Sunday, September 19, 2010

TIFF: The People Speak.

Unlike many of the A-list festivals, Toronto does not do the big celebrity jury thing to hand out their awards. So it's up to festivalgoers to vote and the Audience Awards result. This is why, roughly speaking, the TIFF winner usually goes on to Oscar success, popularity being the key to both honors. This year's winner The King's Speech can now follow the same path as famous films before it like Whale Rider, Precious or Slumdog Millionaire. We already suspected, long before it screened anywhere (it was among my Early Bird predictions in April) that this would be an Oscar hit.

Audience Awards
Feature:
The Kings Speech by Tom Hooper
Can we just give Colin Firth the best actor statue now? Given the momentum from last year, don't you think there's no way they're not going to hand him the statue this year? We might be looking at a boring Best Actor race with no real competition, even though the nominations themselves will have plenty of competition.
runner up: The First Grader by Justin Chadwick
This one I hadn't heard of but it sounds inspirational enough to play well with Oscar, too. It's based on a true story of a Kenyan man who showed up on the first day that free primary education was offered, ready to be a student... at 84 years young. This is only Chadwick's second feature film. His first was The Other Boleyn Girl.

Midnight Madness: Stake Land by Jim Mickle
I love the poster so much I had to include it (pictured right). But even I -- who once loved all things vampyr -- am deadly sick of the fanged beasties given today's pop culture. There's vampires everywhere you look. These ones look like the bloody gross monster versions though and I prefer the kind that are beautiful (but still monstrous at heart).
runner up: Fubar II by Michael Dowse
Documentary: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie by Sturla Gunnarsson
This is one of several current environmentally focused documentaries.
runner up: Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzman
Will we see either of these titles in the documentary Oscar race? I can't even pretend to be able to describe this one for you.


Canadian Specific Prizes
Feature:
Incendies by Denis Villeneuve. This will likely be the Canadian choice for Oscar submission for the Best Foreign Language Film race though nothing is official yet. Sony Pictures Classics is handling the release and they do good work with foreign fare... though unfortunately they almost never release them in the year of their Oscar eligibility (unless they're from Almodóvar) so we're looking at 2011 here.

Incendies

I've only seen one Villeneuve picture before, a short film called Next Floor, but it was very very impressive -- here's Nick's review from our time on the shorts jury in Nashville that year. Incendies is about twins who try to piece together their mother's last days in the Middle East could be a real contender. Keep an eye out.
First Feature: High Cost of Living by Deborah Chow.
Short: Les fleurs de l’age (Little Flowers) by Vincent Biron which is 18 minutes long and about schoolchildren (though it takes place in the summer)

FIPRESCI Critics Prizes
Discovery: Beautiful Boy by Shawn Ku. This film stars Maria Bello and Michael Sheen as the parents of a college student involved in a shooting massacre. I suspect we'll see this in 2011 now that Anchor Bay picked it up. I keep rooting for Maria to get another role as demanding / high profile as A History of Violence. Will this be it or does only a tiny release await?
Special Presentation: L'Amour Fou by Pierre Thoretton which is a film about fashion god Yves St. Laurent

The big takeaway news though, now that TIFF 2010 has wrapped, is that there were a lot of sales. Far more films found distributors than people were originally suspecting. The Los Angeles Times even called it a "flood" of sales. That's good news for us. If current official or rumored plans hold, we'll see Rabbit Hole this year from Lionsgate and sometime next year we'll get the Lincoln assassination courtroom drama The Conspirator from Lionsgate and Roadside as well as the father/son gay-themed drama Beginners starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer next year from Focus to name a few dramatic examples.

44 comments:

x said...

So happy for Nostalgia for the Light! Gorgeous, transcendent film that does justice to its moving subject matter without sentimentality and bombast. It'll probably go nowhere near Oscar. I fear it's too slow and meditative for the Academy

x said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think you're forgetting James Franco, his performance has been getting better reviews than Firth.

NATHANIEL R said...

anon -- well... i'm assuming Oscar voters will be more inclined to treasure Firth. As it's not all about reviews.

Franco's performance --it's a wild guess ---i'm thinking they'd view the nomination as a reward. They rarely give the statues to a young guy.

cal roth said...

Firth - Hard-working, former nominee, respected by critics

Giamatti - Hard-working, former nominee, respected by critics AND American.

+Barney's Version will probably get a huge push from critics, that may be tired of Firth from last season.

cal roth said...

Giamatti is our winner, IMO. And "The King's Speech" doesn't seem to have a Best Actor model role. A hesitant king?

/3rtfu11 said...

Good for Firth. He had to take a backseat last year because Jeff Bridges was due. I would love to see Leo here for Shutter Island but I suspect nobody cares. Maybe just maybe Dicaprio is better off not working with Martin Scorsese chasing his Oscar dreams. I think a not so obvious Oscar bait vehicle will be his ticket to glory. Something where he’s relaxed: letting go of pretense. All his intensity is going to waste on the general audience and isn’t doing much for him with Academy voters.

cal roth said...

@/3rtfu11 I care about DiCaprio. He was AMAZING, his second best performance ever (First is Romeo). There must be fans of this turn. If De Niro got a nomination for Cape Fear (bad reviews, remake, etc) why can't DiCaprio make it?

/3rtfu11 said...

cal roth,

Nobody but us chickens are the ones talking -- I don’t feel it. If it happens I will feel conflicted because I don’t mind Firth winning with no Leo Shutter Island in the race.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

Good for Firth. He had to take a backseat last year because Jeff Bridges was due.

Yes, I don't think critics will be tired of him this year because he was largely forgotten about last year because of Jeff Bridges' sweep. Plus, The King's Speech seems very baity, and a good bet for other big categories like Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor, and perhaps Supporting Actress too.

Still I'm not sure if Firth can maintain frontrunner status all throughout the awards season, but for now I think he's around the right age and has the best momentum of the other potential actors that I think will be nominated (Bardem, Franco, Wahlberg, Duvall).

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NATHANIEL R said...

cal & /3rtfull - somebody will have to explain to me someday what's special about Leo in Shutter Island. I think he handles anguish and a particular male sort of emotional bafflement very well (here and in other movies) but a whole performance? I just don't see how that one is particularly interesting. But maybe my reaction is colored by not liking the film very much.

He'd be a suitable option right now but we've yet to see most of the acclaimed performances.

x -- i guess i should seek that out. the descriptions sound baffling. I can't begin to paraphrase them.

cal roth said...

@Rich Aunt Pennybags

I still don't see where this frontrunner status for Firth comes from. You don't win Oscars if your character isn't able to talk in public. Best Actor likes assertive, showy, active parts.

And Brit actors usually win for American movies or great heros. I imagine AMPAS members seeing The King's Speech and wondering what's so difficult in playing a guy that can't make a speech. Best Actor is about visible character arcs, you know? Helen Mirren would never win Best Actor for The Queen. It's not about the performance, really. I think you all are falling into wishful thinking.

And, in terms of momentum, a lot of people think Giamatti had should won by now, after two egregious snubs in American Splendor and Sideways. His part isn't also that bait, but when Oscar goes for comedy, they do it with verbal foul-mouthed guys.

And, if you dig into Best Actor history, the last winner with this same Firth/George VI profile is... I can't find it. Maybe David Niven in 1958?

That's it. I really don't see Firth winning for this role. I don't know who's gonna win (Giammatti is a risky bet, too), but I am almost sure Firth won't.

Boyd said...

Nostalgia for the Light was the best film I saw in Cannes. Nate, you HAVE to see it.

OtherRobert said...

So I can get my hopes up for a Rabbit Hole sweep at the Oscars, you say? Good.

Volvagia said...

Huh? Could it be a complete surprise, Cal? Something no one's thinking about? How does this sound: Jack Black for Gulliver's Travels, or, depending on the role size, Justin Timberlake for Yogi Bear. (I'm serious. Those are both full performances. Yes, the Yogi Bear role is mo-capped, but actors really should get on that boat.) They are quite outside the Oscar comfort zone, but 1. A great feature adaptation of Gulliver's is necessary by now and 2. From what we see in the Yogi Bear trailer, Timberlake has executed a spot-on impression.

Volvagia said...

I think Casino Jack (switched back to original title from Bagman) is a better bet for Barry Pepper in supporting actor. (It's a Bio Dramedy and from the little we know of that genre's reception (Ed Wood alone), we know that THE LEADS DON'T GET NOMINATED.) So if The Fighter turns out to be one, I think it will be safer to drop Wahlberg than to keep him.

So: We know:

Firth, The King's Speech
Franco, 127 Hours
Giamatti, Barney's Version

After that, I see that the final 2 slots are between:

Bardem, Biutiful
Wahlberg, The Fighter (if it's not a dramedy)
Gosling, Blue Valentine
Bridges, True Grit
Gyllenhall, Love and Other Drugs
Broadbent, Another Year
Douglas, Wall Street 2
Eisenberg, The Social Network
Depp, The Tourist
and the potential total surprises:
Black, Gulliver's Travels (makeup potential for avoiding School of Rock, aka, "The Best Studio Comedy since Tootsie." Plus, surely Gulliver's Travels is one of the few comic novels gifted with PRESTIGE.)
Timberlake, Yogi Bear (Spot on impression. Could inspire a lot of nostalgia.)

Amanda said...

I have a hard time believing anything from the person who made "The Other Boleyn Girl" ca be good. That film was pure crap. Very very very bad. Historicaly innacurate, misleading, simplistic, silly, the conflicts and the historical setting and context were dumbed down,the historical aspects were plain wrong as they made it "easier for the crowds" and the acting was simpky atrocious.

They turned the whole thing into an episode of Gossip Girl in the court. Natalie was Blair, the evil scheming jealous brunette, and Scarllet was Serena, the angelic but kinda slutty blonde with the charisma and a heart of gold.

Volvagia said...

Except it's not that it "can be good" it's "can it be shameless bait?" The answer: "Any movie about an illiterate 84 year old African, even if directed by Mike Nichols, is shameless bait."

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

Rich Aunt Pennybags

I still don't see where this frontrunner status for Firth comes from. You don't win Oscars if your character isn't able to talk in public. Best Actor likes assertive, showy, active parts.

And Brit actors usually win for American movies or great heros. I imagine AMPAS members seeing The King's Speech and wondering what's so difficult in playing a guy that can't make a speech. Best Actor is about visible character arcs, you know? Helen Mirren would never win Best Actor for The Queen. It's not about the performance, really. I think you all are falling into wishful thinking.

And, in terms of momentum, a lot of people think Giamatti had should won by now, after two egregious snubs in American Splendor and Sideways. His part isn't also that bait, but when Oscar goes for comedy, they do it with verbal foul-mouthed guys.

And, if you dig into Best Actor history, the last winner with this same Firth/George VI profile is... I can't find it. Maybe David Niven in 1958?

That's it. I really don't see Firth winning for this role. I don't know who's gonna win (Giammatti is a risky bet, too), but I am almost sure Firth won't.


I think Firth is a frontrunner now just because the rest of the rest of the field is so wide open right now. A lot of the other contenders seem too young to actually be in contention for the win (Eisenberg, Franco, Gosling). A few others like possibly Duvall, Bardem, and maybe Douglas probably will more likely serve as filler than a real threat to win since they've all won before, and are unlikely to win with the movies they might be nominated for this year. David O. Russell's never been an Academy pet, and even if The Fighter does get nominated in several categories, right now it seems Mark Wahlberg might be upstaged by his supporting co-stars; although, if the movie gets a Best Picture nomination, I think he's in just because he's the lead, and leading actor seems so weak right now. Further, I'm not sure being in two very successful films is enough for DiCaprio to be nominated this year even if does feel like a weak year right now because of the vote splitting, and because I don't know if they'll look all the way back to February if they need a filler nominee.

As for Giamatti, while he is a past nominee, it doesn't seem like Barney's Version as a whole will be as baity as The King's Speech. Maybe The King's Speech won't inspire as much passion as like perhaps Barney's Version might, but TKS seems really safe, and something that they're likely to nominate in more categories than BV not just Best Actor. There's not much else right now that seems to be that baity with a leading actor in it whose age wouldn't work against him, so Firth is my frontrunner.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...
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Volvagia said...

So less Murnau's Nosferatu or Twilight, more Interview with the Vampire or Lugosi's Dracula in regard to vampires?

IslandLiberal said...

Best Actor is about visible character arcs, you know?

At the start of the movie, he can't make a speech, and bombs at trying; at the end of the movie, he delivers a rousing one. That's as visible as they come; anyone can understand that.

And, if you dig into Best Actor history, the last winner with this same Firth/George VI profile is... I can't find it. Maybe David Niven in 1958?

Adrien Brody, 2002, would be an obvious comparison; maybe Hoffman in 2005 too, in terms of emotional repression (Capote had a lot of showy mannerisms, but not emotion).

cal roth said...

@Rich Aunt Pennybags

Firth is the frontrunner for the nomination, not for the win, I think.

@IslandLiberal

Becoming able to make a speech is not that much of an arc, if you ask an Academy member. What does he do in between? He goes to the front and commands troops to the win? No, he listen to advices from Geoffrey Rush. That's not Best Actor-y, sorry.

Brody would be a fair comparision only if you forget he was nominated against 4 former winner in an Holocaust movie. Even is part is not that uneven: he had to fight to survive, he grew a beard and looked hungry in a movie that looks much more "important" (hate the word) than The King's Speech.

On Hoffman, NOT AT ALL, because we, the audience, were allowed to every hint of weakness of Capote: we saw him jealous, drunk, disturbed by guilt, with his face full of tears, laughing out loud. All those things were not only mannerism. Every word and look of the performance had a different note to handle (anguish, pride, desperation), and the audience knew all the time what was happening. I really really doubt Firth will have more than 1/10 of the notes Hoffman had to play. It's a movie about oratory for God's sake, at least on paper!

It's not like he will have his last scene with the big speech during the whole screentime. That would be Paul Scofield, and it's not the case.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

I did see this at In Contention today from Kris Tapley, Sony will be releasing the film for a week in December and wide in January. Following the same path as The Last Station last year.
that Barney's Version.

I still think Firth is the frontrunner for now though.

/3rtfu11 said...

somebody will have to explain to me someday what's special about Leo in Shutter Island. I think he handles anguish and a particular male sort of emotional bafflement very well (here and in other movies) but a whole performance? I just don't see how that one is particularly interesting. But maybe my reaction is colored by not liking the film very much.

Shutter Island is a bust. Leo’s performance is appropriately OTT. However the final twenty minutes of the film gives a Million Dollar Baby level emotional twist. Every beat in the flashback sequence is the best acting from Dicaprio since the early 90’s with This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

I know what you’re thinking one sequence in a performance doesn’t equal a win let alone a nomination but he’s a movie star who doesn’t get his fair shake in spite of the privileges he gets being a movie star. Sort of like Brad Pitt except Dicaprio has better chops. Although one thing’s for sure Brad Pitt’s best work is when he’s relaxed. When there’s no pretense he’s cooking with grease. You hear that Joseph Gordon Levitt, Christian Bale, James Franco and Leo Dicaprio --- relax and the rest will follow.

IslandLiberal said...

It's a movie about oratory for God's sake, at least on paper!

It's about struggling with a handicap, about examining George's backstory and how his family experience exacerbated his problems (parent issues), and about bridging class and nationality divides (between George and Dr. Logue, the Australian commoner).

IslandLiberal said...

Moreover, since your concern seems to be that the movie isn't "obvious" enough in its character's arc, it's been pretty uniformly described as a crowd-pleaser (and given the Audience Award, there's some quantification of that) - that hardly suggests a film that lacks a recognizable dramatic arc and performance.

Volvagia said...

Wait. "DiCaprio has better chops"? He's only played 2 types of characters well. 1. The damaged or neurotic man (See Gilbert Grape, The Departed, Shutter Island, Inception, Blood Diamond, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Beach, This Boy's Life, Total Eclipse, The Basketball Diaries, Marvin's Room) or 2. The Cocky Romantic (See Titanic, Romeo + Juliet, The Quick and the Dead, The Man in the Iron Mask, Catch Me If You Can). Brad Pitt has more demonstrable range: Stoner (True Romance), Damaged Romantic (Interview With the Vampire, Meet Joe Black), Psychos (Fight Club, 12 Monkeys, Kalifornia, Inglourious Basterds, Assassination of Jesse James...(you know the rest)), an impressive oddity (Snatch), the Coolest guy in the room (Oceans series, Thelma and Louise) and a dumbell audience surrogate (Burn After Reading).

cal roth said...

Being a crowdpleaser doesn't mean people think an actor deserves best of the year awards. Think Shakespeare in Love. Best Picture, Brit crowdpleaser, but nobody ever felt Fiennes should have won.

Of course we have to consider the performance, but intellectual arcs always get little attention unless you're absolutely mad and have to recover your sanity, shouting.

Not being able to make a speech doesn't sound THAT HUGE of a handicap. And the making of a leader have to be more heroic than, you know, overcoming a phobia.

IslandLiberal said...

Think Shakespeare in Love. Best Picture, Brit crowdpleaser, but nobody ever felt Fiennes should have won.

But tons of people are already talking about Colin Firth; only Franco's work rivals him in buzz currently. Hence, their cases are not the same.

NATHANIEL R said...

volvagia -- yeah, i think Pitt has more range than DiCaprio as well. But i think the difference is that what Pitt does best (funky loose wild freaky) is not what you win acclaim for (in the traditional sense of prizes and people going "what an actor!") whereas what DiCaprio does best (anguish) is just that.

and the other difference is that when Brad Pitt isn't good in something he is worse than when DiCaprio isn't good in something ;)

everyone -- yeah, i don't see how struggling with a handicap or physical limitation (ANY type ... even if it's just speech impediments) is not prime bait in that particular category. We all know that men are rewarded for playing characters who go without their full physical/mental abilities whereas women are rewarded for playing characters who go without their full beauty.

it's an obvious double standard based entirely on gender stereotypes as to wthat's "of value"

NATHANIEL R said...

volvagia -- yeah i despise the toothless Twilight but i also don't want vampires just ugly/monstrous. to me if you utilize the sex portion of the mythos, you've lost the entire raison d'etre of vampires. otherwise you're just dealing with generic monsters that happen to have fangs.

rich aunt -- i probably should have thought of Giamatti when i was typing that Firth has it in the bag. Giamatti is also considered "overdue" -- neither of them are "overdue" in my estimation (for a win) but my estimation doesn't matter ;) -- so if it comes down to both of them, maybe we'll have a real contest for once?

cal roth said...

Nathaniel, a handicap is not only a handicap. Overcoming it can make you sweat, fight, cry and shout, or can make you listen to Geoffrey Rush. Not every handicap is prime bait.

cal roth said...

Ang Giamatti is exactly as overdue as Philip Seymour HOffman whe ge got his lead nomination, that same character actor shines as Cinderella win that we've seen since Borgnine in Marty.

Volvagia said...

Um... Franco doesn't need to be told to relax. He's managing a perfect balancing act of comedy and drama. Next up for him: What sounds like a raunchy fantasy comedy called Your Highness.

Volvagia said...

No, Giamatti is 5X as overdue. Before Capote, Hoffman's only leading role was Owning Mahowny. Before Barney's Version, Giamatti has led/co-led 4 movies and a TV mini series: Sideways, Big Fat Liar, American Splendor, John Adams and Cold Souls.

Glenn said...

The term "overdue" in this thread is baffling me. Do y'all even know what overdue means? It doesn't mean "he was pretty good that one time and the academy didn't give him the award." Overdue is Jeff Bridges last year or Annette/Julianne this year. People who have routinely given masterful, year-best performances and gone unrewarded.

But, I guess, I didn't even think Kate Winslet was "overdue" in the traditional sense because, apart from maybe Eternal Sunshine (and even then...), there is another contender in all of her nominated years that gave a better performance.

"Overdue" is becoming the new "lock!" No, Natalie Portman is not a lock. No, whatever movie that came out this week to good reviews (The Town for instance) is not a lock. etc. ay ay ay!

cal roth said...

"have routinely given masterful, year-best performances and gone unrewarded."

What is routinely?

Giamatti gave three year-best performances in a decade, for Man on The Moon, as supporting, and for American Splendor and Sideways, as leading.

He may not be the most overdue working actor, but he surely is the most overdue actor in this race.

NATHANIEL R said...

cal -- well that just shows you how debatable "overdue" AND "year best" are. I actually don't remember him PERIOD in man on the moon and i liked the movie. I thought he overplayed his hand in American Splendor but agree he was splendid in SIDEWAYS though not "best of the year". That'd be Jeff Bridges in DOOR IN THE FLOOR.

cal roth said...

Anyway, if Giamatti is not overdue because he was not the Best of the year, Bening is not overdue either. Even you, a diehard fan, regret the gold medal and said it should go the Imelda! Then, why Is Bening overdue?

But, still, getting to the point: do you think that, if AMPAS nominates both Giamatti and Firth, who will they consider more overdue?

A guy that, like them or not, gave two performances considered for nominations and that got a nomination?

Or this other guy, British, that got only one nomination and only a performance that received attention during Oscar season? (I don't remember Firth being ever in Oscar contention prior to A Single Man).

This question is more objective, I think.

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Volvagia said...

My Last Word: Except, how many times has Brad Pitt been "Bad." Post Fight Club, he's maybe only been bad once. (I count Troy as a "non-performance" that doesn't count toward his batting record. No, it was Babel. And what makes that more disgusting was that he was likely the 6th place that year.)