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TIFF ’10: Zach Galifianakis in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”

By Sean O’Connell

Hollywoodnews.com: We continue to preview anticipated titles screening at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival in our “Road to Toronto” feature.

The fest kicks off on Sept. 9, and HollywoodNews.com will be on the ground bringing you reviews, interviews, and a clearer glimpse at the ever-shifting Oscar race.

To read our previous preview columns, punch “TIFF” into our search window. Today, we’re moving on to Focus Features’ suicidal comedy-drama, which they hope becomes a serious Oscar contender. And that’s no joke.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

The Plot: Craig (Keir Gilchrist) is a 16-year old who checks himself into a mental health clinic filled with colorful characters. He even falls for fellow teenage patient Noelle (Emma Roberts).

The Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson,” “Sugar”)

The Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Viola Davis, Zoe Kravitz, Lauren Graham, Jim Gaffigan, Jeremy Davies

The Scoop: Hollywood’s celebration of all things “Galifianakis” continues as the “Hangover” star appears in another anticipated film. (He’ll also share the screen with Robert Downey Jr. in “Due Date,” out later this year.) Gilchrist isn’t a household name yet, though he has earned some cred with fine performances on Showtime’s “The United States of Tara.” And while the supporting cast is rock solid – from Viola Davis to Jeremy Davies – we’re most interested in the directing duo of Boden and Fleck, who have made two very durable pictures and seem poised to break into the mainstream with this lighter flight over the “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Awards Potential: The Academy could respond favorably to Galifianakis playing against type (his role, based on trailers, seems more serious that, say, Alan Garner from “Hangover”). We’ll know more about Roberts and Gilchrist’s chances at breaking into the supporting categories once we’ve seen the film. Of course, with a very strong performance, “Funny Story” could easily slip into the Adapted Screenplay (it’s based on Ned Vizzini’s novel of the same name) and/or the Best Director categories.

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