They don’t call it the awards gauntlet for nothing. Foxcatcher, Mommy and The Homesman. Word on the street here in Telluride is that this crowd likes these films as much, if not more so, than the Cannes crowd did. That’s because festival goers in Telluride aren’t media or critics. They are film lovers. They come here to see good stuff and have a good time. That might be one of the best barometers for the Oscars until the industry starts voting.

Foxcatcher emerged as strong, if not stronger, than it did at Cannes. The presence here of Steve Carell and Channing Tatum certainly helped. But the critics who hadn’t yet seen Foxcather felt it and very much loved it. Foxcatcher is another brilliant work by Bennett Miller, who keeps it a slow burn and a character study on three men caught in a triangle. Funny and weird, it scratches at something, a hum many of us here in America also hear. Any film with acting this good, with such a strong central male performance is going to do very well in the Best Picture race.

As the young Xavier Dolan makes his way down the main street he is continually approached by festival goers who tell him how much they loved Mommy. Many of them have never seen any of his work so this was their first taste. His film went over so well with the crowd here that it could bode well for its chances for foreign language film. At 25, Dolan stands out amid the majority of filmmakers here, most of whom are in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Finally, the Hilary Swank tribute was held opposite the Birdman screening, which meant many of us didn’t make it. But word has it there was a standing ovation by this non-press crowd for the film and for Swank. While The Homesman might not have been the critics darling out of Cannes, it is proving to an affecting and involving films for audiences overall. Swank delivers another brilliant performance, which is perhaps second only to her Oscar-winning turn in Boys Don’t Cry. In one of the few films to focus on the women’s story during the settling of the west, Swank was the embodiment of that fragile strength, that ambition that had nowhere to go without a husband attached. Overall, Cannes and now Telluride have delivered some slam dunks with strong performances by women.

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