UPDATED with latest: The Telliride Film Festival began August 31 with a lineup for the Rockies event’s 50th edition that included world premieres of Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers (Focus Features), Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn (Amazon) and Free Solo filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s narrative feature Nyad (Netflix).
Deadline was on the ground to watch all the key films. Below is a compilation of our reviews from the fest, which also include Rustin, All of Us Strangers, The Bikeriders and more.
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Director: Andrew Haigh
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Cast: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy
Deadline’s takeaway: The film asks a lot of questions, but the answers are not supplied easily. It is a challenging work as much of Andrew Haigh’s character-driven filmography often is, but one that offers rich rewards if you sign on to it at all.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Distributor: 20th Century Films
Cast: Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Mike Faist, Boyd Holbrook, Damon Herrman, Beau Knapp, Emory Cohen, Toby Wallace, Norman Reedus, Karl Glusman
Deadline’s takeaway: Although there are many vivid and graphically bloody scenes along the way, ultimately this is a portrait of changing times, our collective need for connection and the complications therein. It is the code of the Old West as it meets the new.
Director: Christy Hall
Cast: Sean Penn, Dakota Johnson
Deadline’s takeaway: Debuting writer-director Christy Hall has created a marvelous two-hander between a veteran New York cabbie who’s seen it all and a young woman trying to figure things out.
Director: Alexander Payne
Distributor: Focus Features
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa, Carrie Preston, Tate Donovan, Gillian Vigman, Andrew Garman, Naheem Garcia
Deadline’s takeaway: Thank god for Alexander Payne. No startling story twists here — just the stuff of everyday lives with people thrown together by circumstances they have to make the best of. And perfect casting.
Director: Annie Baker
Cast: Zoe Ziegler, Julianne Nicholson, Will Patton, Sophie Okonedo, Elias Koteas
Deadline’s takeaway: Janet Planet is both disarming and odd, a film both lovely for its observational aptitude and at times mildly annoying in its smarty-pants conversational cleverness. Whatever else you can say, it’s an absolute original.
Director: Pawo Choyning Dorji
Cast: Tandin Wangchuk, Pema Zangpo Sherpa, Tandin Sonam, Kelsang Choejey, Deki Lhamo, Harry Einhorn, Choeying Jatsho, Tandin Phubz, Ugyen Dorji
Deadline’s takeaway: Pawo Choyning Dorji’s second film, following Oscar-nominated Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, should see the director back at the Dolby Theatre come March. No sophomore jinx here, this one is even better than his first, and that is saying something.
Directors: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Cast: Annette Bening, Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans, Ethan Jones Romero, Luke Cosgrove, Jeena Yi, Eric T. Miller
Deadline’s takeaway: Nyad has something in common with Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, which premiered in Venice. Neither movie is a traditional biopic about their title subject, but rather a movie with a singular focus that digs much deeper into the weeds to discover what drove them and made them who they were.
Director: Errol Morris
Distributor: Apple TV+
Deadline’s takeaway: In Morris’ latest documentary, a very agreeable balance is achieved, one which sees both men live up to their reputations as very smart fellows who could never be pressured into spilling any beans.
Director: George C. Wolfe
Cast: Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, Jeffrey Wright, Audra McDonald
Deadline’s takeaway: This exhilarating biographical drama is a film for anyone remotely interested in the issues of the time, and Colman Domingo should emerge as a star on the basis of his performance as he blows through the title role like a force of nature.
Director: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Alison Oliver, Archie Madekwe, and Carey Mulligan
Deadline’s takeaway: What’s notable here is Emerald Fennell’s undeniable, perhaps even insatiable desire to pack everything she can think of into the film, to propel the urgency, determinism and undeniable life force that is evident throughout.
Director: Daina O. Pusic
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Leah Harvey, Arinze Kene
Deadline’s takeaway: Tuesday, featuring a strong dramatic turn from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a stunning feature debut from Pusic, becomes a wrenching mother-daughter story, a heartbreaking story of letting go, spirituality, faith, and coming to terms with yourself.
Director: Ethan Hawke
Cast: Maya Hawke, Laura Linney, Philip Ettinger, Rafael Casal, Steve Zahn, Cooper Hoffman, Willa Fitzgerald, Alessandro Nivola, Vincent D’Onofrio
Deadline’s takeaway: There’s no question that Wildcat is a small, narrowly focused work that will be of interest mainly to college literature students, Southern academics and particular female writers. But kudos to Hawke for putting even a small spotlight on this singular American writer.
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