A couple of films have touched down in Telluride over the last two days, including Jason Reitman's Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, based on the novel by Joyce Maynard. Early reactions are mixed-positive, describing the film as a tearjerker melodrama with good performances, and a departure in tone for Reitman, usually known for snarky comedies like Juno and Thank You For Smoking. Oscar chances are unclear on this one, so we'll have to wait for the official release and reviews to know more, but its best bet seems to be Kate Winslet at the moment. The movie comes out Dec 25th (oddly, there's no trailer for this yet).
"To the extent that Adele's hunger for affection resonates with audiences, what emerges is a powerful- if implausible- romance." (Variety)
"A full-immersion exercise in the old-fashioned women's weepie that skews far closer to Nicholas Sparks' brand of contrivance than Diablo Cody territory." (The Playlist)
"As consistently assured a piece of film-making as any we've seen from Reitman." (HitFix)
Faring better was Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, which premiered to stunning reviews and a standing ovation. Claims are that it portrays slavery as never before, with unrelenting brutality and emotion from the performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. Some compare it to a horror film that refuses to let you turn away from its sights. Oscar nominations seem assured, but I'm wary about the violence, which sounds pretty harsh. This is not brutality leavened with comedy ala Django Unchained, or a feelgood movie in any sense (If you've seen Shame you know this guy can be bleak). I have a feeling that will limit its box office and Oscar potential, but the movie will be a surefire contender with nominations in Picture, Director, and below-the-line categories, with Ejiofor sounding like a lock for Best Actor.
"Had Steve McQueen not already christened his previous picture thus, 'Shame' would have been the perfect one-word title to capture the gut-wrenching impact of his third and most essential feature, '12 Years a Slave.'" (Variety)
"More than a powerful elegy, '12 Years a Slave' is a mesmerizing triumph of art and polemics: McQueen turns a topic rendered distant by history into an experience that, short of living through the terrible era it depicts, makes you feel as if you've been there...Ejiofor is a lock for Best Performance in the Oscar race, as is McQueen and his movie." (Indiewire)
"McQueen has no fear of depicting the true savagery thrust upon American slaves by their owners. He won't flinch in holding on the image, even if it's graphically disturbing. Slavery was an inhumane evil that McQueen refuses to turn away from." (HitFix)
Here's the trailer for the movie once again. It comes out Oct 18th: