Very little about the four-day Telluride Film Festival, which concluded Monday, appears to match its own reputation as a key influence on the painfully elongated six-month awards season now upon us...
In its scale, ease and scenically memorable setting in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, it acts as the antidote to festivals such as this week's Toronto International Film Festival. Telluride is small. It is expensive, yes. (The most popular of the 4,000 or so festival passes sold each year runs about $800.) But it knows what it's doing. There is no red carpet; it has nothing to do with exhaustive junket-style roundtable interviews or destroying the souls of all involved. While Toronto crushes you with its hundreds of titles, Telluride tantalizes you with its more selective tens.
 Six of the last seven Telluride festivals have hosted the film that went on to win the top prize at the Oscars. If the Oscar luck continues this year, then the award could go to one Telluride standout: Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight" (in theaters Nov. 6) has the stuff to become the "All the President's Men" of the new century.
Now that I've experienced Telluride — shorter, sweeter, better-looking, perfectly paced Telluride — I know why those who attend the festival run by Julie Huntsinger and Tom Luddy fall in love sometime between the second and third screening. If the Telluride festival were any less vital, you'd resent being stuck indoors, in the dark, in such a beautiful part of the world.