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Ryan Gosling, George Clooney in “The Ides of March” – TIFF 2011

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We don’t have enough time. Then again, that’s kind of the unofficial theme of the Toronto International Film Festival. There are so many wonderful films screening at the event, so many interesting talents to interview, that there’s never enough time to accomplish all of the items on the annual TIFF “to do” list. But we’re going to give it our best shot.

HollywoodNews.com returns to TIFF to cover this year’s event, the 36th annual film festival, that kicks off Thursday, Sept. 8. In an effort to familiarize you with the quality of film that will screen, and to let you know the movies we’ll be keeping an eye on as the awards season marches on, we’re bringing back our “Road to Toronto” feature, which previews two key TIFF films a day. We’ll run these previews right up until the fest starts, then transition into our daily coverage from TIFF 2011.

These previews go in no particular order. They are films that I, myself, look forward to seeing for the entertainment value. Yet they’ll also have some components that I think will stay on our radar as we continue to write for the site’s Awards Alley as we lead up to next year’s Oscar telecast.

So what’s the No. 1 film I’m looking forward to at TIFF 2011, as well as the film I believe has more than a puncher’s chance of tossing its hat into the Best Picture race?

The Ides of March

The Plot: During a tense Ohio primary, an up-and-coming press secretary (Ryan Gosling) faces a political scandal that threatens to destroy his candidate’s (George Clooney) presidential campaign.

The Cast: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright

The Director: George Clooney (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Leatherheads”)

The Scoop: Based on Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North,” Clooney’s film promises to be extremely relevant given that we’re heading into an election year. Much like with “Good Night,” the director has assembled a stellar cast, handing the key role over to Gosling, who has been having a white-hot year (thanks to “Drive”). Any film that has Giamatti, Clooney, Hoffman, Wright, Wood and Tomei in support has the potential to be great.

Awards Potential: It seems like “Ides of March” could check off nominations in all of the key categories, depending on how it plays. Picture and Director are up for grabs, as Clooney’s “Good Night” made it into those races (and deserved to be there). Screenplay’s possible for Clooney, Willimon and Grant Heslov. And we’ll wait to see who, if anyone, distances themselves from the “Ides” pack for acting nominations.

“The Ides of March” opens everywhere on Oct. 7. We’ll be covering it extensively from the Toronto International Film Festival.

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