‘Imitation Game’ wins the festival and 7 other takeaways from Telluride 2014

TELLURIDE – The 41st Annual Telluride Film Festival is over, and as noted by HitFix's own Kris Tapley, it has provided an important awards season kickoff for films such as “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game,” “Wild,” “Rosewater” and “Foxcatcher.” Even with the recent star power of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Telluride has been able to hang on to its singular charms as a non-red carpet, low-key, cinephile event (even if there were two new Canadian journalists on hand to check everything out and report back to the motherland).  



Yes, much to the chagrin of the Telluride organizers, the TIFF vs. Telluride (vs. Venice) story just won't go away. Even festival regulars who have attended for decades gossiped about how they couldn't believe how much press the story had gotten. Happily, it wasn't the only takeaway from another beautiful festival in the Colorado mountains.

'The Imitation Game' is the festival crowd-pleaser
There is no question about it: Morten Tyldum's “Imitation Game” won the 2014 Telluride Film Festival. This pundit may have significant problems with the ending (not Cumberbatch, mind you), but it had to be the favorite film of at least nine out of 10 people spoken to. That's great news for The Weinstein Company, which could have a sleeper hit on its hands (not to mention a likely Best Picture nominee).

No middle ground in theaters
Like Sundance, Telluride has a slight problem with a number of large venues to handle the more anticipated movies and a number of smaller 140-150 seat venues for the rest of the programming. The problem is that often unexpected buzzworthy titles get relegated to the smaller venues for all of their screenings (this year, “Wild Tales,” a few years ago, “A Separation”), which means many regular pass holders can't get in unless they can stay until Tuesday morning (in fact, a “Wild Tales” screening added to a large theater Monday night). Granted, you can't see every movie at every film festival (well, maybe the main Cannes slates you can), but Telluride is supposed to come close. Throwing a few more late night screenings into the mix might alleviate the problem.

Steve Carell rules Telluride
Yes, lots of people wanted to say hello to Channing Tatum, Reese Witherspoon and Jon Stewart as they walked through town. That being said, Tatum's “Foxcatcher” co-star Steve Carell ruled the weekend, and he probably didn't even know it. Case in point, with notables such as Hilary Swank, Mike Leigh, Gael García Bernal, Witherspoon and Stewart in attendance, Carell was clearly the most popular person at the annual patron kick-off picnic. He actually had so many well wishers I'd guess he probably walked no more than 50 feet in the entire party space (I hope someone brought him an omelette).

Sometimes a Telluride movie isn't a Telluride movie
It happens at every festival. A movie filmmakers or studios think is a perfect fit just doesn't play as well as they would hope. There were no disasters this year (“Inside Llewyn Davis” was close in 2013), but there were often only polite comments about some films (“Foxcatcher,” and, surprisingly, “Mommy”) and barely a trickle about others (“Mr. Turner,” “The Homesman”).