On Tuesday morning (7.28) organizers of the Toronto Film Festival (9.10 to 9.20) will announce many of the major award-season contenders that will be screened as world gala premieres (first time anywhere), North American premieres (already seen in Cannes or Berlin but not slated for Telluride) or Canadian premieres. The latter category will include films that have chosen to premiere at Telluride and have therefore accepted either (a) a lesser Toronto venue if they want to screen during TIFF’s first four days or (b) a premiere at a first-class theatre anytime after the first four days.

In other words handicappers, like last year, can again work backwards from Toronto’s Tuesday announcement. If a toney, big-name film is classified as a Canadian premiere, it’s playing Telluride first. A film can also be identified as a Telluride-firster if it’s playing at a less-than-deluxe venue over the first four days, but when will venue info be available?

It seems as if Toronto is, as usual, playing hardball and doing everything it can to elbow Telluride in the ribs whenever possible. In some ways Toronto’s gangsta strategy appears to be working but in other ways Telluride (9.4 to 9.7) is still the coolest and fairest festival of them all.

I’m hearing that Scott Cooper‘s Black Mass, a true-life melodrama about Boston crime lord Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), is a definite Telluride preem. If nothing else the Telluride debut will serve as a launch pad for Depp’s Best Actor campaign.

Oscar-wise Depp will be up against The Revenant‘s Leonardo DiCaprio, Trumbo‘s Bryan Cranston, Steve JobsMichael Fassbender, The Danish Girl‘s Eddie Redmayne (I’m starting to get irritated by the LGBT club hanging over everyone’s head…show your love for this touching portrait of transgender humanism or you may be suspected of being a closet bigot) and possibly Joseph Gordon Levitt in either (a) Oliver Stone‘s Snowden or (b) for his Pepe Le Pew performance in Robert Zemeckis‘s The Walk.

The big Best Actress contenders will be the currently-pregnant Carey Mulligan in Suffragette (which will probably premiere at Telluride), Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn (probably slated for Telluride) and Cate Blanchett in Carol (and possibly competing with herself in James Vanderbilt‘s Truth, another likely Telluride shower-upper).

If I was running the show at Universal I would want Brian Helgeland‘s Legend, the Kray brothers crime drama with Tom Hardy in a dual role, having its North American premiere at Telluride. Why? Because a screening date on 9.4 or 9.5 or 9.6 would at least be three or four days in advance of the film’s 9.9 British commercial release. Legend might have its big debut at the Venice Film Festival (I haven’t heard) but I’m told it’s definitely booked into Toronto, which is odd given that TIFF begins a day after Joe Blow can buy a ticket in any British cinema.

My understanding is that Thomas McCarthy‘s Spotlight will have its big debut at the Venice Film festival (Mark Ruffalo revealed this a few days ago in Italy) with a subsequent North American premiere in Toronto…but no Telluride.

I’m not going to go down the whole list but I’m fairly certain about a few more titles. It’s definitely going to be an above-average Telluride, I can tell you that. I riffed on this a couple of weeks ago (7.14) in a piece called “Telluride Likelies, Spitballs, Wishies.”