This past Sunday during the Academy Awards, Brie Larson won the best actress in a leading role award for her part in the film Room. She began her acceptance speech by thanking the Telluride Film Festival for giving the film an opportunity to be seen. Room is one film on a very impressive list of films (with six of the last 8 best picture winners included) that either had their North American or World premier at the Telluride Film Festival. They have been providing a stage for immaculate film for decades. Here are just some of the critically acclaimed films that took off at the festival.
This film directed by Bennett Miller and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman is about New Yorker writer, Truman Capote. Set in 1959, Capote learns about a gruesome murder of a Kansas family of four and travels to the city of Holcomb, Kansas to research the case for a story that would become his most famous piece of work, In Cold Blood. While in town, Capote interviews one of the killers, Perry Smith, and forms a relationship with him. Capote’s finished book went on to become a redefining work of nonfiction. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, and was nominated for four additional Oscars.
Director Ang Lee tells a story about forbidden love between two cowboys that meet as sheep herders. The film follows them through the years as they grow apart and begin their separate families, but are ultimately drawn back together. This modern western is a heart wrenching tale of love, secrecy, and longing. Brokeback Mountain won three Oscars including Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing- Adapted Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures- Original Score, and was nominated for five additional Oscars.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald, this film is based on the ruthless dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin, during 1970’s as told by his physician, Nicholas Garrigan. Garrigan meets the Ugandan president while working in a rural hospital and the two become friends immediately. Amin soon promotes Garrigan to the national health department and makes him one of his closest advisors. Over the years Amin becomes obsessed with the possibility of being assassinated and the people of Uganda pay the price for his fear. The film won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
Directors Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan made the biggest movie of 2008 with this film about a teenager from Mumbai, Jamal Malik, uses his life experiences during the Indian Version of the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Malik is arrested and accused of cheating as the show ends for the day before answering the last winning question. To prove his innocence he recounts his life story for the police to reveal the experiences that helped him answer each question of the game. It won eight Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures- Original Score, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures- Original Song, and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and was nominated for an additional two additional Oscars.
This film tells the story of King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland during his sudden rise to the throne. Throughout the film King George VI works with speech therapist, Lionel Logue, to remedy a stutter that has plagued him his whole life and to gain the confidence he needs to run the country. He finds his voice and courage through the therapist’s unorthodox methods, and is able to lead his country through World War II. The King’s Speech went on to win four Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Direction, and Best Writing- Original Screenplay and was nominated for an additional eight Oscars.
Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, this film tells the story of a CIA rescue mission of six Americans from Tehran amidst the 1980 U.S. hostage crisis in Iran. Undercover as a Hollywood producer in search of the perfect location for their next film, CIA agent Tony Mendez enters Iran in hopes of smuggling the hostages out as crew members. They are in a race against time as the Iranians get closer to uncovering the ruse and endangering the lives of everyone involved. Argo won three Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing- Adapted Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Film Editing, and was nominated for four additional Oscars.
This film tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free African American man who finds himself captured and sold into slavery. Directed by Steve McQueen, this is a true story of the fight for freedom and justice. The setting is pre-Civil War America where Northup is taken from upstate New York and faced with physical abuse and violent slave owners as he tries to survive and regain his freedom. It isn’t until his twelfth year as a slave that Northup meets an abolitionist that will go on to help him be a free man again. The film won three Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Writing- Adapted Screenplay, and was nominated for an additional six Oscars.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu takes you on a journey following an actor that has fallen from grace as he struggles to deal with the current state of his life. Actor Riggan Thomson played a superhero during the height of his career and never quite got out from under the character’s shadow. He attempts to make a new name for himself by directing, writing, and starring in a broadway play. He jumps through hoops trying to make the play a hit with the risk of losing it all. Thomson spends the entire film battling with his own insecurities to try and make a greater name for himself. Birdman won four Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Direction, and Best Writing- Original Screenplay, and was nominated for an additional five Oscars.
Room is a story directed by Lenny Abrahamson that depicts a woman and her five-year-old son, Jack as they escape from a room that has been his whole world for his entire life. His mother, called Ma, has transformed the room into a safe and comfortable space for Jack that he was convinced it was all there was. Jack grows consistently more curious as he ages until Ma has no option left but to attempt an escape. Upon their escape they are faced with coming to terms with the real world and changing everything they had known about life while trapped in the 10X10 room. Room took home the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and was nominated for three additional Oscars.
This film, directed by Tom McCarthy, tells the true story of the huge child molestation and cover-up scandal going on in the local Catholic Archdiocese and how the Boston Globe unveiled it all. The “Spotlight” team at the Boston Globe digs into allegations made against the Catholic Church during an investigation that would go on for a year. What they found was decades of the church covering up child molestation to save the reputation of their clergy by Boston’s leaders in religion, law, and government. The film won two Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Writing- Original Screenplay, and was nominated for an additional four Oscars.