September 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto Film Festival has crowded the Oscar field in a big way

If there’s one thing you can count on from the Toronto International Film Festival each and every single year, it’s that the fest is going to launch a ton of major Academy Award contenders. This year, that was no exception, as the race really has begun to take its initial shape in the wake of certain Toronto debuts. Much like with the recent Telluride Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, as well as the upcoming New York Film Festival, each major movie premiere changes the race a bit. It’s still early, but with the exception of the two major mysteries still to be revealed at NYFF in Gone Girl/Inherent Vice and titles that won’t really be making festival bows like Fury, Interstellar, Into the Woods, and Unbroken, we know who the players are. It’s just which flicks will be able to sustain buzz and begin winning precursor awards.
With Toronto still going strong, I wanted to look at how some of the players there turned out and how those titles are shaping the race in new ways. Among the many titles playing and/or having premieres of some sort at TIFF, we have Black and White from Mike Binder, The Cobbler from Thomas McCarthy, The Drop from Michaël R. Roskam, The Equalizer from Antoine Fuqua, The Good Lie from Philippe Falardeau, The Humbling from Barry Levinson, The Judge from David Dobkin, Love & Mercy from Bill Pohlad, Men Women & Children from Jason Reitman, Miss Julie from Liv Ullmann, Nightcrawler from Dan Gilroy, Pawn Sacrifice from Ed Zwick, St. Vincent from Theodore Melfi, The Theory of Everything from James Marsh, This Is Where I Leave You from Shawn Levy, Top Five from Chris Rock, Tusk from Kevin Smith, and While We’re Young from Noah Baumbach. Throw in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher making a stop up North as well as previously established contenders like Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Jean-Marc Vallee’s Wild all continuing their solid buzz building and you have just about everything that’s in contention so far.
First up, let’s knock out the films we don’t really have to worry about in the awards season anymore due to mixed/poor reviews. It seems like Black and White, The Cobbler, The Good Lie, The Humbling, The Judge, Miss Julie, and This Is Where I Leave You are pretty much buried, unless Robert Duvall gets […]

The Toronto Film Festival will again play host to scores of Oscar hopefuls

With today’s announcement that David Dobkin’s film The Judge will open the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, I figured that it was a good time to talk about the TIFF lineup. That Robert Downey Jr. vehicle will seek to become an awards player, and it’s not alone. Each year, scores of titles descend on Toronto in order to distinguish themselves to Academy members and various precursor voters everywhere. The festival has a solid history of producing Oscar nominees, though the big time competition this year from the New York Film Festival will certainly shine a light on just how essential a stop this fest still is. For now though, it’s a big one, and well worth a bit of discussion.
As mentioned above, the opening film is The Judge, which could be a Best Actor player for Downey Jr. or perhaps even a Best Picture contender if it’s better than expected. It’s definitely one of the most anticipated flicks starting up their run at the festival, along with the closing selection, which is Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos. Along with those two, the highest profile titles include Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild, Jason Reitman’s Men, Women, & Children, Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, and James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything. Each of these is considered a major awards hopeful to one degree or another, so it’ll be their first test of viability. Strong reactions set it off on a path to potential Oscar glory, while mixed to poor reactions could sent it straight down the drain into oblivion.
Other big debuts at the fest will be Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, Mike Binder’s Black and White, Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Equalizer, Ed Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice, Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club, Shawn Levy’s This Is Where I Leave You, Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, Chris Evans’ directorial debut Before We Go, Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy, Barry Levinson’s The Humbling, David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn, as well as other works like The Drop and The Imitation Game, all of whom have some level of awards hope to them. Most won’t take on that kind of narrative, but at least one or two will, so it becomes almost a game trying to figure out which ones it will be ahead of time.
The other titles of note are Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher of course, along with David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, Mike Leigh’s […]

“Silver Linings Playbook” kicking off this year’s Savannah Film Festival – OSCARS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: David O. Russell’s Oscar contender “The Silver Linings Playbook” will open The 2012 Savannah Film Festival, an annual event that this year will showcase similar awards contenders like Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight,” Dustin Hoffman’s “Quartet,” the crowd-pleasing musical comedy “The Sapphires” and Michael Haneke’s emotionally draining “Amour.”
The fest will kick off on Saturday, Oct. 27. It also will conclude with a 3D screening of DreamWorks Animation’s holiday blockbuster “Rise of the Guardians.”
Russell’s comedy has been building awards momentum since it took home the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The Hollywood Film Awards announced so far that it will recognize Robert De Niro with the “Hollywood Supporting Actor” award, as well as Russell with this year’s “Hollywood Director Award.” Expect them to be the first of many prestigious award nominations “Silver Linings” picks up as the season rolls along.
Savannah steadily has been raising its profile as a stop on the lengthy awards marathon, following the Venice-Telluride-Toronto trifecta and the New York and L.A. (AFI) fests. The festival has U.S. premiered two Pedro Almodovar films, as well as films by Robert Redford and Woody Allen. Special gala screenings, which were shown before their national release, include “127 Hours,” “Amelie,” “Babel,” “Black Swan,” “Precious,” “Sideways,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Artist,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “The Wrestler” and “Up in the Air.” This year, Savannah’s lineup makes room for the aforementioned films, all of which hold Oscar aspirations and can benefit from packed-house screenings in the Georgia city.
In addition, Savannah organizers have revealed that they will celebrate the fest’s 15th anniversary by recognizing Academy Award-nominated actors Matt Dillon (“Crash”) and Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”) with Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Awards. Michelle Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”) also will receive a “Spotlight Award” for her performance in “Tomorrow You’re Gone,” while Academy Award-winning writer and director Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”) will receive the “SCAD Cinevation Award,” which is given to one director for imagination, inspiration and innovation in cinema.
I’ll be reporting from the Savannah Film Festival once again this year, participating in panels and drinking in the cinema with the Southeast’s most sophisticated film-fest audiences. It has become a must-attend event every year, both for the festival’s professionalism, the impressive lineup, and the city’s overwhelming hospitality.
Tickets for the 2012 Savannah Film Festival are on sale, and can be purchased online at savannahboxoffice.com, or […]

“Silver Linings Playbook” wins People’s Choice Award in Toronto – OSCARS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: In our recent wrap up of this year’s rich, rewarding Toronto International Film Festival slate, I wrote that the surprise of TIFF was David O. Russell’s “The Silver Linings Playbook” … not because it’s good (which it is), but because “Playbook” absolutely crushed it with Toronto crowds and seemed to collect the most Oscar “buzz” of all the films heading North to kick-start their awards campaigns.
Looks like the “Silver Lining” surprises just keep coming.
Toronto organizers announced that Russell’s comedy won the People’s Choice Award Sunday afternoon. The victory builds on the strong audience reaction out of TIFF that Russell has hit a home run with his adaptation of Matthew Quick’s darkly cynical novel. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Russell all earned raves from TIFF crowds. Now the fest has put its money where its mouth is, and “Playbook” leaves TIFF with some valuable hardware that can only help its Oscar campaign.
With no tangible way to measure, I’d say “Playbook” was the most buzzed about film following a Saturday evening screening in Toronto. Based on the success of Russell’s “The Fighter,” you can expect to hear a lot more about “Silver Linings” as the awards season rolls on.
The Weinstein Company looks to have “Silver Linings Playbook” in theaters on Nov. 21. It’s possible the studio could move that release date forward by a few days, but for now, that’s how long you’ll have to wait to see Russell’s latest winner.
Read more of our exclusive Toronto coverage:
Our “Silver Linings Playbook” review!
Ben Affleck’s “Argo” scores
Rian Johnson’s “Looper” reviewed
“Amour” amazes, “Rust & Bone” ultimately delivers
TIFF: The Day Before the Madness
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Toronto ’12 Wrap Up: Which movies helped their Oscar chances? Is Silver Linings Playbook the film to beat? – AWARDS ANALYSIS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: My approach to the Toronto International Film Festival was slightly different from years past. Instead of pausing between screenings to comment on films as they played, I sprinted from one movie to the next, collecting impressions like a kid gathering colorful Easter eggs on a Sunday morning hunt.
Oscars: Is Silver Linings Playbook the film to beat?
As a result, I was able to cram 20 movies and a handful of engaging interview opportunities into my five-day Toronto stay. I left TIFF this year with a clearer picture of the ongoing Oscar race (but also acknowledge that there are still so many films left to debut … some of which we’ll see at the New York Film Festival later this month).
So, which movie helped their Oscar causes by screening in Toronto? Let’s run through the top titles, and see what kind of buzz they were able to generate.

“The Silver Linings Playbook”
When The Weinstein Company opted to skip Telluride, Toronto became a very important “first step” for David O. Russell’s dark comedy. And by all accounts, “Playbook” hit a home run. With no tangible way to measure, I’d say this was the most buzzed about film following a Saturday evening screening. Key Oscar bloggers sang the praises of Russell’s cast, with Jennifer Lawrence suddenly viewed as the frontrunner in the Best Actress category on certain Oscar-tracking Web sites. Based on the success of Russell’s “The Fighter,” you can expect to hear a lot more about “Silver Linings” as the awards season rolls on.
“The Master”
Another film likely to generate multiple Oscars nominations, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” screened in glorious 70mm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theater to critical acclaim ahead of its Sept. 14 release. The loudest praise swirled around the film’s lead performances – with Joaqin Phoenix slightly edging out Philip Seymour Hoffman in the “Wow” factor, and Amy Adams also generating raves for her supporting turn. Did the film do enough to compete for a Best Picture slot? It will be interesting to see how “The Master” is received by ticket buyers once it enters the marketplace.

“Argo”
Ben Affleck’s third directorial effort, on the other hand, seemed to solidify its chances at a valuable Best Picture nomination with a very strong showing in Toronto (followed by its celebrated bow in Telluride). If there’s a single complaint about “Argo,” it’s that the ensemble is so powerf, […]

Bradley Cooper: “Silver Linings Playbook” earning raves in Toronto: Our review! – AWARDS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: I never thought I’d like Bradley Cooper as much as I like him in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
The actor’s been having an interesting Toronto fest. In addition to “Playbook,” he’s also the second leg of a bizarre crime-triangle crafted by Derek Cianfrance in “The Place Beyond the Pines.” But he carries David O. Russell’s new, black comedy on his jittery shoulders. It’s by far his best work, to date, and the movie absolutely would be worth seeing were he the only actor in it.
He isn’t, however. Much in the way Russell surrounded Mark Wahlberg with heavy hitters for “The Fighter,” the director lines up a formidable cast who are ready to dance with Cooper (literally, when it comes to Jennifer Lawrence).
There’s a nervous energy to Russell’s agitated and entertaining “Playbook,” an urgency to move away from wherever it happens to be lingering so it can complete a random task. It stems from its main protagonist, Patrick (Bradley Cooper) – a character who, the minute we first meet him, is trying to talk himself as well as a close friend and fellow patient put of a Baltimore mental facility. Patrick just has to go. He has unfinished business.
Everyone in Patrick’s circle has unfinished business, as well. His father (Robert De Niro) is a passionate Philadelphia Eagles fan who can’t stop wagering on games (much to his bookie’s delight). Patrick even strikes up a friendship with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the similarly damaged widow of a deceased police officer. Their tentative relationship is the bedrock on which “Playbook” stands, and it’s the combustible chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence (and the fine contributions of the co-stars) that gives Russell his fuel.
Patrick’s deeply flawed, but Cooper somehow makes him likeable. We witness the crippling issues plaguing his parents (De Niro and Jacki Weaver), and simply want him to break free from their wet blanket of insecurities and succeed. His performance is all short fuses, a live wire connection that Pat actually encapsulates as “the explosion guy.” Russell matches that intensity with a frantic camera that uses deliberate movements to convey mood. And there’s a violent breakdown set to Led Zepplin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” that might be the purest dose of uncomfortable artistry that I’ve seen at Toronto so far.
“Playbook” steps out of reality from time to time in search of black, broad laughs. […]

“Amour” amazes at Toronto International Film Fest – AWARDS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Day One of the Toronto International Film Festival is almost in the books. Three movies down, one more to go. (And that one has Kristen Stewart in it … do you think it will draw a crowd?)
The festival officially “opens” Thursday evening with a screening of Rian Johnson’s “Looper” (which we reviewed earlier today). But here are some snapshot reactions to the rest of the films I’ve managed to see so far.
“Amour”
The Who’s lyrics resonate deeply following a screening of Michael Haneke’s “Amour” – I hope I die before I get old.
Perhaps, then, I’ll be spared the grief and heartache associated with dying – feelings and experiences that are personified with gut-wrenching precision by Haneke’s two spectacular actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, in the powerful “Amour.” She plays Anne, a doting Parisian wife and former piano teacher who’s stricken with a debilitating illness. He plays Georges, the dedicated spouse who does what he can to help his beloved endure the hardships of mortality with the same dignity she brought to life.
The unflinching “Amour” captures a loving couple’s last days with documentary-worthy realism, nailing the frustrations, struggles and small joys that often come with the caretaking of a loved one. We have yet to see anyone challenge death and win, so the ending of “Amour” is written in stone (so much so that Haneke opens his film with the revelation that Anne has died). The rest of the film allows the couple to reflect on how they lived, and to demonstrate how an illness in the family extends beyond the afflicted to affect everyone.
It’s difficult not to project your own personal experiences onto the screen while watching “Amour.” The situations presented by Haneke are far too realistic not to see ourselves (and our loved ones) as moving parts in this difficult story. During one emotional scene, as Georges fights to feed a stubborn Anne just so that she’ll live a few days longer, I started thinking of all the people I’d do that for, and the ones I hope might do it for me. That’s love.
One cannot say enough about the performances delivered by Riva and Trintignant in service of Haneke’s grim study. They’re mesmerizing in these complicated roles. Riva, particularly, embraces the fear and loathing one can feel when their mind and body begin to fail. If the awards system […]

Toronto International Film Festival, here we come! – AWARDS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We are bearing down on the Toronto International Film Festival! Last-minute interviews are being booked. Buzz out of Venice and Telluride dictates sudden schedule changes. For the most part, my TIFF calendar is locked and blocked. I give it until Friday morning before something wonderful blows the whole schedule to smithereens!
Two flights, a bus and a train will take me to Canada for one of the year’s most anticipated film festivals, a launch pad for most of the films we’ll be talking about all Oscar season. Which pictures will distance themselves from the crowded pack?
Bets are on “The Master,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s scintillating drama that reportedly features riveting performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. I’ll finally catch The Master Saturday morning.
But in the days leading up to TIFF, the wires hummed with positive feedback on an array of Oscar hopefuls. Ben Affleck’s “Argo” amazed the Telluride audiences. Marion Cotillard has emerged as a “must see” for her performance in “Rust and Bone,” so that has been penciled in for my first TIFF slot on Thursday morning. Sarah Polley’s documentary, “Stories We Tell,” also built significant buzz in Venice, so I’ll try and see it on Friday morning.
Other titles on my calendar for this year include:
“Amour”
“Anna Karenina”
“On the Road”
“Cloud Atlas”
“Looper”
“Frances Ha”
“Seven Psychopaths”
“To the Wonder”
“Hyde Park on the Hudson”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“The Impossible”
“Imogene”
“Passion”
“The Sapphires”
TIFF, of course, is a marathon. It’s all about pacing. But it’s a cinematic smorgasbord of rich offerings. We’ve been lucky enough to cover the fest from the ground in Toronto for years. We appreciate you reading our updates. Keep it here for up-to-the-minute reports from Toronto, the first major step on the 2012 Awards Season.
Read more of our exclusive Awards interviews:
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat
“Writers” director Josh Boone
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Jason Reitman bringing Oscar-winning classic to TIFF 2012

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Canadian native Jason Reitman has become a staple of the Toronto International Film Festival, premiering his award-winning “Juno” and “Up In the Air” at the annual fest. Reitman’s returning for the 2012 festival, but he isn’t bringing a film. Well … he isn’t exactly bringing a film.
Reitman revealed on Sunday that he’ll accompany an all-star cast at the famed Ryerson for a live table read of Alan Ball’s “American Beauty” screenplay. With no rehearsal, the actors will come together for a one-take read-through and will revisit this Academy Award-winning script, with Reitman narrating stage direction.
Reitman announced on Twitter that he’d start revealing the names of his cast members on Monday.
“This is one surprise we couldn’t wait to share with Toronto,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO, TIFF. “Jason Reitman is like family to us and the Ryerson Theatre is his Festival home.”
“We’re excited to offer Festival audiences the opportunity to watch the creative process unfold in front of their eyes,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “With actors of this calibre being guided by Jason Reitman through Alan Ball’s Oscar-winning screenplay, this will be a unique experience to remember.”
The table read will be held at the Ryerson Theatre on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. Tickets went on sale on Sunday, and cost $19.69 for adults and $15.04 for age 25 and under.
Purchase Festival tickets online at tiff.net/festival, by phone at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, and in person at the Festival Box Office located at 225 King St West. TIFF prefers Visa. The 37th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6 to 16, 2012.
Jason Reitman created the “Live Read” in October 2011, in collaboration with Elvis Mitchell for the film society of Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA). The six month hit series featured “Breakfast Club” (Jennifer Garner and Aaron Paul), “The Apartment” (Steve Carell and Natalie Portman), “The Princess Bride” (Paul Rudd), “Shampoo” (Bradley Cooper and Kate Hudson), “The Big Lebowski” (Seth Rogen), and “Reservoir Dogs,” featuring an all-African American cast with Laurence Fishburne and Terrence Howard.
The LACMA series will begin again this October 2012, with all movie titles and cast as a last-second surprise.
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TIFF ’12: “Writers” director Josh Boone talks Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly and author Stephen King

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Our preparation for the Toronto International Film Festival rolls on, with this year’s fest about to kick start in just under two weeks.
As part of our prep, we’re thrilled to interview writer-director Josh Boone, whose directorial debut “Writers” will make its World Premiere at TIFF ’12 in the Special Presentations program. It joins films like “Cloud Atlas,” “The Master,” “The Sessions” and “To the Wonder.”
“Writers” has star power. Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly anchor the drama as recently divorced parents to a headstrong and sexually active teenager (Lily Collins). Logan Lerman and Kristen Bell co-star in what will be Boone’s directorial debut.

We had the opportunity to speak with Boone on the phone as he prepared to visit TIFF for the first time. Here are his thoughts on his film, films festivals, and the contributions of his favorite author Stephen King, who plays himself in the movie. Listen to interview below:
AUDIO – Josh Boone
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