January 02, 2015

Tag Archives: Toronto

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 […]

Could a Best Picture nominee launch from Cannes this year?

In the pretty near future, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will be announced. We already know that potential Oscar player Grace of Monaco will be there, but what else could debut at Cannes and then potentially appeal to Academy members? This particular festival isn’t nearly as awards season centric as the New York or Toronto Film Festivals are (or the Telluride Film Festival, for that matter), but we always get a contender or two to discuss. Last year we had Blue is the Warmest Color debut, while future nominees like The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska unspooled as well. That got me thinking about what this year’s slate could have inside of it for prognosticators like myself to chew on…
Below you’ll find five titles that I think could have a chance at turning the heads of voters, provided of course that they play at the fest. I’ve opted to focus on American movies just because those are the ones that the Academy tends to focus in on themselves, though of course there are exceptions from time to time like Amour. Still, big time contenders (and even the occasional Best Picture winner like No Country for Old Men) tend to be english language outings. Anyway, now I’ll dive in and speculate about five likely Cannes titles that could have a chance to woo members of the Academy.
1. Birdman – There’s a chance that this comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu could be too offbeat for Oscar voters, but they’ve gone out on dramatic limbs with him before, so if this tale of a washed up actor doesn’t get too weird for them, there are tons of nomination opportunities. This could also be the role that nabs Michael Keaton his first Academy Award nomination too, so there’s that. This one could either get shut out or be a huge player, but it’s potentially the most likely to transition to awards season attention. We’ll see if it actually debuts at Cannes, but I think it’s highly likely that it will.
2. Magic in the Moonlight – Another highly likely title for the fest, Woody Allen’s next movie is set in France, so that only makes it even more apt for a slot. That being said, of late Allen has basically seen every other film of his become Oscar players, so this could be the off year for him. Still, it’s likely […]

“Silver Linings Playbook” crossed the $75 million mark

Last night’s box office was kind of a watershed moment for “Silver Linings Playbook.” David O. Russell’s Oscar nominated serio-comedy not only held its own in third place, but nudged up to cross the $75 million mark. “Silver Linings” has now also nosed ahead of “Zero Dark Thirty,” which is sort of amazing. For thirty days, “SLP” languished in limited release while other, bigger movies came and went. “SLP” and “ZD30″ were neck and neck in the same number of theaters once they each went wide.
But now “SLP” had broken from the pack. It’s going to make $100 million, and be the next Weinstein Company movie to hit that mark. Maybe a landmark: I can’t recall a time that the Weinstein Company has had two movies in the top 10 at the same time. Yet, now they have the Russell and “Django Unchained.” And they’re each nominated for Best Picture.
Of the two, “Playbook” has a stronger shot at winning Best Picture. But again, I told you this when I saw “Playbook” in Toronto. It’s such a terrific film, and it’s the one with heart this season. People feel good when they see it. That’s not to diminish “Zero Dark Thirty.” But audiences love “Silver Linings Playbook.” Jennifer Lawrence is on her way to Best Actress, too. “SLP” and maybe “Lincoln” are the two realistic rivals to “Argo.”
The surging success of “SLP” means that by February 24th, Oscar audiences will really have seen all nine nominated Best Pictures and care about them. That, plus the show itself, should add up to solid ratings for the Academy Awards telecast.
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On the Road (***) Film Review

After what feels like just about an eternity, I finally saw ‘On the Road’ back in early October at one of the first screenings post Toronto. This is a film that’s been on the verge of release so long it’s almost become an annual joke between Clayton and myself about including it in predictions at the start of each season. Well, this is the year that we can finally talk about the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s legendary book and where it stands in the Oscar race. The verdict on the awards front is that it’s a long shot at best in most categories.
Aside from that though, this is a pretty good, if difficult, road trip drama with some notably strong acting from Garret Hedlund and Kristen Stewart especially. Sam Riley is very solid too, but those first two really shine. Walter Salles has shot an absolutely beautiful movie and along with scribe Jose Rivera has captured the words of Kerouac about as well as one could have hoped for (by using the original scroll, actually), even dating back to the days of Francis Ford Coppola seeking to adapt the seminal novel.
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“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. […]

Ben Affleck’s “Argo” earns raves after debut Telluride screening – AWARDS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Ben Affleck’s “Argo” has been building a steady stream of buzz behind the scenes from people in the know claiming that the seasoned actor and full-fledged filmmaker had a third consecutive hit on his hands. This afternoon, the political thriller held a not-so-secret debut screening at the Telluride Film Festival, and the response was off-the-charts positive.
“Terrific,” “outstanding,” “amazing,” “smart” and “absorbing” were the adjectives tossed around Twitter by scribes from sites like Variety, HitFix and The Playlist. Best Picture and Director nods seems very possible at this early stage of the game, as Affleck earned Academy cred with “The Town” (a Best Supporting nod for co-star Jeremy Renner) and “Gone Baby Gone” (a win for the great Amy Ryan).
By all accounts, Affleck has hit another home run with this true-but-strange story of a CIA operative cooking up a bizarre scheme to help extradite U.S. hostages from a compromised embassy in Iran. Affleck stars, and surrounds himself with an awards-worthy ensemble that includes John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler and Victor Garber.
The Telluride screening was a warm up for Affleck’s Gala screening in Toronto. That’s when I plan to get my first look at what sounds like a winner. We hope to cover “Argo” through the bulk of the awards season. Could this be the one that earn Affleck his well-deserved seat at the Best Director’s table? We shall see.

Read more of our exclusive Awards interviews:
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat
“Writers” director Josh Boone
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Paul Thomas Anderson surprises California audience with “The Master” screening

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The Venice and Toronto film festivals put feathers in their caps by being able to program Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly-anticipated “The Master” into their fall events. But knowing PTA – and his adoration for true cinema fans – he had something special up his sleeve, which was revealed Friday night in Santa Monica.
Anderson screened his film, in full, following a retrospective screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” at the American Cinematheque in Southern California. Patrons attending the screening were told that there would be a second movie screening after the Kubrick classic, according to HitFix, but they had no idea it would be PTA’s drama until it screened.
The AC screening allowed Anderson (who attended with his wife, Maya Rudolph) to screen “The Master” in his preferred format, 70mm. This near-insistence is causing headaches with exhibitors as the film prepares its fall theatrical release. But the film will be opening in limited release on Sept. 14, with a strong push from The Weinstein Company, before it continues to expand.
You have to love PT Anderson for surprising fans at a legitimate cinematic event, taking a little wind out of the sails of the prestigious film festivals but paying tribute to the people he makes movies for … the audience.
It’s not going to stop us from covering the daylights out of “The Master” when it screens in Toronto in September. Stay tuned for our reports on Anderson’s movie, and its trot through the Oscar marathon.
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