Movie fans trekking to Telluride, Colo., for the resort town's annual film festival this weekend are set to see some of the fall's most anticipated performances, including Bill Murray as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson," Michael Shannon as family man and freelance assassin in "The Iceman," and Ben Affleck as a CIA agent in "Argo."
Other high-profile titles screening at the festival, which opens Friday, include "Ginger and Rosa," filmmaker Sally Potter's coming-of-age drama with Elle Fanning; "Midnight's Children," director Deepa Mehta's adaptation of the novel by Salman Rushdie, who wrote the screenplay; and "Frances Ha," a black-and-white look at a young dancer directed by "The Squid and the Whale" filmmaker Noah Baumbach and co-written by and starring his girlfriend, Greta Gerwig.
The festival also will present several films that garnered strong acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May and are seen as early Oscar contenders: director Michael Haneke's end-of-life story "Amour" and Jacques Audiard's "Rust & Bone," a romance starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Cotillard is being honored in Telluride with a special tribute program.
Also being feted at the festival is Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who stars in two films coming to Telluride: "The Hunt," in which he plays a kindergarten teacher's assistant whose life disintegrates after being unjustly accused of child molestation, and "A Royal Affair," in which he takes on the role of a physician who has an affair with the queen of Denmark. Mikkelsen won the best actor prize in Cannes for his performance in "The Hunt."
As a contrast to the art house reverie, B-movie pioneer Roger Corman will be the subject of a two-film tribute: "Masque of the Red Death," one of his Edgar Allan Poe films starring Vincent Price, and "The Intruder," featuring William Shatner as a white supremacist. Corman is set to appear in person.
"Argo" will officially have its world premiere next week at the Toronto International Film Festival, so the screening in Telluride is being billed as a sneak peek. Affleck directed the film, which is based on a true story about Hollywood's role in rescuing a small group of Americans who were caught up in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Telluride programmers say they don't select their titles with an eye toward the Oscars, but the festival has helped launch numerous Academy Award winners and nominees over the years, including "The Descendants," "The King's Speech," "Black Swan," "Slumdog Millionaire," "The Artist" and "A Separation."
Here's a closer look at some of the most anticipated titles of the festival:
"At Any Price." An Iowa farmer (Dennis Quaid) who isn't a paragon of honesty struggles to keep his land and his family (his son is played by Zac Efron) intact, in a drama directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani ("Goodbye Solo").
"Love, Marilyn." Directed by documentarian Liz Garbus ("The Farm: Angola, USA"), this film brings Marilyn Monroe's diary entries to life through readings by Elizabeth Banks, Glenn Close, Evan Rachel Wood, Lindsay Lohan and Uma Thurman, among others.
"The Gatekeepers." This documentary examines Shin Bet, Israel's internal security organization, and features interviews with former leaders who repudiate the agency's tactics and Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
"Stories We Tell." Filmmaker-actor Sarah Polley ("Away From Her") uses old home movies to investigate her family's history in a project that's purported to be a documentary but may push the edges of the nonfiction envelope.
"Midnight's Children." Adapted by Salman Rushdie from his sprawling, semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, the drama directed by Deepa Mehta ("Water") focuses on a young man (Satya Bhabha) switched at birth into a life of privilege.
"The Sapphires." Part musical and part comedy, Australian director Wayne Blair's movie follows the four members of an Aboriginal singing group who travel from obscurity to fame, with a stop at the Vietnam War along the way. The movie stars indigenous singer Jessica Mauboy.
"Frances Ha." Directed by Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") and co-written by and starring his girlfriend, Greta Gerwig ("Greenberg"), the black-and-white movie examines a young dancer balancing work and life in New York City.
"Hyde Park on the Hudson." Bill Murray plays Franklin D. Roosevelt in this look at the 1939 meeting between the president and England's King George VI (Samuel West). Directed by Roger Michell ("Notting Hill"), the film co-stars Laura Linney and Olivia Williams.
"The Iceman." Inspired by the life of Richard Kuklinski, a prolific assassin by day and devoted family man by night, director Ariel Vromen's drama examines the intersection of rage and responsibility. Michael Shannon leads a cast that includes Winona Ryder, Chris Evans and Ray Liotta.
"Ginger and Rosa." Directed and written by Sally Potter ("Orlando"), the coming-of-age story stars Elle Fanning and newcomer Alice Englert (the daughter of director Jane Campion) in a love story set against the Cuban Missile Crisis.
"Central Park Five"
Documentarian Ken Burns has partnered with his daughter, Sarah Burns, and her husband, David McMahon, to examine the controversial Central Park jogger rape case from 1989. Five black and Latino teens with no prior criminal records were convicted of sexually assaulting an investment banker, only to have their sentences overturned in 2002 after extensive prison terms. Sarah Burns last year published a book about the case and its aftermath, "The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding." The film premiered earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival.
Filmmaker Michael Haneke directs this story of an octogenarian couple, retired music teachers, whose daughter lives abroad. One day the daughter has an attack that severely tests the couple's bond of love. The film stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant. The film premiered at Cannes.
"Rust and Bone"
Jacques Audiard ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped," "A Prophet") brings his latest project to Telluride, a drama about a poor single father (Matthias Schoenaerts) whose connection with a killer whale trainer (Oscar winner Marion Cotillard) ultimately changes her life. The film premiered at Cannes.
In this new film from Michael Winterbottom, Shirley Henderson plays a single mom caring for four small children while her husband serves a prison sentence.
Directed by Chile's Pablo Larrain, best known for his previous film "Tony Manero," "No" centers on a little-remembered event in his country's recent history: In 1988, after 15 years of authoritarian rule, Chilean voters head to the polls to vote on the future of dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Ad man Rene Saavedra, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, is determined to bring down the ruler with a masterful media campaign.
Writer-director Christian Petzold tells the story of a doctor (Nina Hoss) exiled to an East German provincial backwater in 1980. Her crime: attempting to emigrate.
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