Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm Back!/Starting the Serious T-ride 2015 Speculation/Birdman: The Score Controversy and More/Imitation Game Notes/Troops for Wild as Well/Feinberg, Gurus and Derby/Rudderless Makes Some Noise


Good Monday morning and salutations on your last Monday of 2014.  MTFB/FAC returns after a week long hiatus with today's post but, fair warning, I will not be publishing a new post on New Year's Day.  The next new post will come on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015 and the regular posting schedule of Mondays and Thursdays will resume then as we get down to a matter of days before Oscar nominations are announced (Jan. 15).  Next Monday, I'll also post a new Film Awards Clearinghouse complete with every feature film category.

I hope that everyone has had a terrific holiday season thus far and here's wishing everyone a fantastic 2015!  Happy New Year!


OK...maybe not that serious...but...

Here's the way my process works, more or less in a chronological fashion.

1) Sundance and Berlin Festivals...Sundance announcements act as a nearly complete guarantee that those films will NOT appear at Telluride on Labor Day weekend.  I can think of two exceptions over the nine years I've been going to Telluride: Tamara Jenkins "The Savages" in 2007 and Lone Sherfig's "An Education" in 2009.  So, films that have already been announced for next month's Sundance ("Slow West", "True Story", "A Walk in the Woods" "The End of the Tour", Noah Baumbach's "Mistress America", ) are almost certainly off Telluride's table.

Meanwhile, the Berlinale almost always unearths a film or two that make the Telluride lineup so looking at the films announced for that fest can sometimes give you a signal.  2014's " '71" and 2013's "Gloria" are both examples of films that played Berlin and then made an appearance at Telluride.

Some of Berlin's 2015 lineup has already been  announced.  Will Terrence Malick's "Knight of Cups" make its way from its announced Berlin premiere to Telluride?  (Probably not)  How about Peter Greenaway's "Eisenstein in Guanajuato"? (MTFB reader Christopher Schiller thinks that's a real possibility).  There are still more titles to be announced from Berlin and it's almost a certainty that one or two of them will be on our schedule come Labor Day.  Berlin runs from Feb. 5-15.

2) Post-Oscar predictions...Almost immediately after the Oscars are announced on Feb. 22, enterprising analysts and bloggers will publish/post Oscar 2015 speculation and prediction lists.  Those are often a lot of fun to cull for possible Telluride titles.

I looked back at what I posted the last couple of years based on the "Monday morning" post-Oscar speculation and found that the first post-Oscar post this year that included 2014 Oscar speculation (and, as a result for me , Telluride speculation) had mentions of "Birdman", "The Imitation Game", "Wild" and "Foxcatcher".  I posted Oscar speculation lists from The Playlist, Sasha Stone's Awards Daily and The Atlantic just a week after last year's Oscars.  The Playlist also had a brief mention for "The Homesman".

In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter had the first piece of Oscar 2014 speculation that I jumped on after Oscar 2013 was done.  They included "Foxcatcher" (we didn't know we'd be a year premature), "Inside Llewyn Davis"and  "Nebraska".  So, the immediate post-Oscar speculation about the following year's Oscar prospects can give some good clues.

3) Cannes speculation, lineup announcement, presentations and awards.  Cannes is a veritable smorgasbord of Telluride possibilities year in and year out.  Cannes speculation and rumor starts early (it's already started for this year).  I've made a lot of the Cannes/Telluride connection over the last few years and with good reason.  The connection between the two fests is remarkable.  In 2014 Cannes and Telluride shared "Two Days, One Night", "Foxcatcher", "Leviathan", "Mommy", "Mr. Turner", "Wild Tales" and "The Homesman" and that was just from Cannes' competition lineup.  So keeping an eye on the rumors about what could play Cannes, the actual announcement of its lineup, the critical reactions as the films play and the awards that are announced at the end of the festival are all good ways to find possible Telluride films.

4) Summer...I begin to post six times a week the first week of June and that schedule continues right up to and through the festival.  During those months I focus on a number of factors: Distributors, producers, film makers with a Telluride history and, of course, the speculation of the film media.  Toward the middle of summer, speculation about Venice, New York and Toronto lineups can often provide clues.  Which leads to...

5) This past year, the "Toronto" ultimatum and its subsequent listing of the films it announced for its lineup complete with that film's premiere status made Telluride speculation an easier and more certain prospect.  That was true for this space but also for any number of major film media outlets as the announcements from Toronto proceeded last summer.  If the process remains the same this year, then you can expect to have a pretty good idea of a bunch of Telluride's titles published/posted in a bunch of places.

The Toronto honchos are on record as having been very happy with how this worked in 2014 and have vowed to continue the policy in 2015.  That said, there was some comment from the TIFF folks that there might be some "tweaks" with The Hollywood Reporter on Sept. 14th publishing this:

"Both Bailey and Handling  (Toronto Artistic Director and CEO respectively)  said it was too early to decide whether the Telluride premiere policy will be tweaked, but that they will consult the industry ahead of next year's event."

I wrote at the time that seemed like Toronto was giving itself some "wiggle room" to adjust the policy while still sounding bullish on its first year implementation.  

Personally, and I emphasize this is strictly me and strictly speculation on my part, it seemed the "industry" was none too keen on how Toronto played last year and I honestly have doubts that the Torontonians can have been all that pleased.  

When your big debuts were "The Judge", which may get a single Oscar nod for Robert Duvall) and "The Theory of Everything", which may end up with as many as half a dozen Oscar nods but is fairly likely to end up with bupkes on Oscar may want to re-think the policy that created that situation. 

Adding insult to injury was the fact that Telluride "premiere" "The Imitation Game" won Toronto's Audience Award despite not having the big opening weekend slot reserved for it.

So, I wouldn't be surprised if the Toronto policy is "tweaked" come this summer.

That said, I just read a post from The Hollywood Reporter yesterday that is a 2014 review of all things Canadian vis-a-vis the film business and that reporter seems to think that Toronto is just fine with the way events have played out.

So, there it is, a broad outline of how this thing bumbles along for six months of the year. And all of that is to get to this... Jeffrey Wells/Hollywood Elsewhere posted a "20 Films" list for 2015.  Included there are some interesting Telluride possibilities:

The first T-ride possible mentioned is Alejandro G. Inarritu's "The Revenant" staring Leonardo DiCaprio.  I've mentioned it here before.  The film is listed as "filming" by IMDb at this moment, so the real conversation is whether it would be ready in time for a 2015 Telluride play.  The key clue to look for:  If it's finished and thick in the middle of Venice speculation and is ultimately announced for Venice, look for Alejandro in the San Juans for a "sneak" of the film.

 Wells mentions the Scott Cooper directed "Black Mass" with Johnny Depp as real life, legendary gangster Whitey Bulger.  Warner Brothers has the distribution for this film and could well return to Telluride in 2015.  WB missed the party in 2014 but their success with "Argo" in 2012 and "Gravity" in 2013 makes me believe that "Black Mass" could definitely be a part of this year's Telluride conversation.

From Wells' list, those two films seem to have the greatest chance of playing in Telluride.

Here's the link to the complete post:


The Academy's Music Branch rejected the attempt to overturn their original decision disallowing Antonio Sanchez's percussion heavy score for Best Original Score Oscar consideration.  Seems a shame.  When I saw it in T-ride, I thought it was oppressive but when I saw it a second time over Thanksgiving, it seemed to have been slightly altered and was a much more appealing part of the film.

HitFix/InContention, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety carried stories, among other outlets, about the process and the appeal:

Additionally, in other "Birdman" news, Dave Karger's Fandango Frontrunners series on YouTube included a segment with Oscar candidate Michael Keaton.  You can see that here:

Meanwhile, The New York Times Movie blog interviewed the cast of "Birdman" about the challenges of acting on the stage for the play within the film:


Morten Tyldum's "The Imitation Game" continues to fare well in limited release.  I saw, over the long holiday weekend at some point, the InContention's Kristopher Tapley thinks that it might be the film that wins the big prize on Jan. 22.  I've said that as well.

For me, the calculation goes like this: "Boyhood" too long and not much really happens.  "Birdman" too weird.  "Selma"  Questions about historical accuracy...which leaves you with : "The Imitation Game" against which the biggest "knock" seems to be "not gay enough"...Now, this isn't what I'm saying...just some of the narratives that I've seen being spun and, frankly, among a good part of the Academy "not gay enough" won't hurt it.  What's left?  "The Theory of Everything"?  The lack of serious buzz for director James Marsh makes me dubious.  "Whiplash"?  JK Simmons win is fore-ordained at this point, otherwise, no.

So. perhaps it is "The Imitation Game" that wins out.  I wouldn't be surprised.

I have included a couple of links to posts focused on "The Imitation Game".  The first is from Variety's "Directors and Their Troops" series that looks at the technicians behind the camera that make the film happen:

The other post is from The Hollywood Reporter and focuses on the producers who put the film together:


Variety's "Directors and Their Troops" series also recently focused on Jean Marc Vallee and the crew that made "Wild".  Check that here:


In lieu of an update from The Film Awards Clearinghouse and because Oscar ballots are out today into the hands of Academy members, here are the links to the latest postings from Oscar expert Scott Feinberg/The Hollywood Reporter as well as the latest compilations of experts from The Gurus of Gold/Movie City News and The Gold Derby (according to them all, "Boyhood" is still the overwhelming my boldness on "The Imitation Game" above..maybe is folly):


 William H. Macy's Oklahoma-centric (filmed in state and co-written by Okies Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison) is showing up here and there on some end-of the -year Ten Best lists.  Congratulations "Rudderless" crew!  You can see it on lists from Crave Online and WeLive

That's it for a week, unless something truly earth shattering comes up...Happy New Year from Michael's Telluride Film Blog!

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