If the Academy Awards were a baseball game, the Telluride Film Festival would be batting clean-up.
Opening Aug. 29 and running through Labor Day, the 41st annual festival in this remote mountain resort doesn’t aim to be a bellwether for anything Oscar-related.
Yet festival programmers in recent years have demonstrated an incredible knack for hitting home runs with the first screenings of some of the top trophy winners. “Argo,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The King’s Speech” and “Slumdog Millionaire” all had their world premieres in Telluride, and “The Artist” was first screened for North American audiences here.
Which raises the inevitable question: Is next year’s best picture winner about to be unveiled at the festival?
The lineup of world or North American premieres at Telluride includes the following films (trailers below):
- Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” a darkly comic look at an actor (Michael Keaton) in the midst of an existential crisis.
- “The Imitation Game,” a drama about a British World War II codebreaker (Benedict Cumberbatch).
- Talk show host Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, “Rosewater,” a drama set against the Iranian elections starring Gael Garcia Bernal.
- “Wild,” with Reese Witherspoon playing hiker Cheryl Strayed in an adaptation of the best-selling memoir.
All of those films also will also show at next week’s Toronto International Film Festival, and by then the critical word of mouth — and a whole lot of Oscar momentum — could be building fast.
Iñárritu’s “Birdman" already has buzz from its screening this week at the Venice Film Festival.
“We are once again thrilled to present the absolute best in new American and world cinema and treasured films from the past,” said festival executive director Julie Huntsinger in announcing this year’s slate. “We hope our audience will be as inspired as we are.”
If history is a guide, the likely answer is: no doubt about it.
Check back here frequently for The Frame's coverage of Telluride, which takes place Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. Are you at Telluride? Weigh in on your favorites in the comments, on KPCC's Facebook page or on Twitter (tag @KPCC and @theframe).