Films that appear Oscar worthy after Toronto Film Festival acclaim
Silver Linings Playbook, the latest film from David O. Russell (The Fighter) made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival and after earning the Blackberry People’s Choice Award, it has vaulted to Oscar buzz-worthy status.
That the film, set in Philadelphia, features a serious side order of Eagles fan obsession, along with its delightfully authentic romance between two broken people (played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence) is a bonus. After seeing 30 films in eight days, Playbook remained one of my favorite films from the festival.
My other favorites with Oscar possibilities include Cloud Atlas, based on the novel by David Mitchell, an epic sci-fi drama with comedy that intertwines six different stories across time, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tkywer (Run Lola Run).
The deeper we go, the more these different threads wind together into a tale of humanity’s flaws and the search for meaning in the universe. It is a lot funnier (in a good way) then the summation suggests, and all of the storylines are compelling. With Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant playing multiple characters that cross time and gender (Berry as a white Jewish woman, Weaving as a woman, Tom Hanks as a British black gangster and Susan Sarandon as a man), Cloud Atlas should earn a look from the Academy members.
Also Oscar worthy is The Sessions, especially the performances by John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) as a man confined to an iron lung who doesn’t want to die a virgin and Helen Hunt as the sex surrogate he hires to accomplish that goal.
The Impossible has Oscar-worthy elements including great acting (by Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, and newcomer Tom Holland) and a thrilling ripped-from-the-headlines tale about a family caught in the terrifying 2004 tsunami. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), this real life disaster film recreates the horror of that wall of water in vivid detail in this grueling survival story.
Argo has earned a ton of Oscar buzz although I’m not one of its fans. It wasn’t bad, but Ben Affleck’s drama, about how the CIA, in cooperation with the Canadian Embassy, managed to smuggle six Americans out of Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980 is bland and lacks suspense except for the final 15 minutes.
And while I would applaud Oscar nominations for either Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) keeps us at an emotional distance in its tale about a cult-like leader in the 1950s that some claim is based on Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard.
Here is a list of my 10 favorite films from the Toronto Film Fest:
1) Cloud Atlas 3½ stars
2) Silver Linings Playbook 3½ stars
3) Casting By (documentary about casting directors) 3½ stars
4) The Place Beyond the Pines (multi-story drama with Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper) 3 stars
5) The Impossible 3 stars
6) The Sessions 3 stars
7) The Sapphires (Australian musical) 3 stars
8) Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners (documentary) 3 stars
9) Tai Chi 0 (epic Kung Fu flick) 3 stars
10) When Day Breaks (Croatian drama) 3 stars
One of the great pleasures of going to the Toronto International Film Festival, beyond getting a sneak peak at the next big movies of the fall, is hearing filmmakers and actors talk about their process.
This writer is in the minority in calling the film a reasonably entertaining, but not all-that-exciting, recreation of this joint Canadian-CIA operation that wasn’t declassified until 1997.
The Master, the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood), might get some Oscar consideration for stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, but it lacks an emotional connection.
I've got a new movie to champion. David O. Russell, writer-director of Three Kings and more recently, The Fighter, introduced his latest, Silver Linings Playbook, to a gala audience last night at the Toronto International Film Festival, and this morning (Sunday, Sept. 9) to the press with a media screening and press conference.
As the summer movie season winds down, the focus switches to the fall and the beginning of the cinematic frenzy known as the Oscar race. The traditional start of the search for Oscar worthy filmmaking begins at the Toronto International Film Festival, which I will be attending for the 25th time.
After five days and 18 movies viewed at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, I’ve got a few favorites and a little Oscar buzz. David O. Russell, writer-director of Three Kings and more recently, The Fighter, introduced his latest, Silver Linings Playbook.
When Brad Pitt and George Clooney are in Hollywood North to promote movies, the media blitz hits the frenzy button and rarely dies down. And so it was on the opening weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival with Pitt in town to promote the baseball movie Moneyball, and Clooney ...
When Brad Pitt and George Clooney are in Toronto to promote movies, the media blitz hits the frenzy button and rarely dies down. I managed to get into a packed press conference featuring Pitt, his Moneyball costars Chris Pratt, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and director Bennett Miller (who directed Hoffman in his Oscar-winning Capote performance.
So, which movie will emerge from the Toronto International Film Festival this year as an Oscar frontrunner? Last year it was The King’s Speech, and previous seasons have launched Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, and American Beauty to Oscar glory.