The Oscar Express doesn't run through Denver. It typically hits Cannes, Toronto and New York before pulling into the Hollywood station for the end of year rush.
The annual Starz Denver Film Festival plays a part all the same, giving Oscar bait films some high altitude exposure.
This years's festival, which wrapped its run yesterday, served up a meaty lineup of Oscar contenders and films you'll be lucky to stream via Video on Demand services in the months to come.
Here's a sample of the films shown during the 11-day event:
- "Silver Linings Playbook" - Director David O. Russell of "The Fighter" fame is back in the Oscar mix thanks to two brilliant performances by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. In "Playbook," the pair play emotionally troubled souls who connect over dancing, the Philadelphia Eagles and the crush of societal expectations. Russell's latest proves rigorously entertaining, justifying all the awards season buzz it brought to the Mile High City. The film opens in limited release Friday.
- "A Late Quartet" - This ode to creative longevity might seem a tad too precious on the surface. The film's reach is considerable all the same, thanks in part to Christopher Walken's turn as a musician grappling with a progressive disease. It's the least Walken-esque performance he's given in ages, reminding us of the raw talent behind those halting line readings which now border on self-parody. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mark Ivanir similarly excel here, helping "Quartet" rise above its soapy subplots. "A Late Quartet" is now playing in select theaters.
- "The Fitzgerald Family Christmas" - Writer/director Edward Burns goes back to his 1995 breakthrough film "The Brothers McMullen" to invigorate his latest lo-fi drama. "McMullen" returnees Connie Britton and Mike McGlone join Burns and esteemed character actor Ed Lauter for an emotionally charged family reunion. Lauter plays an estranged pappy trying to reconnect with his brood for one last holiday. The film will be available via Video on Demand services starting Nov. 21.
- "Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie" - The documentary is as fascinating, and phony, as its subject. The late 1980s belonged to Downey, the chain-smoking, trash-talking host of his eponymous show. The on-screen Downey was as phony as any modern-day reality star, but "Evocateur" treats him like the genuine article. It's a nifty time capsule all the same, but the film lazily ties Downey's hate shtick with the Tea Party movement. The film is tentatively slated for an early 2013 release.