<p>A jovial moment from &quot;Where do we go now?&quot;</p>

A jovial moment from "Where do we go now?"

No Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award bump for Oscar this year

'Where do we go now?' a surprise winner

The Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award's current streak of influencing the best picture race has dome to an end.  The past three years have seen "Slumdog Millionaire," "Precious" and "The King's Speech" each secure the festival's highest honor.  With the announcement that Lebanese drama "Where do we go now?" is this year's winner, Toronto's influence on awards season has been tempered a bit.

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<p>Melissa McCarthy is crowned best actress in a comedy series for her work on &quot;Mike and Molly&quot;&nbsp;during the 2011 Emmy Awards.</p>

Melissa McCarthy is crowned best actress in a comedy series for her work on "Mike and Molly" during the 2011 Emmy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Can 'Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy go from Emmy winner to Oscar winner?

Her surprise Emmy win may prompt an unexpected campaign

For the first time in Academy Awards history, the Emmy Awards might have given a hint to a serious Oscar nominee. 

Well, maybe.

At face value, Melissa McCarthy's stunning win for best actress in a comedy series just looks like one of those surprise upsets that happen every once and awhile on most awards shows. Perhaps presumed favorites Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Laura Linney or Eddie Falco just cancelled each other out to allow McCarthy to sneak in (nothing against Martha Plimpton, but she didn't have a chance).  Granted, that may be part of the reason McCarthy won, but it clearly isn't because of her sitcom "Mike & Molly." The CBS show is hardly a critic's darling and its "Molly" recognition was the show's only major nomination.  What was more apparent, is that the Groundlings veteran got a big boost from her supporting role in the monster hit "Bridesmaids" this summer. In an ensemble of very funny women including Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Rose "Who knew?" Byrne, McCarthy's butch and man-hungry Megan was an audience favorite.

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Gregory Ellwood predicts...

Gregory Ellwood predicts...

UPDATED: February 19, 2013

Best Picture
"Argo"

Best Director
Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"

Best Supporting Actor
Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Chris Terrio, "Argo"

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"

Best Cinematography
Claudio Miranda, "Life of Pi"

Best Costume Design
Jacqueline Durran, "Anna Karenina"

Best Film Editing
William Goldberg, "Argo"

Best Makeup

Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Best Music (Original Score)
Mychael Danna, "Life of Pi"

Best Music (Original Song)
Adele, Paul Epworth, "Skyfall" from "Skyfall"

Best Production Design
David Gropman, Anna Pinnock, "Life of Pi"

Best Sound Editing
Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers, "Skyfall"

Best Sound Mixing
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, and Simon Hayes, "Les Miserables"

Best Visual Effects
"Life of Pi"

Best Foreign Language Film
Michael Haneke, "Amour"

Best Animated Feature Film
"Wreck-It-Ralph"

Best Documentary Feature
"Searching for Sugar Man"

Best Documentary Short
"Mondays at Racine"

Best Short Film (Animated)
"Paperman"

Best Short Film (Live Action)
"Buzkashi Boys"

<p>Bryan Cranston talks &quot;Drive&quot;</p>

Bryan Cranston talks "Drive"

Bryan Cranston turns the corner in 'Drive' and makes 'Argo' revelations

Have you taken 'Drive' for a spin yet?

TORONTO - Have you gone for a "Drive" yet?  Nicolas Winding Refn's critically acclaimed thriller finally debuted on Friday and if you haven't seen it already, what are you waiting for?  The film's stylistic flourishes aside, one of the most impressive aspects of "Drive" is its ensemble cast.  Sure, the story is the Driver's (Ryan Gosling), but Refn and screenwriter Hossein Amini have made sure the other characters from James Sallis' novel aren't slighted.  That means memorable turns from veterans such as Albert Brooks, Ron Pearlman, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston.

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<p>Brad Pitt pondering or bored during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for &quot;Moneyball.&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt pondering or bored during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Moneyball."

Credit: AP Photo

Toronto: Who got an Oscar bounce and who didn't?

Robert Forester, Brad PItt, Albert Brooks get big boosts

TORONTO - The most star-friendly of the three awards season kickoff festivals, Toronto has been a buzz boon to many Oscar players over the years. "Brokeback Mountain," "Slumdog Millionaire," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "Precious" and "Up in the Air" all found themselves recipients of Canadian love.  However, like all festivals, Toronto giveth and Toronto taketh away.  And in the world of award season buzz there are just as many casualties as winners from the 2011 edition of the festival.

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<p>Michelle Yeoh meets  Aung San Suu Kyi supporters at the world premiere of &quot;The Lady&quot;&nbsp;earlier this week at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.</p>

Michelle Yeoh meets Aung San Suu Kyi supporters at the world premiere of "The Lady" earlier this week at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.

Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese

Michelle Yeoh enters the best actress race as 'The Lady'

Hong Kong film icon on playing Aung San Suu Kyi

TORONTO - Michelle Yeoh has been to the top of the cinematic mountain.  An icon of Asian cinema, her role in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" made her a global star.  And yet, the reception she's received after playing Nobel Peace Prize-winning Aung San Suu Kyi in Luc Besson's new biopic "The Lady" is a completely new experience.

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<p>Albert Brooks</p>

Albert Brooks

Watch: Albert Brooks on his dark and Oscar-worthy turn in 'Drive'

Legendary filmmaker and comedian one of the reasons why it's one of 2011's best

With only five to six major films left to catch for this calendar year, I can unequivocally say there isn't a scenario where "Drive" will not make my top ten list.  Believe the hype, it's that good.

In fact, Nicholas Winding Refn's latest is pretty damn close to a modern classic.  It's a stylish thriller that depicts contemporary Los Angeles in a light that hasn't been seen since "To Live or Die in LA" or, possibly, "Heat." The film features a stellar cast including leading, but quiet man Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston (possibly battling Sam Jackson for the title of "hardest working man in show business"), a scene stealing Ron Perlman and an absolutely fantastic Albert Brooks.

The "Defending Your Life" director and star plays Bernie Rose, an LA businessman whose under the  radar ventures tend to run in the illegal variety. It's an unconventional role for Brooks -- one of the reasons he fought for it -- but only at first glance.  After watching "Drive" it's hard to see anyone else playing the role. Actors known for their comedic chips playing bad is nothing new, but Brooks gives Rose a somewhat humble and relaxed demeanor at first glance.  When things don't go his way?  Well, it's a striking change.  So, it was with great excitement that I sat down with Brooks in Toronto to discuss his potentially Oscar-winning turn.*

*And let's be clear. If he isn't nominated its one criminal act Rose wouldn't put up with.

Brooks, who is currently filming Judd Apatow's "This is Forty," made a lot of revelations about his work on "Drive."  1.  Just like his co-star Mulligan, he fought for the role having to convince Refn he was the right guy.  2. Unlike Gosling and Mulligan who convinced Refn to remove much of the dialogue between their characters, Brooks' Bernie was the opposite.  Brooks worked with Refn to actually add more lines to break through the "quiet" of the rest of the movie.  3. Brooks doesn't see Rose as inherently evil, just a guy trying to keep his small little pocket of the universe going.  And when the driver (Gosling) disrupts it?  Well, Rose is forced to take action he'd prefer not to.

You can watch the entire interview with Brooks embedded in this post.  Look for a chat with Cranston in the next day or two.  And, moreover, don't miss "Drive" when it opens nationwide tomorrow.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.

<p>Chris New and Tom Cullen in Weekend</p>

Chris New and Tom Cullen in Weekend

Exclusive: A revealing clip from indie romance 'Weekend'

Is it the gay 'Like Crazy'?

One of the biggest surprises from this year's SXSW Film Festival was audience award winner "Weekend."  It's not that the Austin festival wouldn't be expected to embrace a British indie romance, but a British, indie, gay romance with very explicit talk of sexual acts?  Well, that might be a surprise audience favorite just about anywhere.

The directorial debut of Andrew Haigh, "Weekend" follows a remarkable three days between Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) after a one night stand after meeting each other at a U.K. club (the city appears to be Manchester). The next morning it's apparent there is the potential for more and the rest of the weekend involves a romantic dance of discovery between the late twentysomethings.  Unfortunately, it's all transpiring with a looming deadline on the way.  Glen is headed to Portland on Sunday for art school.  Will he go? Or, as his friends tell Russell, will he stay because he's chicken or because Russell is a good late excuse?

Granted, the picture's storyline isn't groundbreaking, but the dialogue between the two is haunting realistic and you want these two lonely souls to find a way to work it out pretty early on.  The film also shares an intimate and gorgeous cinematic style similar to Drake Doremus' "Like Crazy" or Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" that seems elevate the stakes for both characters.  It also doesn't hurt that Cullen and New are fine talents with great chemistry on screen.

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<p>Adam Scott</p>

Adam Scott

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Adam Scott is a baby daddy in 'Friends with Kids'

'Parks and Recreation' star ready for the big screen spotlight

TORONTO - Alright moviegoers, you know who Adam Scott is.  Sure, you might not know the name, but you'll recognize the face.  The 38-year-old actor has a long track record of great supporting roles in films such as "Step Brothers," "Monster-in-Law," last month's "Our Idiot Brother" as well as an Independent Spirit Award nominated turn in the indie drama "The Vicious Kind."  Scott is much more familiar on the small screen, however, headlining the cast of the beloved cult comedy "Party Down" and as the "will they or won't they" love interest of Amy Phoeler on NBC's "Parks and Recreation." Last Friday, Scott found himself with his most prominent film role yet in Jennifer Westfeldt's new dramedy "Friends with Kids" which premiere at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.

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In Contention is joining the HitFix family

In Contention is joining the HitFix family

Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge's voices very welcome additions

Hollywood is going into uncharted territory this awards season.  How you might ask?  It's the first time the 5% rule will be implemented to determine how many best picture nominees will battle for Oscar's biggest prize.  Brett Ratner  is officially co-producing the Academy Awards (it's a bad dream right?) with Eddie "don't call it another comeback" Murphy tapped to host for the first time.  And on a lighter note, the HFPA or Dick Clark Productions will attempt to put their legal case aside and survive a one-year agreement to co-produce the Golden Globes once again on NBC.  And that's not even taking into account the drama in the crowded best actress race, yet another Scott Rudin vs. Harvey Weinstein best picture battle, Glenn Close's last stand and Michael Fassbender's out of the blue best actor candidacy.  That's a lot for any awards pundit to cover or analyze and it's just September.  So,  it's with great pride that I announce our film and awards season coverage just received a major boost with the addition of In Contention to the HitFix family.

Many of you hardcore Oscar fans are well aware of Kris Tapley's blog and the fantastic amount of year-round commentary, reviews and film news it provides.  Kris has spend the last six years fashioning In Contention into one of the most respected film blogs on the web.  Along with regular contributors Guy Lodge and Gerard Kennedy, In Contention has provided awards season and film coverage from across the globe standing by HitFix's own efforts at Cannes, Comic-Con, Telluride and more.  

A fellow and longstanding member of MCN's "Gurus of Gold," Tapley is one of the smartest and level-headed awards season pundits on the scene.  He has a keen strategic eye for recognizing what the Academy will go for or not go for.  He also happens to have a great overall taste in movies (and not to mention a wry sense of humor fairly evident in his writing).   London-based Lodge is an impressive film critic and writer who brings a unique perspective from the other side of the pond.  Tapley and Lodge are the sort of engaging and conversation starting voices we've worked hard to recruit at HitFix.

The great thing about this new partnership is that Awards Campaign isn't going away. The combined talents of both blogs will allow a unique and indepth perspective of awards season we believe you just can't get anywhere else. If something is happening during awards season you're going to hear about it on HitFix.  It's that simple.

So, whether you've been a fan of myself or Drew McWeeny on the film side; Dan Fienberg, Alan Sepinwall or Liane Bonin Starr on the TV front or Melinda Newman or Katie Hasty on the music beat, we all hope you'll give Tapley and his team a warm welcome when In Contention officially moves into its HitFix digs next week.

Kris has a tongue-in-cheek saying on In Contention. "No one needs awards season coverage this deep…"  Well ladies and gentlemen, it just got much deeper.