Notes From Telluride: Will A24’s Oscar Streak Continue With ‘Lady Bird’?


The 44th Annual Telluride Film Festival winds down later today. All the World and North American premieres have happened and now we’re just playing catch up before heading back to L.A. tonight, with one day off before heading to the Toronto Film Festival where many of the movies on display this weekend in Colorado are headed.

Yesterday was A24 Day in Telluride for me when I caught up with both Andrew Haigh’s Lean On Pete direct from Venice, and Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Birdwhich has been one of the big hits at this fest ever since its Friday night World Premiere. After a few screenings, Gerwig said she was introducing her last for the fest Sunday night and that she’s cried through each one. “I just wish I could bring everyone who had anything to do with the movie – lawyers, accountants, crew – right up here with me. And the Telluride audiences have been so wonderful I think I just want to stop now and never show it to anyone else,” she said.

That of course won’t happen if A24 has anything to say about it since they plan to open it November 10th and go wide for Thanksgiving.


I have to concur with the general consensus that this movie is a solid gold winning film directorial debut, with Saoirse Ronan’s lead role as a senior Catholic high school student trying to get as far away from her Sacramento home and less-than-supportive mother as she can. That mother is played by Laurie Metcalf, a recent Tony winner for A Doll’s House Part II, and if there is any justice in the world certain to be a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for her wickedly funny and real performance as a mom who can’t say anything nice about her daughter. She just nails this in every way possible but it is no caricature. I can’t say enough about the cast, including Tracy Letts as the understanding dad, young actors including Lucas Hedges (a recent Oscar nominee for Manchester By The Sea), Timothee Chalamet (whose career is about to explode in Call Me By Your Name, and is also in Hostiles here) and Beanie Feldstein as the bff Jules.

Last year there was a great film about a teen girl called The Edge Of Seventeen. It deserved to be a hit but wasn’t. I am hoping the same fate doesn’t befall Lady Bird, that perhaps a more Juno-like future lies in store, and in the hands of the sharp upstart A24, which has used Telluride in recent years to launch Oscar winners Room and Moonlight. I think this Lady Bird can – and should – fly high.

A24’s David Fenkel told me about their whole slate outside of Telluride including Lean On Pete, which is a very fine study of a 16 year old boy played beautifully by Charlie Plummer (to be seen this season in Ridley Scott’s Tri-Star drama All the Money In The World), who is adrift and hooks up with a failing racehorse named Lean On Pete. It is heartbreaking in many ways, but never sentimental. It’s cinematic equivalent probably harkens back to Francois Truffaut’s landmark study of a troubled youth The 400 Blows. Despite all the fest exposure Fenkel says the company will hold this one for 2018.

A24 already has another great movie out of Cannes for October, Sean Baker’s wondrous The Florida Project,  Yorgas Lathimos’ The Killing Of  A Sacred Deer (also out of Cannes and not exactly the feel good movie of the year), and James Franco’s riff on cult movie The Room called The Disaster Artist, the latter having its premiere at midnight Monday September 11 in Toronto, and which A24 picked up from New Line/Warner Bros after its work-in-progress screening at South By Southwest.

New Academy President John Bailey came into town for the festival with wife/film editor Carol Littleton, who is also an Academy Governor. They were at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ annual cocktail party here late Saturday afternoon, which ended just as a torrential downpour hit Telluride’s main drag. Bailey, a great cinematographer and true film aficionado if ever there was one, told me he was catching the films here that he couldn’t see anywhere else such as the virtually unseen 1929 silent movie Such Is Life; 1995’s  Salam Cinema; and the documentary curio, Hitler’s Hollywood.  

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

While I was racing around trying to see this year’s potential contenders, the new Academy President was celebrating the true “Arts & Sciences” of movies on display here for the crowd’s true cineastes. He even hopes to start an Academy sponsored series of impossible-to-find silent films. Now wouldn’t that be great?

Speaking of classic films, Angelina Jolie, who was here with her moving Cambodian film First They Killed My Father, talked classic monster films when I asked her if it was true that she was going to be starring in Universal’s next attempt to revive their monster movie legacy, The Bride Of Frankenstein. She said she was likely doing Disney’s Maleficent 2 instead but thought an Avengers-style movie with all of Universal’s signature monsters, including that Bridewould be something really to get excited about. Now that’s an intriguing thought, but don’t hold your breath.

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