Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oscar Matters: Looking at Oscar from a Long Way Out/Best of the Week

It's Saturday!


Oscar predictions are a fool's errand at best and that's true up until the moment the envelopes are opened.  Still, some intrepid souls have the courage to stick their necks out months ahead of time and attempt to suss out what's going to happen.  That's important to the enterprise of what I try to do here at MTFB-which is to do my level best to explore the possible Telluride Film Festival lineup.  It's secret nature makes it a challenge that this space tries to accept.  To that end, even early Oscar predictions can give some insight into the films that, at a minimum, have some perception of being quality productions and because of that give us some clues about what films are likely in the mix for prime placement at Toronto, Venice New York and Telluride film fests.

Late this week, Joey Magidson of Hollywood News updated his early early Oscar predictions which you can find in its entirety here:

Magidson's ten predicted Best Picture films are "Foxcatcher", "Unbroken", "Men, Women and Children", "Big Eyes", "Rosewater", "Gone Girl", "Interstellar", "Mr. Turner", "Boyhood" and "A Most Violent Year".

Of these ten, you could make a case for any title being at Telluride with the likely exception of "Boyhood" which played Sundance.  The most likely film to make T-ride from Magidson's list is Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner".  Also with at least a 50/50 chance from this list: "Foxcatcher", "Men, Women and Children" and "A Most Violent Year".  The other five films are all possibles but unlikely at this point.

From other categories that Magidson predicts,  "Suite Francaise" and "Inherent Vice" mentions remind me that they also some TFF #41 potential.



Michael Fassbender as "MacBeth"

Last week, the staff at HitFix posted a story entitled : "20 Movies Coming Out in 2014 That Aren't on Your Radar Yet".  Maybe they're not on everyone's radar, but most of them have been on the MTFB radar and some of them for quite awhile.  Of the 20 films that HitFix include are a good half dozen that have real Telluride potential:

"Birdman" from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.  Inarritu and distrib Fox Searchlight make this one to watch for TFF #41.

"MacBeth" from Justin Kurzel.  Distrib is The Weinstein Company.

"The Imitation Game" from Morten Tyldem...also distributed by TWC.

"Men, Women and Children" from T-ride fave Jason Reitman.  Paramount is distributing and had both Reitman's "Up in the Air" and "Labor Day" at Telluride.

"A Most Violent Year" from J.C. Chandor.  A24 is the distributor (which had "Enemy" and "Under the Skin" at T-ride last year)

"Suite Francaise" from Saul Dibb.  Another TWC film.

From this list of six films I feel the most strongly about "Birdman".  I actually think "A Most Violent Year" is the next most likely TFF #41 selection from this particular list.  I'm personally pretty hot to catch "MacBeth" and "The Imitation Game" but one of the big mysteries for puzzling out Telluride titles this year is trying to figure out how Harvey Weinstein is going to play with the pieces he has.  Last year TWC had "Tracks", "The Unknown Known" and "Salinger" which was  a last minute replacement for "Philomena".  The year before, they were repped at Telluride only by "The Sapphires".  But Harvey has also had great success in past years with both "The King's Speech" and "The Artist" running through Telluride before going n to win the Best Picture Oscar.

Three other films that are on the HitFix list that have what I would term a "theoretical" chance to play T-ride are Tim Burton's "Big Eyes" (another TWC film), James Marsh's "Theory of Everything" (Focus Features) and Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" (Open Road Films).

All of this comes with the same caveat that I have already been repeating fairly ceaselessly which is: Toronto's demands to chose them or Telluride for prime screening  times is a joker in the deck that adds an incredible level of uncertainty into the mix.

Here's the link to the HitFix post:


I have often wondered about the dynamic that exists between these two powerhouse independent distributors and now we have a really good article that addresses that very situation.  Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times wrote this analysis about the battle for Indie supremacy between the two:


David Poland from The Movie City News put up his latest DP/30 focusing on Cannes hit (and screenplay winner) "Leviathan" from director and co-writer Andrey Zvyagintsev.  SPC has the U.S. distribution.  That combined with the high profile success at Cannes makes it a very real Telluride #41 lineup possibility.  Here's the link:


I couldn't say anything about it until it happened and it happened last night.  William H. Macy's "Rudderless" screened in a private setting in Oklahoma City last night and through the kindness of co-writer Casey Twenter, my wife and I were in attendance.

Lots to talk about.  The film, the Q and A after with Macy in attendance and the plans going forward.for the film which is in the Samuel Goldwyn Films distribution company.

Most of that's coming in tomorrow's post.  Suffice it to say we had a great time and were thrilled to be a part of the first screening in Oklahoma.

I will say what I tweeted last night...I've been waiting to see this film, literally for years...and  I finally got to. It didn't is very, very good.


William H. Macy at the Q&A for "Rudderless" in OKC Monday night via Kristy Patterson

As Monday night's OKC screening fades a bit in the rear view of the are some impressions of William H. Macy's "Rudderless":

The film's screenplay has changed a good bit from the original version that I first looked at back in November of 2009.  It's even changed since the re-write that I looked at after Macy came on board the project.

The acting is generally good with standout performances from Billy Crudup in the lead and excellent support from Anton Yelchin, Laurence Fishburne and Felicity Huffman.  Selena Gomez, who soaks up a lot of the press that has surrounded the film, is very effective in a small but pivotal role.

The music is outstanding.  Virtually all of it was written for the film by Simon Steadman and Charlton Pettus. Macy said in the Q&A Monday night that the music is intended to be its own character and that is definitely the case.  It also serves, as you'd expect, to carry a lot of subtext for the film. It does that too.  Make no mistake here, the music is just great...and largely performed by the cast.  You can sample the music at the Rudderless Movie website.  I've linked it below.

Expect (finally) a trailer to drop in a month or so...that's according to Macy.

The future for "Rudderless" is still an open question at this point.  Samuel Goldwyn Films has the U.S. distribution and Macy said Monday night that they along with Paramount are still developing a marketing plan.  Realistically, the decision about how to market the film will be determinative in terms of when and how the film id released.  Frankly, I expect (and this without a shred of implication from any of the principal players on Monday night) that the SGF folks will attempt to position the film via some plays in film fests this fall.  As I have noted numerous times, the "Rudderless" play at Sundance virtually guarantees that it's out of the running for Telluride.  Frankly, New York and Venice don't feel right to me either.  Toronto...I could see that happening.

"Rudderless" was reportedly shot for $5 million and credit should go to all involved as it sure looks and sounds like a much more expensive production.

For those that haven't kept up with the "Rudderless" developments over the's the official synopsis from the film's website:

Several years after tragically losing his son in an all-to-familiar school shooting, a grieving father, SAM (Billy Crudup), discovers a box of demo tapes and a notebook full of lyrics. The revelation of his son's unknown talent drives him to perform one of the songs at an open-mic night. What was supposed to be an act of catharsis sets in motion a series of events that ends with him reluctantly agreeing to start a band with a quirky young man named QUENTIN (Anton Yelchin). As weeks turn into months and practices turn into gigs the band, RUDDERLESS, begin to gel. With each performance it seems Sam has found the catalyst he needs to move on with his life. He revels in the opportunity to do things for Quentin that he never did for his own son. He swells with pride over the prospect of completing Josh’s musical journey. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for his illusion of a second chance to begin to crumble. RUDDERLESS is an uplifting human drama about music’s ability to heal, chasing dreams and the unconditional love of a parent. - See more at:

Finally, maybe I'm a sucker for this because I have been spooking around on the fringes of this project for more than five and half years.  Admittedly it punches some of my buttons thematically and so I'm predisposed to affection for the film and I do love the music.

"Rudderless" is very, very good.

As you might expect, I'll keep following this project as it continues its journey.  I'll also continue to follow the fortunes of Oklahoma film makers Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison whose dream "Rudderless" who managed to make the dream become a reality...believe me, there were ups and downs...and I don't even know all of them.  Casey and Jeff...if you're reading this somewhere:  you're an inspiration!


Three events are (or almost have to be looming) as far as the 41st Telluride Film Festival is concerned.

1) A poster artist should soon be named...though early June isn't always an absolute certainty.  Last year the artist was named on June 3rd.  In 2012, it was July 9th before we found out who it would be.  In 2011, we actually had the 38th TFF poster released for public consumption.  So, I expect that an artist announcement is probably very near.

Last year's poster:

Hey, Telluride Honchos, if you're still looking for a poster artist...or want to start thinking about one for next year...look at these samples of what my wife is currently doing.  Imagine a "SHOW" version:


They're original illustrations done directly on rescued/re-purposed vintage dictionary pages.  The illustration is done on a page on which that definition appears.  Would be a cool poster...

Check this and her other work on Etsy or Pinterest:

2) A guest director announcement should probably occur before June is gone.  Of course last year there was no announcement...really ever.  It was the lineup press release the day before the fest that revealed the many-headed approach that the fest took last year as a part of their 40th anniversary edition.  Since we're back to "normal" this year (no five day fest), I expect we'll be back to normal as regards a guest director as well.  That means we have a good chance to see that news in the next three weeks.  The 2012 announcement came on June 11th while the 2011 announcement came June 28th.

3) Will there be a "Telluride Party" in L.A. in the next week or two?  There has been, at least for the last two years.  I reported that news on June 12, 2013 and June 16, 2012 respectively.  My guess is probably yes.  Will it give us any clues about what to expect?  The jury is out about that.  Last year I got bupkes from it.  I chased the presence of James Grey as a sure indicator that "The Immigrant" would screen and tried to puzzle out the significance of the attendance of "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner.  I thought it meant we might see Weiner's film or that he might be the 40th TFF Guest  None of that.

The previous year's story on the T-ride L.A. wing-ding gave some clues that panned out..I.E. "Amour" and "Rust and Bone" as well as a reference to a major studio making a play for Telluride programmers.  I have always thought that was likely Warners and that they were making the pitch for "Argo".

So three events to watch for over the next thee weeks that will have some significant baring on our TFF #41 experience.  Stay tuned.


Marion Cotillard in "Two Days, One Night"

The first "Ten Bets" for TFF #41 is two weeks away (or so) and almost certain to land somewhere on that list is "Two Days, One Night" from the Dardennes Brothers starring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard.
Cotillard was a tributee in 2012 at Telluride and could conceivably make a return this year to accompany the film (and also with Justin Kurzel's "MacBeth" with Michael Fassbender...Marion is one of this year's "twofer" possibilities).

The Playlist posted a big article yesterday with Cotillard's new pics from "Two Days", an interview with Charlie Rose, a Brit interview about MacBeth, the Cannes press conference for "Two Days", footage from "The Immigrant".  There's a lot of stuff.  Take a look here:


Wenders and Selgado via The Film Stage

Thompson on Hollywood posted links yesterday to clips from Wim Wenders documentary about Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Selgado entitled "Salt of the Earth".  "Salt" is one of a number of docs that seem like they have reasonably good chances to make the Telluride '14 lineup ("Red Army" is another).

 The Thompson piece links to those clips via The Film Stage. I have provided the links to both posts here:


Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Imitation Game" via Entertainment Weekly

Also up yesterday...a couple of new stills from the set of "The Imitation Game" directed by Morten Tyldum.  Anyone who reads this space with much frequency knows that this right at the top of my TFF #41 wish list.

Take a look at the post and the other pic from Entertainment Weekly/The Playlist here:

Remember to like and follow Michael's Telluride Film Blog on Facebook and Twitter @Gort2

More coming on Monday...

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