HOLLYWOOD—Let the awards race begin! Hollywood celebrities are flocking to the Toronto International Film Festival (which runs from September 5–15), where Oscar contenders are born. While the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin and Venice are all more glamorous and exotic film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival has become the kingmaker when it comes to the Academy Awards.
Since 2008, all but one of the films that have won the festival’s People Choice Award have gone on to become nominated for Best Picture, and many films that have premiered there have gone on to win the biggest Oscar prize. Remember “Slumdog Millionaire,” it was at Toronto back in 2008 where the buzz hit full swing, winning the People’s Choice Award before grossing $377 million worldwide and taking home eight Oscars.
“The King’s Speech,” back in 2010, created a huge buzz in Hollywood. “12 Years A Slave,” back in 2013, created amazing buzz at the Toronto Film Festival, it became an important film ensuring its Oscar victory. “Spotlight,” back in 2015, proved to be bigger than the sum of its parts, becoming the first Best Picture winner in over 60 years to only win one other Oscar, Best Adapted Screenplay. Last year, “Green Book,” a Best Picture winner had so much buzz at the Toronto Film Festival nothing could stop it.
Let’s look at some of the films that audiences and Academy voters will be buzzing about. Last year we were honored and blessed with Lady Gaga in “A Star is Born,” yet the Best Picture winner was “Green Brook.” So let’s take a look at possible contenders for this year; “The Joker,” we see Joaquin Phoenix stepping into the role once held by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and Jared Leto. It’s inspired by Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” which paints the future ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ as a would-be comedian pushed into supervillainy by an uncaring world.
Than we have “Judy.” Renee Zellweger is back! The actress is getting major buzz transforming into Judy Garland in this biopic set in the waning days of the singer’s life. She even did her own singing which is impressive. Audiences will surely love to see her in this film.
Adam Sandler stars in “Uncut Gems.” Sandler pushes his acting skills to a whole new level. He plays fast-talking jewelry dealer Howard Ratner, a man who spends his days trying to make money while being followed by the men he owes money to, an exhausting lifestyle he can’t seem to escape. Very impressive acting by Sandler. The film is currently showing at the Toronto Film Festival and will be released in the U.S. on December 13.
Jamie Lee Curtis stars in “Knives Out,” in the most star-studded ensemble of the year as the suspiciously no-nonsense daughter of the man whose death sets a murder mystery in motion. It’s about a detective and a trooper who travel to a lush estate to interview the relatives of a patriarch who died during his 85th birthday celebration. It is set to be released on November 27.
Eddie Murphy stars in “Dolemite Is My Name,” which is a crowd pleaser. He stars as Rudy Ray Moore, the struggling entertainer who finally struck gold when he created the trash-talking, Dolemite persona, based on the tall tales of a local homeless man, and then cemeted his place in cultural history. This is Murphy’s first screen role in three years. His acting is superb, and the best since his performance in the 2006 musical “Dreamgirls.”
What’s really interesting is that many of the showcased films at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival already have distribution, buyers are clawing at the projects up for sale and snapping up what’s left. Last week, Bryce Dallas Howard’s documentary “Dad’s” sold to Apple TV Plus, which was the streamer’s first acquisition at the festival. IFC picked up Russell Crowe’s “The True History of the Kelly Gang.”
The film “Lyrebird,” was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, including North American, last week. The film “Greed,” was acquired by Sony Pictures, which stars Isla Fisher and Steve Coogan. The movie centers around the world of high fashion, and a greedy billionaire played by Coogan. Netflix acquired the film “The Platform,” set in a dystopian future about a person who voluntarily incarcerates himself with the promise of increased social mobility.
Magnolia Picture acquired the North American distribution rights to a French love story “Two of Us.” It is a movie about two older women who live across the hall from one another, but have been keeping their romance secret for decades. Magnolia is planning a theatrical release for the film in early 2020. Bleecker Street picked up for the U.S. rights to the British, feel good drama “Military Wives.” It stars Kristin Scott Thomas, as a woman who leads a choir of housewives while their husbands are deployed overseas in Afghanistan.
Rose’s Scoop: Stars took to social media to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.