By Kristopher Tapley
TELLURIDE — If you asked me to pick between the three commanding, sure-fire awards-contending lead actor performances on display at this year's Telluride Film Festival, I'd have a break down. Yet that's just what Academy voters will surely be asked to do in a few months' time, with added pressure in the form of whoever fills out the rest of the competitive category.
In "Birdman," Michael Keaton may well end up putting forth the most compelling case for a win. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but some things are just patently obvious. Keaton is resurrected by this film, a tried-and-true narrative that we just saw play out last year with Matthew McConaughey. More than that, he's revealing shades of a character that will no doubt connect with actors, presenting the very id of a soul desperate to perform but hamstrung and even quarantined by the realities of the "business" of "show business."
In "The Imitation Game," Benedict Cumberbatch delivers his career-best work in a biopic that is sure to find Academy love and adoration across the board. "Birdman" certainly left a crater, but Morten Tyldum's film feels very much like the breakout of the festival. It's on everyone's lips and I've overheard more than a few compare the experience to the "King's Speech" coming out of 2010. And a lot of that stems from the undeniable layers Cumberbatch exhibits in his performance as ill-fated computer pioneer Alan Turing, finding graceful emotional notes amid the otherwise eccentric playground of the film's subject.
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