×

Early Oscar Buzz: ’12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Prisoners’ Rock Telluride

Pair of dramas provoke powerful reactions

The 40th edition of the Telluride Film Festival has provided solid awards-season launches for  “12 Years a Slave” and “Prisoners” — both last-minute additions to the lineup as “sneak” screenings.

12 Years a Slave,” the 19th century real-life drama from Fox Searchlight, produced a standing ovation and rave reviews on Friday night.

Director Steve McQueen and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt attended a Q and A after the film.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen the film, and honestly, I’m a little taken aback,” said Fassbender, who has collaborated with McQueen on “Hunger” and “Shame.”

“I think it might be more productive if we all just had a group walk around the block or something,” Pitt added.

But it was Ejiofor who drew the most praise with Oscar pundits, some already putting the actor down as the front-runner to win Best Oscar this awards season.

Variety’s Peter Debruge said of his performance, “Though the film brims with memorable characters, the show ultimately belongs to Ejiofor, who upholds the character’s dignity throughout.”

As for “Prisoners,” Variety’s Scott Foundas called it “a spellbinding, sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center.”

The “Prisoners” screening did not include stars Hugh Jackman or Jake Gyllenhall, Director Denis Villeneuve and producers Kira Davis, Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, and Adam Kolbrenner attended a Q and A, where  Villeneuve indicated Jackman had expressed initial reservations about taking on the role as an angry father trying to punish the suspected abductor (played by Paul Dano) of his daughter and another girl.

Unlike the Venice and Toronto fests, Telluride organizers opt for a straightforward presentation without red carpets or awards competitions and the organizers refuse to tout any title as a “premiere.” So the official premieres of both “Prisoners” and “12 Years” will take place next week in Toronto on Sept. 6.

Warner Bros.’ “Prisoners” will open Sept. 20. Gyllenhaal portrays the police detective.

Despite the relative lack of fanfare, Telluride’s seen an impressive list of awards contenders in recent years, serving as the awards-season launching pad for “Argo,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Descendants,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Juno,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “The Last King of Scotland.”

SEE ALSO: Telluride Film Festival Unveils Eclectic Lineup

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    'Angel Has Fallen' to Dominate Modest Box Office With $20 Million Weekend

    Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are leading the way at the North American box office with “Angel Has Fallen” on its way to about $20 million, early estimates showed Friday. Should forecasts hold, “Angel Has Fallen” will take in about double the next title, Universal’s second weekend of raunchy comedy “Good Boys” with about $10 [...]

  • Aracne

    Sanfic Standout ‘Aracne’ Filmmakers Discuss the State of Chilean Genre

    A key project at this year’s Santiago Lab, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival industry forum for promising Latin American projects, Florencia Dupont’s “Aracne” is representative of a push from the next generation of Chilean filmmakers into genre cinema and the themes it can explore. “Aracne” turns on Beatriz, a young journalist at a small Santiago [...]

  • Eduardo Machuca

    Chile’s Eduardo Machuca Unveils Machuca Films Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile – Eduardo Machuca, the former film co-ordinator of Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has launched his own production company, Machuca Films. “After 25 years at the ministry, I felt I needed to tap my creative side,” said Machuca, who is also tying the knot on Saturday (Aug. 24) with a former Sanfic staffer, [...]

  • Robert Downey Jr. Disney Legends Ceremony,

    Robert Downey Jr. Reveals He Was Busted for Smoking Pot at Disneyland

    Robert Downey Jr. celebrated his Disney Legend status by sharing the endearing tale of how the first time he visited Disneyland, he was arrested. The Iron Man actor was being honored in Anaheim at Disney’s biennial D23 convention. After a brief introduction by Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger, Downey felt he had to come [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content