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4
3 WKS

Toronto: 'The Judge' Opens Fest, Now Awaits Academy's Verdict

Toronto: 'The Judge' Opens Fest, Now Awaits Academy's Verdict

The 39th Toronto Film Festival got underway Thursday night with the world premiere of Warner Bros.' The Judge at Roy Thomson Hall. David Dobkin's drama stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall as a son and father who have never really gotten along, but who begin to bond when the son, a hotshot lawyer, begins representing the father, who is facing murder charges for allegedly killing a man with his car and then fleeing the scene. The film, which will be released nationwide on Oct. 10, received a warm ovation that became a standing ovation when a spotlight was shined on the film's principal talent among whom are also Vera Farmiga and Vincent D'Onofrio as the credits rolled.

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Toronto: Oscar Contenders, Start Your Engines!

Toronto: Oscar Contenders, Start Your Engines!

The 2014 Toronto Film Festival kicks off Thursday night with the world premiere of Warner Bros.' The Judge, a legal thriller directed by David Dobkin and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.

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Jon Stewart on Embracing the Film Festival Circuit, Finding Humor in Drama

Jon Stewart on Embracing the Film Festival Circuit, Finding Humor in Drama

Over the past 15 years, through his hilarious and even-handed nightly presentation of current events on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, comedian Jon Stewart has become, against all odds, the Walter Cronkite of his generation: the most trusted man in news.

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Telluride Postmortem: Some Contenders Climbed Higher, Others Lost Oxygen in Rockies

Telluride Postmortem: Some Contenders Climbed Higher, Others Lost Oxygen in Rockies

The 41st Telluride Film Festival came to an end on Monday evening. Now that I've had some time to think about what I saw there (and resume breathing normally again), I thought that it might be valuable to report on how some of the highest-profile films and people went over at the fest. This analysis factors in my own take on many of the films; impressions communicated to me by my THR colleagues Todd McCarthy, Stephen Galloway and Tim Appelo; and chatter that I heard from a wide cross-section of knowledgeable industry folks with whom I spoke during my four days in the Rockies.

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Future of Film: VFX Legend Douglas Trumbull's Plan to Save the Movies

Future of Film: VFX Legend Douglas Trumbull's Plan to Save the Movies

A version of this story appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

On a sunny August day in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Douglas Trumbull, the 72-year-old visual effects legend, welcomes me to Little Brook Farm, the sprawling 50-acre property on which he lives and works with his wife of 13 years, Julia Trumbull, as well as an assortment of free-range donkeys, goats, chickens, roosters, cats and dogs. In addition to their home and animals, the compound also houses Trumbull Studios, a 10-building, state-of-the-art filmmaking facility that was financed with his proceeds from the IPO of IMAX Corp., where he once worked. "We're not a movie lab in the sense that we process chemicals," says Trumbull of the operation. "We're a movie lab in the sense that we're looking for the future of movies."

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Telluride: 'The 50 Year Argument' Continues in the Rockies

Telluride: 'The 50 Year Argument' Continues in the Rockies

One of the great things about the Telluride Film Festival is the emphasis it places on documentary films, which annually account for a large chunk of its small slate. Perhaps this is because the great documentarians Ken Burns, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are among the fest's greatest champions — or perhaps not. Regardless, it has been a great pleasure of mine, over the four years that I have attended the fest, to catch as many of these docs as possible.

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Telluride: 'Red Army' Joins 'Keep on Keepin' On' at Top of Heap of Best Doc Oscar Contenders

Telluride: 'Red Army' Joins 'Keep on Keepin' On' at Top of Heap of Best Doc Oscar Contenders

The last film that I saw at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival was also the best film that I saw at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival, and, indeed, one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen: Gabe Polsky's Red Army, which landed in the Rockies after premiering at Cannes back in May. It received many reactions like my own at both venues and, with the enthusiastic backing of Sony Pictures Classics, which will release it later this fall, it has to be considered a co-frontrunner for the best documentary feature Oscar (along with fellow Telluride selection Keep on Keepin' On).

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Telluride: Hilary Swank Angles for Another Shot at Oscar With 'The Homesman'

Telluride: Hilary Swank Angles for Another Shot at Oscar With 'The Homesman'

Hilary Swank already has two best actress Oscars on her shelf, for Boys Don't Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), which is something that only 12 other women have ever been able to claim. But, having only just turned 40, she is not resting on her laurels. Since her second win, in 2005, she has pursued a number of projects that were clearly intended to be awards bait -- and in which she was great -- but that failed to resonate with voters: The Black Dahlia (2006), Freedom Writers (2007), Amelia (2009) and Conviction (2010).

Now, however, she is starring in a film that in no way adheres to the traditional Oscar-baiting formula, Tommy Lee Jones' western The Homesman — and she may have her best shot yet at landing her third nomination.

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Telluride: 'Foxcatcher' Lands Stateside, Trio of Actors Strongly Embraced

Telluride: 'Foxcatcher' Lands Stateside, Trio of Actors Strongly Embraced

Bennett Miller's first two feature films, Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011), were both nominated for the best picture Oscar. His third, Foxcatcher, has already garnered him the best director prize at May's Cannes Film Festival. But if Foxcatcher is to follow in the footsteps of Miller's earlier films, it will have to resonate stateside, too, which is why so much attention was paid to its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on Saturday morning.

The 134-minute film unspooled before a packed Palm Theatre — the same venue that the world premiere of Capote opened nine years ago — and, upon its conclusion, was met with a very strong ovation. Viewers seemed particularly impressed by the strong performances of the three men at the center of the film — Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo — two of whom (Tatum and Carell) have never been accorded roles of this nature or been as good as they are in this film (Ruffalo is almost always great), and all three of whom received major applause (Carell's being the loudest).

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Telluride: 'Birdman' Flies Into Fest, With Slightly Bumpier Landing Than in Venice

Telluride: 'Birdman' Flies Into Fest, With Slightly Bumpier Landing Than in Venice

The most coveted ticket at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival, so far, was easily one to Saturday night's North American premiere of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman. The genre-defying pic arrived at the Werner Herzog Theatre after opening the Venice Film Festival days earlier -- just like last year's Gravity, from Inarritu's Mexican compatriot Alfonso Cuaron -- and the rave reviews that it received overseas (several labeled it a "masterpiece") created a clamor to see it stateside. In the end, 650 lucky people got in, while hundreds more were turned away.

When the end-credits rolled, though, applause was warm but not massive, and debates between pundits immediately began about what, exactly, they had just seen. Some saw a profound critique about the decline of society's interest in art and artists and concurrently growing obsession with celebrities and superheroes. Others felt the film was merely a visually beautiful pastiche of a lot of ideas and episodes without a discernable message or point. I suspect that this debate will continue throughout the Oscar season.

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Telluride: A Film Fest That Knows How to Party

Telluride: A Film Fest That Knows How to Party

The Telluride Film Festival isn't just about screening movies. Attendees of the four-day event also find time to squeeze in a number of receptions and parties, most of which take place on Saturday afternoon and evening, and all of which feature conversation about which films are most worth seeing and which company is said to be close to acquiring something, amid other chatter and gossip. Here is a recap of this Saturday's gatherings.

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Telluride: 'Rosewater' Director Jon Stewart Receives Hero's Welcome

Telluride: 'Rosewater' Director Jon Stewart Receives Hero's Welcome

On Friday evening, Telluride Film Festival moviegoers became the first members of the public to see the fruits of the three-month hiatus that Jon Stewart took from The Daily Show in the summer of 2013 -- during which John Oliver's solo career took off -- when the world premiere of Rosewater, Stewart's feature directorial debut, unspooled at the Galaxy Theatre and was met with warm applause.

Stewart, who also penned the film's script -- which he adapted from London-based journalist Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy's 2011 book Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, about Bahari's 2009 return to his native Iran to cover the heated Ahmadinejad-Mousavi election for Newsweek and his subsequent 118-day imprisonment -- was on hand before the screening to help introduce the film and after it to participate in a Q&A alongside its star, Gael Garcia Bernal, that was moderated by journalist Mark Danner. He said he was excited to be at the fest and, judging from the applause he received, festivalgoers were clearly excited to see him.

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Telluride: Benedict Cumberbatch Leads Weinstein's 'Imitation Game' Into Oscar Fray

Telluride: Benedict Cumberbatch Leads Weinstein's 'Imitation Game' Into Oscar Fray

For a film made by Morten Tyldem, a director whom few in America have ever heard of, The Imitation Game certainly came into the Telluride Film Festival with a lot of buzz -- having Sherlock's newly-minted Emmy winner Benedict Cumberbatch as its star and marketing maven Harvey Weinstein's Weinstein Co. as its distributor certainly didn't hurt -- but it will be leaving here with even more, thanks to a very well received world premiere on Friday evening at the Werner Herzog Theatre.

Adapted by Graham Moore from Andrew Hodges' book Alan Turing: The Enigma, the history-inspired period piece drama is already being called a cross between A Beautiful Mind (2001) and The King's Speech (2010), two films that won the best picture Oscar. It's premature to predict the same outcome for The Imitation Game, but with the muscle of Weinstein (who flew out to the Rockies for the premiere) firmly behind it, it's a fairly safe bet that the film will at least be nominated for that honor -- among others.

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Telluride: Fest Kicks Off With 'Wild,' Reese Witherspoon Returns to Oscar Discussion

Telluride: Fest Kicks Off With 'Wild,' Reese Witherspoon Returns to Oscar Discussion

Fox Searchlight's Wild became the first film to screen at the 41st Telluride Film Festival this afternoon when the fest in the Rockies kicked off with its annual Patron Preview in the Chuck Jones Theatre. Among those on hand were Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir inspired Nick Hornby's script for the film; Jean-Marc Vallee, the Canadian director best known for last year's best picture Oscar nominee Dallas Buyers Club; and Reese Witherspoon, the 2006 Oscar-winning actress who plays Strayed in the film. The filmmakers were introduced before the film, which, when it ended, received polite applause.

In terms of the awards season that kicks off today, my own sense is that the nearly two-hour film — which chronicles a 1,200-mile hike that Strayed took from the Mexican border to Canada to try to come to peace with her dark personal past and the recent loss of her mother — has its best shot at garnering recognition in the best actress Oscar category, thanks to a formidable performance by Witherspoon. The A-lister is on screen for virtually every minute of it, usually by herself, and does the sort of "brave" work — as in physically demanding, risque and not at all glamorous — to which the Academy has always responded. It's nice to see her really pushing herself again, after an up-and-down run since Walk the Line nine years ago.

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