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Oscar Watching: No Imitating at Telluride

Reese Witherspoon vehicle Wild – helmed by Jean-Marc Vallée – may have kicked off the Telluride Film Festival – and ignited buzz for the actress and co-star Laura Dern – but Morten Tyldum’s WWII drama The Imitation Game emerged as the real story of the fest. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as mathematician Alan Turing and Keira Knightley as friend Joan Clarke, the two should pick up nods in actor and supporting actress, respectively, for what’s already considered some of their best work to date; debut screenwriter Graham Moore and the film itself should get bids, while Tyldum might find himself in the director race.

And Alejandro González Iñárritu’s satire Birdman kicked off the Venice Film Festival and also hit Telluride – and picked up strong reception at both fests. Look for Michael Keaton to be a major player in the actor race; Emma Stone and Edward Norton should land supporting bids for their work. Iñárritu can break into the director lineup, while the script he wrote with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo should land an original screenplay bid.

Telluride also screened Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher – already a hit at Cannes that may have needed this little boost after movies like Imitation and Birdman came onto the scene. Steve Carell and Channing Tatum will contend for leading nods; Mark Ruffalo will campaign for a supporting bid. Distributor Sony Pictures Classics, by the way, has decided to push E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman’s script as an original screenplay. (In other campaign news, Fox Searchlight will push Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness’ script for The Grand Budapest Hotel as an original screenplay, too.)

Foxcatcher, Imitation, and Wild will also screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off tonight with David Dobkin’s father-son drama The Judge, led by Robert Downey Jr. as a big-city lawyer and featuring Robert Duvall as his distant father. Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children with Jennifer Garner,Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler; Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent with Melissa McCarthy, Bill Murray, and Naomi Watts; and James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything with Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, among others, will have their official premieres at the fest – and will either emerge as contenders or reveal themselves to be non-starters – by this time next week.

Before jumping into this week’s picks, the BFI London Film Festival announced its lineup; Susanne Bier’s Serena makes for what might be the most interesting inclusion, if only for the confirmation that the Depression-era drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper exists beyond production stills.

Remember, I’m only predicting films set for U.S. distribution for nominations, but my overall lists still include films that might lack U.S. distribution at the moment. And in the name of shameless self-promo, you can check out more detailed Oscar musings over at my blog, Awards and Such. Keep in mind that my predictions there and on Screen Invasion might differ, given that I will update both at different times – I’ll update my Screen Invasion picks once a week; I’ll most likely update my blog picks at different intervals.

The big contenders of the year are…

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Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.