But again don’t let the rustic, laid-back vibe deceive you: This little town without stoplights is where eight of the last 10 Best Picture Oscar winners made priority stops on their way to awards-season accolades. And this year is no different. Cannes prize winners A Portrait of A Lady on Fire and Parasite will hit the mountains, while several films with hefty Oscar buzz will make their world premieres. The awards season pool is growing, and shrinking, a little each day. Here are our five most anticipated films from Telluride Film Festival just before the premiere start tonight and things really heat up.
A world premiere for James Mangold’s Ford v. Ferrari is quite the statement for Telluride. As the fall lineup becomes increasingly more competitive, films with mega-watt stars and masses of buzz are still jockeying with similar titles at just about every festival stop. Perhaps this is why the Matt Damon/Christian Bale drama chose to skip the Venice Film Festival (a logical stop most years) and come straight to Telluride; the move makes the racing movie one of the biggest films of the program and one of the hottest tickets. The film chronicles the true-life tale of how the Ford Motor Company worked tirelessly to build a car that could beat racing powerhouse Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966. Damon plays famed Ford car designer Carroll Shelby and Bale is behind the wheel as racing legend Ken Miles. If we trust the first trailer, this could well be a funny, fast-paced adventure and a perfect awards launch pad or Mangold, Damon, and Bale.
The only previously screened film to make our list, Marriage Story is still one of our most anticipated films of the year. And the early reviews on Noah Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical feature from Venice have done nothing to quell our expectations; if you can believe it, they’ve raised them. The movie tells the story of a bicoastal breakup and has been described as a modern-day Ordinary People mixed with a dash of Kramer vs. Kramer; it’s said to be poignant, intimate, and – like so many other Baumbach films – full of big laughs and tears. Speaking to IndieWire in July, the While We’re Young director confessed the film defies categorization: “[Marriage Story] is a hidden thriller, a procedural, a romantic comedy, a tragic love story. I felt like this was a subject that could handle all those things.” Recently released dual trailers show a film that looks be a story without villains; as Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph put it: “Marriage Story may often resemble a tug of war between its stars, but it’s on both of their sides.”
Adam Sandler plus the Safdie Brothers looks to be a match made in cinematic heaven, and we’ve highlighted Sandler’s performance as one our early picks for Best Actor. (After Robert Pattinson hooked up with the Safdies for Good Time, he was finally able to shed the stigma of his years portraying a sparkly vampire.) Though some may be skeptical of the critical reception given Sandler’s recent filmography, it’s worth noting that when Sandler teams up with indie directors, good things happen. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) earned the former SNL star his best reviews in years, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s indie darling Punch Drunk Love scored Sandler his first Golden Globe nomination. In Uncut Gems, Sandler plays a celebrity jeweler from New York’s famed “Diamond District” who is suddenly thrust into a race-against-the-clock-thriller to get back his merchandise or pay off his debts when one of his couriers is robbed.
The Telluride Film Festival runs Aug. 29-Sept. 2. The official selection for the festival can be found here.