×

Telluride: Where Will Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’ Land?

TELLURIDE, Colo. — It’s rare for there to be a hot acquisitions title in the Telluride lineup poised to make a mark on awards season, but Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles” fits the bill. The “Black Mass” director has returned with a potent, muscular western — made with an independent spirit outside the studio system — that has prospective buyers circling, as they have been for weeks. On a wave of positive critical notices coming out of the fest, Cooper and the film’s producers, John Lesher and Ken Kao, could have a lot more leverage than they did a few days ago.

“We just want someone who loves the movie,” Lesher said at a private dinner event for the film Sunday night. “It’s nice to be in that position [to be able to pick and choose].”

Part of the fuss is a jaw-dropping performance from Christian Bale that easily ranks among the greatest he’s given, one that could become an instant Oscar contender in the right hands. It seems Cooper is uniquely capable of drawing out Bale’s very best work, as the actor’s performances in both “Hostiles” and 2013’s “Out of the Furnace” are natural, unfussy efforts that stand in direct contrast to some of the showier (though no less brilliant) portrayals he’s come to be known for.

Cooper helped usher Jeff Bridges to his first Oscar eight years ago for “Crazy Heart,” while Johnny Depp’s critically lauded work in “Black Mass” landed the embattled star a Screen Actors Guild nomination. And with Bale packing on the pounds (as well as sporting bleached eyebrows) for his portrayal of Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s upcoming political drama “Backseat,” audiences and Oscar voters would be staring at empirical evidence throughout the season of the actor’s staggering range. Indeed, Bale received a Telluride tribute this year that does a great job of showcasing that range.

“That was weird,” the notoriously private actor quipped at the dinner. It’s rare for him to agree to that sort of pageantry.

Also a stand-out is Rosamund Pike as a forthright woman who violently suffers loss in the film’s opening moments. Masanobu Takayanagi’s beautiful landscape photography and expressive interior lighting further establish the cinematographer as Cooper’s vital secret weapon, while Max Richter’s elegiac score adds considerably to the emotional heft of the picture. Nominations for all are on the table. But, again, it depends on who acquires the film.

Everyone from Annapurna Pictures to Netflix is rumored to be in the mix, and it’s clear Tom Bernard and Michael Barker at Sony Pictures Classics are interested, too, as they could be seen wooing Cooper at the annual Patrons Brunch Friday morning. None of the sales agents are in town, however, and Telluride isn’t an acquisitions festival anyway, so don’t expect any movement until Toronto, perhaps as early as next week.

“Honestly, I just make them,” Cooper told me. “It’s that experience that is most meaningful to me. I believe in the movie. Whatever comes will be.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” The once-and-always Greek was not just in San Sebastian to [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

  • Jonathan Van NessLos Angeles Beautycon, Portrait

    Jonathan Van Ness Reveals HIV Diagnosis, Former Drug Addiction

    “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness is getting vulnerable in his new memoir “Over the Top.” In a preview of his book with the New York Times, Van Ness opened up about his early struggles with sex and drug addiction as well as his experience with sexual assault, revealing that he was abused by an older [...]

  • 4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Dominating 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo' With $31 Million Opening

    “Downton Abbey” is heading for a positively brilliant opening weekend after scoring $13.8 million in domestic ticket sales on Friday. If estimates hold, the feature film version of the popular British television show should take home approximately $31 million come Sunday, marking the biggest opening ever for distributor Focus Features and beating previous record holder [...]

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content