In my 7.14 Telluride spitball piece, I naively wished for an appearance of Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s The Revenant. And then last Friday’s debut of the first Revenant teaser got everyone excited. But the down-to-earth reality is that The Revenant (20th Century Fox, 12.25) will not be in Venice, Telluride or Toronto.  I’m actually told it won’t be finished until December, but I doubt that.  It’s certainly not a good idea if Inarritu and 20th Century Fox want The Revenant to be a serious Best Picture finalist.

The Sasha Stone rule is that Best Picture contenders must be seen by October…at least. Every Best Picture winner over the last decade has either been festival-screened or theatrically released before 11.1. Birdman (first screened at Venice/Telluride), 12 Years A Slave (Telluride), Argo (Telluride), The Artist (Cannes, Telluride), The King’s Speech (Telluride), The Hurt Locker (a 6.26.09 release that premiered at Venice/Toronto in ’08), Slumdog Millionaire (Telluride, commercially opened in November ’08), No Country for Old Men (Cannes in May ’07), The Departed (opened on 10.6.06), Crash (opened in May 2005). Million Dollar Baby (opened on 12.15.04, began to be screened shortly before that) was the last Best Picture winner that popped in December.