The four-day-long Telluride Film Festival draws to a close today. The major titles to come out of it are worth standing up and paying attention to given the festival's history of hosting seven of the last eight best picture winners, including 12 Years a Slave, Argo, Birdman and Moonlight.

Some of these titles you’ll be familiar with, others probably less so. Still it is that time of year where the early Oscar runners are lining up, and these are titles you’ll want to be keeping an eye out for as they hit cinemas over the coming months:

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro would be best-known for directing Pan’s Labyrinth and like that film, his latest is a dark fantasy film that has a sort of ‘fairytale for adults’ storyline. The film revolves around Elsa, a lonely mute cleaning woman who works at a top-secret government lab where a mysterious creature, whom Elsa befriends, is being experimented with.

Sally Hawkins is getting a lot of praise for her leading performance as Elsa (actors who play characters coping with disabilities do seem to find favour with the Academy Awards) and the film is earning positive reviews for its visually entrancing nature and emotional depth, with EW praising it as “poignant, tender, funny, romantic, and just breathtaking in its shoot-the-moon ambition.”

 Lady Bird

We reported over the weekend that Saoirse Ronan could also be a Best Actress Oscar contender (having been nominated for the award twice already, could it be third time lucky?) for her latest feature. In Lady Bird, she plays a teenage girl who plans to escape her family by going to college in New York.

The film is directed and written by Greta Gerwig, an indie darling best-known for roles in Frances Ha and Mistress America. Lady Bird marks her directorial debut and it was introduced at the festival by none other than the writer-director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins. Jenkins called it “all kinds of lovely,” and the critics agreed.

 Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman is well-known for transforming himself via the wonders of modern make-up in films like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Hannibal. This latest film sees him play major historical and political figure Winston Churchill in the early, turbulent days of his becoming Prime Minister.

Oldman has, surprisingly, only even been nominated for one Oscar (for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in 2011) so this could be his time following high praise at Telluride. Plus the Oscars always love those big historical epics. Darkest Hour is set to hit Irish cinemas on 12 January 2018.


 Oldman’s big competition for the Best Actor Oscar could very well be Cristian Bale. Variety praised Bale’s performance in his latest as “jaw-dropping” and “easily ranks among the greatest he’s given.” Director Scott Cooper previously helmed Bale in Out of the Furnace and he also directed two stellar leading performances in Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart and Johnny Depp in Black Mass.

 Hostiles is set in 1892 and sees Bale play a legendary Army captain who reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.

 First They Killed My Father

While not flawless, Angelina Jolie’s latest directorial project has been praised as her best yet. The film is an adaption of Loung Ung’s memoir about her terrifying childhood in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime. The film could very well be Cambodia’s entry for the academy’s foreign language film Oscar.

 Not-so-honourable mentions

Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes sees Emma Stone and Steve Carell respectively take on the roles of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs who faced off one another in a tennis match for the ages. The film, which is directed by the team behind Little Miss Sunshine and Rudy Sparks, was deemed by LA Times to be a “middle-of-the-road crowd pleaser” while Vanity Fair film critic Richard Lawson said it was “rousing” with a "frenetic energy" but also had “hokier qualities.”


With direction by George Clooney, Matt Damon and Julianne Moore starring, and a screenplay by the Coen brothers, all the ingredients seem to be there but apparently Suburbicon got only a lukewarm reception at Telluride. Among the harsher reviews, The Guardian said it was “too lightweight and mannered; it lacks proper fury. Watching it is like having your trouser-leg savaged by an energetic small dog.”