Telluride, Monument Valley and the Oscars

In Living Color:  Monument Valley

In Living Color: Monument Valley

How about those Oscars? Wasn’t it a great show? I was thrilled that I had seen most of the films nominated for an award here in our little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado way back in September. Yes, just as in recent years, many of the movies that gained high acclaim from the Academy of Motion Pictures were shown here in T-ride—either as premiers or sneak peeks—during the Telluride Film Festival (TFF) long before they were officially released. Telluride’s selection of films seems to be filled with Oscar contenders more so than the lineups presented at other renowned film festivals in New York, Venice and Toronto.

Much of the Oscar buzz takes place before and after this annual awards show. I was thrilled to tune into CBS Sunday Morning, one of my all-time favorite TV shows, to see Monument Valley:  Mother Nature’s scene stealing movie star, last Sunday. It was a wonderful segment that featured the extraordinary sense of place of this iconic site and the many Oscar-worthy movies filmed there including “The Searchers,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump” and many more. This majestic landscape has appeared in dozens of films as well as countless commercials. Almost a half a million visitors go to Monument Valley every year, largely because of the prominence it has enjoyed in the movies. Thanks to Harry Gouding and his wife, Leone (known as Mike), film director John Ford discovered Monument Valley and its perfect setting for great western movies and feature films. This was highlighted in the CBS piece although Goulding’s Lodge and its terrific Trading Post Museum, which also showcases the history of movie-making in the area, were scarcely mentioned.

Goulding's Museum

One of Many Walls of Fame at Goulding’s Museum

Goulding’s Lodge has always been one of my favorites and spring is a lovely time to visit. Go before the crowds and the heat grow heavy and while the Oscar buzz is still fresh in your mind. The 2013 version of “The Lone Ranger” was filmed here and nominated for a couple Academy Awards. I don’t care what the critics say, I found it to be a terrific film, possibly because Monument Valley played such a leading role.

For more on Monument Valley, read Touring the Southwest with My ParentsOn the Trail of Western Movie-Making Culture and The Lone Ranger Showcases Monument Valley, Southwest Colorado and More.

Here’s a tip for anyone wanting to get in on TFF on the cheap: 

Plan to stay (or come) the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday following this Labor Day festival to attend the after-the-festival film festival. This is when I saw movies such as “Twelve Years a Slave” and “Nebraska.” You can see a total of six films (two/night) on a pass that costs about $50. Unfortunately here you don’t have the opportunity to see or meet presenters such as Brad Pitt (who came to this year’s festival), but you are able to see some great films long before the general public. Read Post Telluride Film Festival Reflections for the rundown on the 2013 TFF and my after-the-festival experience.

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