One of the things that was said after the Oklahoma City screening of the film last June was how good the music was.  Now you'll soon have a chance to hear for yourself.  The Playlist posted the release story online and here's the link to that:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/exclusive-listening-preview-songs-from-the-rudderless-soundtrack-performed-by-selena-gomez-eef-barzelay-ben-kweller-more-20140904


More tomorrow...

Follow me on Twitter @Gort2

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What I Saw in Telluride/Video from "Rosewater" and "Birdman"/LA Weekly's Oscar Take from TFF #41/Rate Those Flicks!

Hello friends and neighbors...hope everyone has made it back home safe and sound from TFF #41.

WHAT I SAW IN TELLURIDE



Ten films over essentially two and a half days.  I would have liked to have gotten in about 4 more than I saw. Nevertheless, I saw some really fine film work at the top of the list.  Here's what I saw and how I rated them...

1) Birdman 5/5
2) The Imitation Game 4.5/5
3) Foxcatcher 4.5/5
4) Wild Tales 3.5/5
5) Red Army 3.5/5
6) The Homesman 3.5/5
7) Wild 3/5
8) Magician 3/5 (adjusted)
9) Rosewater 3/5
10) Two Days, One Night 2.5/5

A comment or two...



Alejandro Inarritu's "Birdman" is a masterpiece and his best film...and I'm a fan of his other films. I think it's a tremendous piece of work.  First and foremost is Michael Keaton's turn as Riggan Thomson...the down and out former movie superstar who made his name as the titular "Birdman".  It is a fearless performance on a ridiculously high, ridiculously thin high wire and he is riveting.  It's one of the great performances on film I think I have ever seen.  Keaton must win Oscar...it is a oral imperative.  To deny this performance would be a crime.  And Keaton isn't alone.  Ed Norton and Emma Stone shine as well.  Both should earn nominations and Norton may very well win the Supporting Actor trophy.

The technical work is also dizzying.  The technique to create a two hour plus film that seems to be nearly one long, non-stop take is an amazing feat that is a marvel to behold.

Admittedly, there will be some who don't care for the film.  It's experimental, existential and eccentric but that's also makes it so special.

I was in a conversation Saturday night, right after seeing the film, with one of the industry's smartest people about the Oscar season and we both agreed that it's a tough sell for Best Picture but the more I've thought about it, the more I wonder about that assessment.  It's hard to deny the virtuosity here and the actors, which make up the largest block in The Academy, I think are going to eat it up.  It's an actor's film.  Further, I think it's going to end up with the most nominations when they are announced next January.  So maybe...maybe...

Ultimately I have a hard time believing that I'm going to see a better film between now and Dec. 31st.




Morten Tyldum...better get used to hearing that name.  He's the director of "The Imitation Game", the Alan Turing biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch which came as close to being the consensus hit of last week's festival as I could find and deservedly.  I loved it too...not as much as "Birdman" but still...

Cumberbatch will be a nominee for this film as will, I expect, Mr. Tyldum and the screenwriter Graham Moore.  That's enough to virtually guarantee a Best Picture nomination.  There's some sentiment that Kiera Nightley might be in the running for a Supporting Actress nomination.  Noms for Costumes and Art Direction are real possibilities and I could also see an editing nomination.

Some have compared this to "The King's Speech", "Argo" and "The Artist".  Not thematically at all, but as a very well made film that Telluride audiences responded enthusiastically to.  For some that is damning praise...not to me.  Say what you will, about those three films (two of which were from The Weinstein Company, as is "Imitation Game") but they were all outstanding films in their own right.

All that said...it's a damn good film and Cumberbatch in almost any other year might be the Oscar favorite...



Finally, in terms of the films I really dug at TFF #41, there's Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher".  It's fantastic but won't be everyone's cup of tea.  "Too cold" is how I've heard it described and that makes some sense.  But that "cool" aesthetic is absolutely essential to the central performance/character.  Steve Carell is... well, some would say a revelation as deeply crazy buhzillionaire Jon duPont in this true story.  I wouldn't say "revelatory" because I've thought he was going to be great in the role since I first heard about it.  And if you read this blog with regularity, you know that I've been tracking this film for...well..ever.  You might recall that I (and others) went through last season thinking we might see it in 2013.  Nope.  But it was worth the wait.

So, Carell is excellent as are Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum as two brothers trying to conquer the Olympics circa 1988.  Bennett Miller's direction is sure handed, confident.  He's a great talent.  It's too bad that he takes as much time as he does because that means we'll see fewer films from him over the next couple of decades.  But if his body of work continues to mirror "Capote", "Moneyball" and now "Foxcatcher"...it'll be worth the wait.


My expectation is that we'll see two acting nominations, Carell and either Ruffalo or Tatum...I can't see all three being nominated, though they probably should be...both Ruffalo and Tatum deserve the nod.  The Ruffalo love is probably not a surprise.  Tatum in that convo might raise an eyebrow until you see the performance.  Again, I'm not surprised.  I thought he'd be great too.

A Best Picture nomination is possible since we're likely to have nine films make the grade again this year.  A Best Direction nom for Miller is a tougher proposition though.  I'd vote for him but, you know, I'm not an Academy member.

A script nod for Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye is more likely.  Maybe editing as well.

That's the stuff I really liked of the ten films that I got to.


VIDEO FROM "ROSEWATER" AND "BIRDMAN"



Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood posted exclusive video of interviews with the "Rosewater" and "Birdman" folks and I'm passing  along those links to you:

"Rosewater":

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/watch-rosewaters-jon-stewart-and-gael-garcia-bernal-talk-purposeful-inauthenticity-exclusive-20140903


"Birdman":

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/watch-alejandro-gonzalez-inarritu-talks-birdman-at-telluride-exclusive-video-20140901


L.A. WEEKLY'S OSCAR TAKE FROM TFF #41



L.A. Weekly posted their assessment of Oscar potentials from this year's Telluride crop yesterday.  Weirdly, no mention of "Birdman".  Check it here:

http://www.laweekly.com/publicspectacle/2014/09/03/wild-foxcatcher-rosewater-and-more-hunting-for-hits-at-telluride-2014


RATE THOSE FLICKS!



People have been responding but we need more data!  Send your 0-5 ratings of the films you saw in Telluride last weekend to me via Twitter @Gort2, or email me at michael_speech@hotmail.com or leave your ratings as a comment to this blog.  I'll be collating and publishing these in about a week.  Meanwhile, The Professionals Telluride ratings are coming in and I expect to have those ready for your consumption on Monday.

Rate 'em!


More tomorrow...