Telluride Film Fest 2018 Triumphs at the Oscars – Again!

Telluride Film Fest 2018 Triumphs at the Oscars – Again!

The Telluride Film Festival is widely known for doing the right thing, not the Industry thing, when it comes to choosing the films showcased over Labor Day weekend. Dating back to Bill and Stella Pence and Tom Luddy and continuing with Julie Huntsinger (and Luddy still, though he was sadly absent from the 2018 event), Telluride directors have developed a reputation for eschewing Hollywood tinsel and instead filling their shopping carts with movies that feature complex characters and great writing that brings to screen life stories about the wonder and treacheries of the human heart and mind. Oscar buzz is an inevitable byproduct of Telluride’s integrity and great taste, and so for years now, films that surfaced in Telluride as world or North American premieres have won gold. Examples include “The Shape of Water,” “Moonlighting,” “La La Land,” “Birdman,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Argo,” and so on. This year, though no one was sure they had seen what the Oscars would choose as Best Picture, everyone was stoked about Alfonso Curaon’s “Roma,” Jimmy Chin and Elisabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s “Free Solo” and all the performances in “The Favourite.” And no big surprise, all three triumphed at the Oscars – though Best Picture went to “Green Book,” a highly controversial choice. You can’t win ’em all, though Telluride won enough – again.

Back in September 2018, we reviewed the 2018 Telluride Film Festival. Now, looking back, we weigh with some of our comments about three of the newly minted Oscar winners:

On “Roma”:

“It’s all there in luminous black and white, an intimate portrait of the artist as a young man, which, according to its “author,” 2018 Telluride Film Festival tributee Alfonso Cuaron, is based on his understanding today of the boy he was back then.

His cine-memoir “Roma” largely unfolds through the eyes of Cleo, Cuaron’s nanny, a young indigenous woman and domestic worker in the middle-class neighborhood neighborhood in Mexico City that gives the film its name.

The beautiful love letter to his surrogate mom was clearly shot through the lens of a camera ravenous for emotional depth. Cuaron’s meticulously detailed images on the screen result in an unforgettable study of a woman from a disadvantaged social background in the context of a world rife with issues of domestic strife, class and race…”

On “Free Solo”:

“Lovingly directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (who also directed the popular “Meru,” which features similar terrain), “Free Solo” is a character study of an extraordinary human who marches to a different drum. Honnold is man who can love, but his love interest (Sanni, who also features prominently in the story) is not his numero uno priority. And Honnold thinks of death like most of us would a sprained ankle. No fun, but hey, shit happens…”

On “The Favourite”:

“Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing, pineapple eating and throwing tomatoes at naked men in wigs are thriving preoccupations. A frail, sick, gout-afflicted Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts, occupies the throne, but it is her close friend, the Duchess of Marlborough, aka Sarah Churchill, who is much prettier, much smarter and way more strategic, who governs the country, while tending to Anne’s ill health, mercurial temper – and her insatiable erotic appetite. When a new servant Abigail Masham arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah, who takes Abigail under her wing. And the servant, a former lady, sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war demand Sarah’s full attention, Abigail happily fills in as the Queen’s companion and rabbit wrangler. Their burgeoning friendship gives the woman a chance to realize her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics –  or pet rabbits, the Queen’s “babies” – get in her way.

And so goes the over-the-top, wickedly funny, titillating comedy drama, “The Favourite,” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Olivia Colman as the loopy Queen Anne. Her bravura performance, definitely Oscar-worthy, is nearly matched by her co-stars, Rachel Weisz as the hot brainiac with ice running through her veins and Film Fest tributee Emma Stone as Abigail, who captures hearts and minds as the innocent we first meet, but proves to be a worthy (read nimble) adversary to her rival, Lady Sarah.

Wolves running – in the Queen’s case, hobbling – around in sheeps’ clothing.

Game on ladies.

Huntsinger described the film in her usual understated fashion as “cheeky fun.”

Of Colman, Laura Dern was overheard gushing: “That was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on the screen…”

For a full review of the 2018 Telluride Film Festival and more on those films, go here.

Below is Variety‘s summary of the Oscars.

Bohemian Rhapsody” led the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday, taking home four awards in the actor, film editing, sound mixing, and sound editing categories.

Close behind with three wins each were “Roma,” “Black Panther,” and “Green Book,” which won best picture alongside gold for original screenplay and supporting actor.

In addition to a foreign language film nod, “Roma” also took home directing and cinematography Oscars for Alfonso Cuaron, while “Black Panther” surprised with wins in production design, costume design, and original score.

On the acting side, Olivia Colman won for actress, upsetting a competitive field that included Yalitza Aparicio, Melissa McCarthy, Lady Gaga, and frontrunner Glenn Close. Close had previously won the Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role in “The Wife,” so all eyes were on her to see if she could pull in her first win after seven nominations. As expected, “Bohemian Rhapsody” star Rami Malek won for actor.

A star-studded list of presenters also took to the stage, including chef Jose Andres, Dana Carvey, Queen Latifah, congressman John Lewis, Diego Luna, Tom Morello, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Amandla Stenberg, Barbra Streisand, and Serena Williams.

The evening also featured musical performances by Queen and Adam Lambert, as well as Jennifer Hudson, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, and Bette Midler.

Read the full list of winners below.

Best Picture

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book” (WINNER)
“A Star Is Born”


Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” (WINNER)
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Lead Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite” (WINNER)
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Lead Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (WINNER)
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Original Song

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice (WINNER)
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Original Score

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson (WINNER)
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Adapted Screenplay

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (WINNER)
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Original Screenplay

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly (WINNER)
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay

Continued reading here.

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