The 2015 Telluride Film Festival slate is always officially announced the day before the annual Labor Day fest kicks off.  Of course, the dirty little secret that anyone in Hollywood in the know pretty much already knows what major films are going to screen there.  Plus, the premiere designations from both the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, which occur immediately afterward, usually give it a way.

Telluride has now become the premiere showcase in the race for Best Picture.  Six out of the last seven winners ("The Hurt Locker" being the lone exception) either premiered or screened in the picturesque Colorado town.  Fox Searchlight's "Birdman" played there immediately following its Venice debut and "12 Years A Slave," "Argo," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The King's Speech" all premiered at Telluride. The sixth winner, "The Artist," was the toast of Cannes before heading to Telluride.  Needless to say, if you're a betting man or woman you can pick from seven movies at the festival that will likely be the Best Picture winner next February.

Let's take a quick look, shall we?

"Steve Jobs"
Director: Danny Boyle
Biggest star: Michael Fassbender
First screening: Saturday, 7 PM MT/6 PM PT
Look for a review: Late Saturday night.
Million dollar question:  Is this really the best picture frontrunner?

"Black Mass"
Director: Scott Cooper
Biggest star: Johnny Depp
First screening: Saturday 9:30 PM MT/8:30 PM PT
Look for a review: Sunday morning around 12 noon PT.
Million dollar question: Is this the kickoff of Johnny Depp's second comeback?

Director: Sarah Gavron
Biggest star: Meryl Streep (although she's reportedly barely in the movie, so Carey Mulligan)
First screening: Friday 7:30 PM MT/6:30 PT
Look for a review: Saturday morning 12 noon PT.
Million dollar question: Why is this movie only playing one of the four major early festivals?

"Beasts of No Nation"
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Biggest star: Idris Elba
First screening: Sunday, 9 PM MT/8 PM PT
Look for a review: After midnight PT on Sunday.
Million dollar question: Why did the independently financed drama go to Netflix and not a traditional film distributor?

Director: Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson
Biggest star: Jennifer Jason Leigh (voice)
First screening: Friday, 10 PM MT/9 PM PT
Look for a review: Drew McWeeny will review this out of Toronto. I'll tweet my reaction sometime after 11 PM PT.
Million dollar question: Is it commercial enough for a legitimate distributor to pick it up?

Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Biggest star: Brie Larson
First screening: Friday, 6 PM MT/5 PM PT
Look for a review: Friday night after midnight PT or (worst case scenario) Saturday morning.
Million dollar question: Is this the role that finally takes Brie Larson to the next level?

Director: Tom McCarthy
Biggest star: Mark Ruffallo
First screening: Saturday 9 AM MT/8 AM PT
Look for a review: Saturday around 11 AM PT.
Million dollar question: Is this just a well-made newsroom drama or something more?

Other movies screening during the four-day festival include Cannes players "Son of Saul"(Review) and "Carol" (Review) as well as Berlin favorite "45 Years."

The festival will also be giving out tributes to "Steve Jobs" director Danny Boyle, who brought "127 Hours" and "Slumdog" to the festival, as well as Rooney Mara, who won the Best Actress honor at Cannes and documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis who be screening his new film, "Bitter Lake."

A slew of major stars are expected to be on hand including none other than Meryl Streep herself. That's right, America's greatest living actress will be making her first trip to Telluride for a post-screening Q&A for Focus Features' "Suffragette."  And, yes, somewhere all the studio publicity heads, Oscar consultants, filmmakers and producers who wanted her to come to Telluride in the past to help promote movies where she had a substantially bigger role are pulling their hair out in disbelief.

Well, we're glad to have you Meryl. Have you met Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Seth Rogen, Joel Edgerton, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams?  They'll also be in town. Perhaps we can all get a drink one night at the Sheridan Opera House. What do you say?

Look for complete coverage of all the comings and going at Telluride all weekend long on HitFix. For immediate reports follow @TheGregoryE

With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.