Unlike other festivals, Telluride sets itself apart in that it's not set up as a media showcase. Since it began in 1974, the annual event in the small Colorado ski town has always been a mix of premieres and retrospectives for true movielovers from across the world. Over the last decade though, because Telluride attracts a strong segment of annual Academy members looking for a relaxing Labor Day weekend at the movies without the cold weather of Sundance or the city bustle of Toronto (they are also one group who can afford the steep attendance fee). More importantly to the media, the reaction from the festival attendees has been a bell weather for Oscar contenders or pretenders over the years.
Just last year, "Slumdog Millionaire" began its underdog road to Oscar glory after premiering at Telluride and then continuing that lovefest less than a week later with the world wide media gathered at Toronto. Other notables that proved their awards season mettle in the mountains over the years include "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Into the Wild," "Babel" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." The festival traditionally doesn't announce the program until the day before (part of the fun in attending) but as expected, this year's list doesn't provide that many surprises.