The Oscar race has barely started, but there is already a laundry list of once-expected contenders that will not get released in 2014 and will try to be in the game next year.
TORONTO - When an actor wins an Academy Award he or she usually tries to work with the director who helped guide them to the top of the mountain again. Often, it has great results. After winning a best supporting Oscar for "Terms of Endearment" Jack Nicholson reunited with James L. Brooks on "As Good As It Gets" and won best actor. Jennifer Lawrence immediately worked with her "Silver Linings Playbook" maestro, David O. Russell, on "American Hustle" which resulted in back to back nominations. Diane Weist won her first Oscar for Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" and her second for his comedy "Bullets Over Broadway." That's just one reason it's somewhat surprising the prolific Denzel Washington took 12 years to reunite with his "Training Day" director, Antoine Fuqua for "The Equalizer."
The race for Oscar is akin to a political campaign, and the first three Fall film festivals have made a significant impact on all the major races. Consider that Venice, Telluride and Toronto take place within three weeks of each other and you have a huge indicator of how the season will progress. With that in mind, here are eight major takeaways that are still buzzing in our heads as the Oscar race begins.
TORONTO — It’s quite remarkable that up until now there has never been a biopic on the life of Bobby Fischer, arguably the greatest chess player of the 20th Century. Yes, his name was used in the acclaimed 1993 film “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” but that referenced his potential successor. Fisher’s life and his greatest moment, a dramatic match against his Russian counterpart, are finally depicted in the new drama “Pawn Sacrifice,” which screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
TORONTO — If it's September, not only is it fall film festival time, but it's also time for the return of the Contender Countdown. Yes, your weekly snapshot of the Best Picture race is back and who knew 2014 might actually deliver another real race?
TORONTO — “Titanic” was a seminal moment in Kate Winslet’s career, but she made it clear even during the film's Oscar run and in the years following that it was a more grueling experience than she ever expected. In the years since she’s avoided anything that came close to those shooting conditions, when she spent weeks in water tanks and wading through water. That is until her new period drama, “A Little Chaos,” which screened for the press at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival Wednesday before its Saturday night premiere.
TORONTO — Anna Kendrick is giving me a look that says, “We are so not doing that again.”
For the second time in two weeks, I’ve now stood up from an interview and mistakenly deleted the audio file.* Unlike Jon Stewart in Telluride, however, I have now mentioned this to Kendrick in some bizarre attempt for sympathy (or, perhaps, trying to laugh it off to myself). In any event, she needn’t have worried. She’s got a busy day ahead of her without me in the mix and this is where those veteran reporter skills come in handy now and then. A mad dash to the next venue and you jot down as much as you can remember. In this case, sadly, without the funny quotes.
TORONTO — Chances are that anyone who saw Daniel Barnz's "Phoebe in Wonderland" at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival has been wondering if we'd ever see "that" talented director again. In the years since, he tried to jump on the YA wagon with the misfire "Beastly" and got terribly lost in the studio world with 2012's "Won't Back Down." He may still be a little rough around the edges, but the Barnz who showed so much promise with "Phoebe" is back with the new drama "Cake," which premiered Monday at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. And as much as "Cake" is something of a comeback for Barnz, it's really on most people's radar for being a rare dramatic turn for Jennifer Aniston, and she doesn't disappoint.
TORONTO — Julianne Moore has already had quite a year. In May, she surprised many by taking the Best Actress honor at the Cannes Film Festival for David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars.” On Monday night, “Still Alice” premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and it may feature one of the finest performances of her already illustrious career.
TORONTO — Hollywood has long embraced the trope of the suffering superstar. You know the story, don’t you? A talented but misunderstood singer or actor struggles with the downside of living in the spotlight. Often there is a parent trying to live dreams through his or her child’s adult career. There might even be a hero who will appear from outside the creative world to protect the artist from the perils of fame and fortune. Yes, this is a narrative idea that has been explored countless times in movies and TV shows. It’s also the very simple logline for the new Relativity Media drama "Beyond the Lights." Thanks to the masterful direction of Gina Prince-Bythewood, however, the film shatters these cliché origins and turns into an unexpectedly electric and moving romantic drama.