Telluride: Weinstein Company Jumps Back Into Oscar Game With Strong 'Imitation Game' Screening

On a day chock full of World Premieres here in Telluride, The Weinstein Company which has used this festival for North American launches of The King’s Speech and The Artist, and saw both goTelluride Film Festival 2014 Lineup on to win Best Picture Oscars, just might be on to another major Best Picture contender after its first public screening of the Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game. Of course it is easy this time of year to go into just about every film that hits the Fall Festival circuit as a potential awards player after a large drought of Oscar- quality films for the first eight months of the year, but this one just has Academy Award pete_hammond_300x100nominations written all over it.  Not just in the Best Picture race where a slot seems likely, but also directing for Norwegian helmer Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), debuting screenwriter Graham Moore, and certainly the stunning lead actor performance of new Emmy winner Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, the brilliant British math nerd who cracked the code of Nazi Germany’s military maneuvers , but also led a complex, and ultimately tragic, personal life.  Also sure to get strong consideration is Keira Knightley, as good as she has ever been, as a colleague of Turing who becomes so much more.  Although she has lead billing with Cumberbatch, producers tell me they plan to put her in Supporting Actress and that seems appropriate unless the actors branch who votes on these things disagrees, but the thrust of the film is really Cumberbatch.

After the premiere screening at the packed Werner Herzog Theatre on Friday night, I moderated a 15-minute discussion with Tyldum, Moore and producers Teddy Schwarzman of Black Bear Pictures, and Bristol Automotive’s Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky. Cumberbatch was listed in the official Telluride program as coming to the festival, but I am told he couldn’t get sprung from a current production commitment. Ostrowsky and Grossman had learned of Turing’s remarkable story and optioned Andrew Hodges’ definitive biography on him.  That led to a meeting with self-confessed computer nerd and Turing aficionado Moore which resulted in his blacklisted script that not only brilliantly covers Turing’s obsessive career, but also personal travails and gives what might have been a dry story real emotional punch. Another Best Picture winner to which it could be favorably compared to is Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind, but this film seems to have article-0-18E076C100000578-398_634x490even more humanity in the way Turing’s life is portrayed. “This was a much-beloved screenplay that Hollywood studios didn’t want to make. AndThe Weinstein Company logo it was one of those opportunities where a studio  says ‘no’ and it becomes available to be made completely independently. And that’s what we did,” said Schwarzman, who described why they brought in a Norwegian director who had never made an English-language film. “We tried to find a leader who understood the thematic significance of this film, and the importance from a historical standpoint and who could hopefully provide some greater themes to the movie as far as just not all the amazing accomplishments of Alan Turning, which from our standpoint are exceptional, but also tackling the ability to be different, and to accept being different and to do great things by that self-confidence. I think when we met Morten Tyldum, he encapsulated all of that, and then we really had the beginnings of a movie.”

Tyldum said he is not particularly a fan of period films, but the theme of the importance of not following the norm and being different really won him over in taking on this project. Also drawn to the film was Harvey Weinstein who picked it up after seeing just 15-minutes of footage. “It was good to have someone coming in at that process and to push us to do a little bit more because we have lived with this story for so long,” said Ostrowsky.  Weinstein came to Telluride for the premiere, but when I asked him afterwards about it, the-imitation-gamehe really deferred to the filmmakers praising their work.  He’s obviously high on this one’s Oscar prospects  and also told me he expects big things in the awards season from the December release of Tim Burton’s Big Eyes which stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. The Imitation Game opens November 21st.  This is a significant date for Weinstein as both King’s Speech and The Artist opened the same week in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  Since both won Best Picture it looks like a good luck date for The Weinstein Company. I would be surprised if this one doesn’t firmly put them in the 2014 race.

At any rate Tyldum is happy with the Telluride debut. “It’s now off. It’s not our film anymore. Now anyone who’s seen it and talks about it, it’s their  film,” he said. Moore added that he hopes  people take from it a portrait of a completely singular and unique man. ” He was treated very badly and his life ended very sadly, but he deserves to be celebrated,” he said.

 

  1. Oh no, not another (anti) Nazi movie. How many does that make this year? about 3….does anybody really believe the American public is interested in WWII subjects?

      1. The homosexual fellow that actually won WW2 all by himself. A new, true hero in the making. “prescient and timely” yeah, lol

        1. A hero that just happens to be gay. Which is it? Gays have given much to the history of the war, but unfortunately, gayness has overshadowed their talents. Spies? Hmmmm.

    1. Hollywood has to keep its holo industry fresh in minds, along with its pro-homo agenda, this film serves both purposes.

    2. Careful, your ignorance is showing.
      What would you suggest we, the American public, be interested in? Personally, I can’t think of a single topic more important than this, considering the life we live today would not be possible without people like Alan Turning…and my grandparents. You need to read, and educate yourself.

  2. The reviews for this film are somewhat mixed, but positive overall. I kind of still think this one is not quite in the race despite the hype. I predict that this film will get 2 or less nominations, not Best Picture, and maybe not even Best Actor because that category is really strong this year. With Keaton, Carell, Spall, Pheonix, Tatum, O’Connell, Isaac, and Oyelowo, it’s hard to say The Imitation Game will compete with the stronger overall contenders.

  3. This American digs WW 1 and WW 2 films. The Imitation Game isn’t a war film in the normal sense of the word. It’s about Alan Turing, the genius, the oddball, the outsider, who was paramount in breaking the German Enigma code. He was pardoned a year ago for his “crime” of homosexuality, for which he was chemically castrated. The story is meaningful, historical, personal, and tragic. I truly hope people want to see this film.

  4. Anti-Nazi AND pro-homosexual!!! Of course, this piece of liberal junk has ‘OSCAR” written all over it…

    1. Ummm… are you trying to suggest that you, or anybody who’s opinion ‘matters’ a whit, is ‘pro-nazi’?

      And to those who say we don’t need ‘another WW2 film’, I really don’t know exactly how to respond to such silliness… as though it isn’t the most significant world event in… I dunno, all recorded history? As many great films as we’re fortunate to have about the period, it’s doubtful that even 1 in a 1000 if its stories have been committed to film.

      A picture on Turing’s life, especially, is LONG, LONG OVERDUE… and anybody who is totally uninterested in this film is someone who, frankly, isn’t really worth knowing.

    2. I agree that the Liberals & Hollywood automatically think anything GAY is great. However that does not mean the film cannot be good or even great. I look forward to viewing it so that I can make an informed decision about the quality of the film & the acting therein. I do not believe that as a society we should hold GAYS in High esteem, just as no other group should automatically be. We are all humans, some good, some bad. Being GAY or being STRAIGHT does not automatically make you one or the other. I personally find the idea of homosexuality repulsive, but that is just me. I also do not find Tattoos, facial piercings & other forms of bodily mutilations attractive. I am entitled to my opinion on that & so is everyone else. Turing was a HERO. period. NOT because he was GAY, but because he was a good human being. BUT…what happened to him only because he was GAY is what is at issue here.

  5. Whatever happened to the film weinstein was going to make to put all us pro-gun neanderthals in our place. Remember that? must still be working on it. ROTFLMFAO! wonder how they got sherlock holmes to make this movie!

  6. Firstly, reviews mean nothing. Any black, feminist or homosexual movie automatically gets a rave review. The Hollywood insiders would be shunned if they did not take up the liberal causes and mold out society into a ‘no child left behind’ equality and same society. Soon straight white men will be the only ones who can be discriminated against. Unfortunately this country gives too much credibility to the damaged Hollywood lefties, troubled liberals, and latte types.

    Secondly, Hollywood liberals will slap each other on the back, give out awards, and make more social engineering movies with Homosexuals, blacks and feminists. The award shows are nothing more than a display of the progressive talking points.

    Hollywood wants The USA To Be More Like Zimbabwe. .

  7. My the trolls are out tonight!

    It’s worth saying that Turing and his team saved the lives of many (straight) soldiers fighting in WWII, and that without his efforts, many would have been lost. I guess that counts for nothing to homophobes.

    Before you ask, I’m straight, and the notion of “liberalism” or “conservatism” meaning democratic or republican respectively is bogus. There are conservative democrats, and liberal republicans. These are only code words for discrimination, and are frequently used to stir up the old “us vs them” mentality. Note to trolls: there is no “us” and “them.” There is only US.

  8. Weinstien is the epitome of the old boys club of dying dinosaurs. Let Hollywood rot and bring in the new blood, with new ideas, new creativity and movies that don’t suck !!

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