Oscar Beat: Does This Year’s Telluride Film Festival Lineup Include Our Best Picture Winner?

     August 28, 2013

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The lineup for this year’s Telluride Film Festival was announced this morning just before the Colorado fest gets underway this weekend, and with it comes some serious expectations.  As I outlined in the inaugural edition of Oscar Beat, the fall film festivals mark the official start of awards season, as the studios use the festivals to announce their heavy hitters and Oscar hopefuls.  Four of the last five Best Picture winners played at Telluride (Argo, The King’s Speech, The Artist, and Slumdog Millionaire) and this year’s lineup certainly has the potential to launch our eventual winner with fare from the Coen Brothers, Jason Reitman, and Alfonso Cuaron all on tap.

Hit the jump for more, as we take a closer look at the Telluride lineup with an eye towards sussing out our 2013 Best Picture winner.

gravity-sandra-bullock-2Telluride goes hand in hand with the Toronto International Film Festival (which begins next Thursday), as the two fests usually screen a number of the same films.  Telluride, however, goes first, and is used as a launching pad to get the buzz started on many films that will become “hot tickets” at TIFF.  As announced this morning, the major Telluride screenings are as follows:

However, of those five, only Gravity and Labor Day, will be playing at TIFF. Additionally, there will be three “secret” screenings at Telluride (Argo was a secret screening last year), and most are guessing that 12 Years a Slave will be taking up one of those slots.  If history is any indication, one of the aforementioned films or unannounced secret screenings could very well be our eventual Best Picture winner.

All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska already played the Cannes Film Festival to positive reviews earlier this year, and Gravity just screened last night as part of the Venice Film Festival to some very strong buzz.  That leaves Reitman’s Labor Day—and probably one or two of the secret screenings—as the heretofore-unseen films that could break out.

inside-llewyn-davis-oscar-isaacOscar campaigning is a long game, though, so the goal at Telluride is to start the buzz, not announce yourself as a serious contender and then disappear.  That’s why so many of the Telluride films will also be playing at TIFF—the studios are counting on critics and journalists to start beating the drum for their favorites, which could carry them all the way to Oscar glory like Argo or see an eventual washout like Reitman’s Up in the Air.

Looking at this year’s Telluride lineup, Gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis would appear to be the most likely candidates to become major Oscar contenders at this point.  That being said, we’ll have to wait and see how their fall screenings go down when they play alongside the rest of the Oscar hopeful fare, which looks to be quite crowded.

Expect to hear plenty of buzz on these films as the weekend progresses and Telluride gets into full swing.  Once TIFF kicks off next Thursday and an even more critics start seeing the awards hopefuls, we’ll begin to see some clear early frontrunners emerge.

I’ll be attending my first TIFF this year along with Steve and Matt, so be sure to check back here on Collider frequently for plenty of updates along the way.  Look for a big two-part Oscar Beat in the coming days in which we break down the current (very early) state of the Best Picture race, and sound off in the comments below with what you think is the most likely to be our Best Picture winner based on the Telluride lineup.

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