Off the Carpet: Telluride wraps, Toronto approaches

Posted by · 11:43 am · September 3rd, 2012

The season is here. “Argo” has sounded the starting gun in the mountains of Telluride while “The Master” has made a strong case on the Lido of Venice. Where will we go from here?

The upcoming Toronto Film Festival will bring a number of possibilities. The Weinstein Company has a few threads dangling, and in typical fashion, will see what sticks to the wall.

“The Sapphires” played well at Telluride after having already pleased crowds in Cannes, but it’s likely to move to next year. “Silver Linings Playbook” will get its close-up next, with “Quartet” and “Song for Marion” as lingering possibilities besides. And before long, the moneymaker: “Django Unchained.” But at the fest next week, we could see the beginning of an Oscar march for Robert De Niro and some serious consideration for Terrence Stamp, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, etc. We’ll just have to see what sticks.

Warner Bros. will ride the “Argo” high from Colorado to Canada and likely won’t miss a beat, but there will also be “Cloud Atlas” to consider. It’s an interesting situation and “it’s not for everyone” seems to be the constant meme from those close to it, but the word will be out soon enough.

Focus will try “Hyde Park on Hudson” in front of a new audience after not really lighting up Telluride (despite Bill Murray’s typically cute antics around town), but there will also be a lot of attention paid to “Anna Karenina.” The film is set to open in the UK next week (Guy’s review here). As if the trailer couldn’t have clued you in, it seems to be a definite contender in design categories, with outside shots at this and that elsewhere. We’ll see if his view of the film is shared up north.

Summit Entertainment has two great offerings in “The Impossible” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” The former in particular could emerge as a significant threat in the Best Picture race with Naomi Watts joining the Best Actress conversation in stride. Fox Searchlight, meanwhile, will bring “The Sessions” to TIFF looking to continue the goodwill received eight months ago in Sundance. John Hawkes is sure to get even more glowing notices for his work in the film. And will they look to continue the Terrence Malick relationship and acquire “To the Wonder” after decent enough notices in Venice? (Guy’s review here.)

Speaking of which, there are other films still for sale, whether it’s “The Place Beyond the Pines,” “Great Expectations,” “Frances Ha” (which played very well in Telluride) and “Imogene,” among others. Will buyers looking to fill awards season gaps bite? Or will conservative studios pocket some of these for next year?

Which brings me to Sony Pictures Classics. Michael Barker and Tom Bernard came to Telluride this year with a typically heavy slate of films, but only two of them — “Amour” and “Rust & Bone” — will be 2012 releases. “At Any Price,” “The Gatekeepers,” “No” and the recently acquired “The Company You Keep” (which didn’t play Telluride but will play Toronto) have all officially been set for next year, though things could change on “The Gatekeepers” once the documentary feature category is sussed out.

Barker told me during the fest that he has high expectations for “Amour” at the Oscars, mentioning it in the same breath as “Cries & Whispers.” Indeed, it would appear Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner is in the best position to make a run for it out of the SPC stable. And it continued to play well to festival audiences in Telluride. It was frequently discussed and seemed to be one of the highlights for most.

That ought to do enough to explain some choices we’ve made in running a quick comb through the Contenders section this week. It is, as always, a shifting landscape. And in two weeks, with Toronto in the rear view and New York on the horizon, we’ll have an even clearer idea. We’ll reassess then.

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