Welcome to the Telluride Film Festival, Your Oscar Race Crucible

For better or worse, Telluride is the real start of the Oscar conversation.

Sure, Sundance launched “Colette” and “Wildlife” and a raft of strong documentaries, and Cannes yielded a rich crop of likely foreign-language contenders, but all these films must withstand a powerful riptide of Oscar-bound movies with massive awards campaigns behind them.

Distributors don’t head for Telluride if they aren’t confident that their entries will emerge with buzz and momentum heading into Toronto.Just how did Telluride become such a crucible? Aren’t the strongest movies also opening in Venice? Sure, Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” (Universal) starring Ryan Gosling as moon-lander Neil Armstrong has already emerged with raves on the order of his prior Oscar-winners “Whiplash” and “La La Land,” but the real conversation will be had when a larger number of film critics and awards pundits weigh in up in the mountains of Colorado.Netflix

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