Alexander Payne, Joe Wright, Guillermo Del Toro, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Scott Cooper, Angelina Jolie, Greta Gerwig and Todd Haynes are among the directors taking the films to the Telluride Film Festival this year.

The festival, which always holds its cards close to the vest until the eve of the annual Rocky Mountain movie orgy — and which has become a strong bellwether for Oscar season with several Best Picture winners first showing there at the official launch of awards season — looks to have several major contenders in the lineup just released this morning.

As I previously speculated, Telluride will be hosting unofficial world premieres (they don’t label them that way, but that’s what they are) for Wright’s Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in a surefire Oscar-bait performance. That film from Focus Features will have two screenings right off the bat as the fest officially opens Friday night. It will compete for attention tomorrow night with another premiere of Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird. Fox Searchlight will be debuting Battle Of The Sexes, its Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs grudge match movie from Little Miss Sunshine directors Dayton and Faris, and there will also be a first look at director Paul McGuigan’s Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool with Annette Bening expected to be a strong Oscar contender for playing Oscar winner Gloria Grahame.

Battle Of The Sexes
Battle Of The Sexes
Fox Searchlight

Among those films coming straight from their Venice debuts are Payne’s Downsizing; Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water; Andrew Haigh’s Lean On Pete; and Paul Schrader’s offbeat First Reformed. 

Cooper’s Hostiles is not only premiering first in Telluride, but also is one of the rare titles for sale at this festival, which is definitely not a market but often discovers worthy films looking for distribution — such was the case with last year’s wonderful documentary California Typewriter, which has just started its theatrical run. Hostiles star Christian Bale will be in Telluride for a tribute as well. Another tributee is cinematographer Ed Lachman, whose Wonderstruck from Haynes first was seen in Cannes and gets its North American premiere in Colorado.

Other Cannes refugees include Sony Pictures Classics’ The Rider from director Chloe Zhao and the Russian prize-winner Loveless. There will be plenty of other foreign-language Oscar hopefuls on display including Lebanon’s The Insult and Chile’s transgender drama Fantastic Woman which also comes from Sony Classics. Jolie will be on hand to present the North American premiere of her Cambodian film First They Killed My Father which will launch on Netflix after Jolie finishes the fall fest circuit. On the animated front is the stunning Loving Vincent, which was painstakingly hand drawn in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. Francis Ford Coppola will be presenting his long-gestating directors cut of the troubled 1984 film The Cotton Club. Telluride regular Ken Burns also shows up with an hour of his upcoming epic documentary on Vietnam.

Natalie Portman

Many stars are expected along with the filmmakers including Natalie Portman who will be appearing as a producer of the documentary Eating Animals. That movie will be having a reception where you can be assured they won’t be serving meat. There will be lots of the usual parties as well including the annual bash thrown by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I will be covering all Labor Day weekend.

Here is the complete lineup below:

  • ARTHUR MILLER: WRITER (d. Rebecca Miller, U.S., 2017)
  • BATTLE OF THE SEXES (d. Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton, U.S., 2017)
  • DARKEST HOUR (d. Joe Wright, U.K., 2017)
  • DOWNSIZING (d. Alexander Payne, U.S., 2017)
  • EATING ANIMALS (d. Christopher Quinn, U.S., 2017)
  • FACES PLACES (d. Agnes Varda, JR, France, 2017)
  • A FANTASTIC WOMAN (d. Sebastián Lelio, Chile-U.S.-Germany-Spain, 2017)
  • FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL (d. Paul McGuigan, U.K., 2017)
  • FIRST REFORMED (d. Paul Schrader, U.S., 2017)
  • FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER (d. Angelina Jolie, U.S.-Cambodia, 2017)
  • FOXTROT (d. Samuel Maoz, Israel, 2017)
  • HOSTAGES (d. Rezo Gigineishvili, Georgia-Russia-Poland, 2017)
  • HOSTILES (d. Scott Cooper, U.S., 2017)
  • HUMAN FLOW (d. Ai Weiwei, U.S.-Germany, 2017)
  • THE INSULT (d. Ziad Doueiri, France-Lebanon, 2017)
  • LADY BIRD (d. Greta Gerwig, U.S., 2017)
  • LAND OF THE FREE (d. Camilla Magid, Denmark-Finland, 2017)
  • LEAN ON PETE (d. Andrew Haigh, U.K.-U.S., 2017)
  • LOVELESS (d. Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia-France-Belgium-Germany, 2017)
  • LOVE, CECIL (d. Lisa Immordino Vreeland, U.S., 2017)
  • LOVING VINCENT (d. Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, U.K.-Poland, 2017)
  • A MAN OF INTEGRITY (d. Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2017)
  • THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (d. Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 2017)
  • THE RIDER (d. Chloé Zhao, U.S., 2017)
  • THE SHAPE OF WATER (d. Guillermo del Toro, U.S., 2017)
  • TESNOTA (d. Kantemir Balagov, Russia, 2017)
  • THE VENERABLE W. (d. Barbet Schroeder, France-Switzerland, 2017)
  • THE VIETNAM WAR (d. Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, U.S., 2017)
  • WORMWOOD (d. Errol Morris, U.S., 2017)
  • WONDERSTRUCK (d. Todd Haynes, U.S., 2017)

Two documentary shorts, HEROIN(E) (d. Elaine McMillion Sheldon, U.S., 2017) and LONG SHOT (d. Jacob LaMendola, U.S., 2017) will also play together in the main program.