<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;Ides of March&quot;&nbsp;and Brad Pitt in &quot;Moneyball.&quot;</p>

Ryan Gosling in "Ides of March" and Brad Pitt in "Moneyball."

Do 'Ides of March' and 'Moneyball' have the awards season goods?

Two quality films make their Toronto debuts

TORONTO - It's only the first day of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and two major prestige pics have already shown their wares to the assembled international press corps; Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" and George Clooney's "Ides of March."  Both films have the potential to be solid box office performers and receive very positive reviews.  Critically, this pundit fell for the political leanings of "Ides of March" (grade: B+) a bit more than Billy Beane's story in "Moneyball" (grade: B), but both films have the potential to make their mark on awards season.  With that in mind, let's run down the best awards season bets for each picture.

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<p>Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes and Brian Cox in a modern adaptation of &quot;Coriolanus.&quot;</p>

Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes and Brian Cox in a modern adaptation of "Coriolanus."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave display Oscar potential in 'Coriolanus'

HitFix
B
Readers
A+
Shakespeare adaption works finds stride in performances

There have been a number of modern adaptations of Shakespeare's plays over the last two decades.  So much so that transporting the classic tomes to a more contemporary setting isn't as fresh as it used to be. Therefore, when making that creative decision there has to be a specific vision that can transform the material into something fresh and new.  Ralph Fiennes pretty much accomplishes that feat with his directorial debut, "Coriolanus."

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<p>The poster for Jessica Yu's &quot;Last Call at the Oasis.&quot;</p>

The poster for Jessica Yu's "Last Call at the Oasis."

Credit: Participant Media

Exclusive: Erin Brokovich investigates fresh water issues in 'Last Call at the Oasis' clip

New doc about the perils of quality water premieres at Toronto on Friday

TORONTO - Lost of potential acquisition titles and awards season players are getting a ton of pre-festival publicity, but less celebrity-friendly documentaries are also a key component of the Toronto International Film Festival's slate.  This year, Davis Guggenheim's "From The Sky Down" about U2 is getting most of the opening night buzz, but there is another doc debuting on the same day that might be much more influential, "Last Call at the Oasis."

Directed by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu ("Protagonist," "The Realms of the Unreal") and produced by Elise Pearlstein ("Food, Inc."), the doc focuses on the growing concern with fresh water supplies across the globe.  The film features none other than Erin Brockovich, among others, who is investigating this issue in the United States.

Participant Media, the company behind "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Waiting for 'Superman,'" provided HitFix with an exclusive sneak peek of "Last Call" which you can view embedded in this post. 

Will "Last Call" be a call to action to the global water crisis just as "Truth" and "Waiting" were for the environment and education?  We'll no more after its debut at Toronto on Friday.

Look for continuing coverage of the Toronto Film Festival on HitFix and Awards Campaign for the next 10 days. 

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

<p>Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood's biopic &quot;J. Edgar.&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood's biopic "J. Edgar."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Clint Eastwood's 'J. Edgar' will premiere at AFI Fest 2011

Debut on Nov. 3 only six days before release

It didn't debut at Venice or Telluride and won't be sneaking at Toronto or the New York Film Festival, but Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" has found a home; AFI FEST 2011.  The American Film Institute announced this morning that "J. Edgar" will open the 25th installment of the festival on Nov. 3.

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<p>'Young Adult'</p>

'Young Adult'

First Look: Charlize Theron in Diablo Cody's 'Young Adult' poster

Oscar contender reunites screenwriter with 'Juno' director Jason Reitman

Oscar winner Charlize Theron ("Monster") is making a play to snag a second trophy with her much buzzed-about performance in the upcoming dramedy "Young Adult," which reunites "Juno" director Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") and writer Diablo Cody ("United States of Tara").

The just-released poster (below) trades the star's good looks for a cool visual take on the film's title and plot.

"Young Adult" is about a successful writer of teen-themed novels who returns to her small-town hoping to reconnect with her past, namely her now-married high school boyfriend ("Little Children's" Patrick Wilson). Instead, she finds herself bonding with a different former classmate, played by Patton Oswalt,  who hasn't quite gotten the hang of being a grown up. "Juno" vet J.K. Simmons is providing the sure-to-be-hilarious narration.

The poster is an homage to Judy Blume-type Y.A. novel covers, including a faux price tag and a gold foil stamp with Reitman's name and credentials. It's a different approach for a high-profile film with a star as recognizable as Theron, but it seems reassuring that "Young Adult" is serious in its serio-comic intentions.

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 "Young Adult" opens in the U.S. December 16.

<p>Eddie Murphy at the 2009 Oscar Luncheon where he was celebrating his best supporting actor nomination for &quot;Dreamgirls.&quot;</p>

Eddie Murphy at the 2009 Oscar Luncheon where he was celebrating his best supporting actor nomination for "Dreamgirls."

Credit: AP Photo

It's official: Eddie Murphy hosting the 84th Academy Awards

Bret Ratner puts his mark on the Oscars

After leaking over the Labor Day weekend, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences formally announced Eddie Murphy has signed on as Oscar host for the 84th Academy Awards.

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<p>Keira Knightley in David Cronenberg's &quot;A&nbsp;Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

Credit: Sony Classics

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

George Clooney and 'The Artist' are up

TELLURIDE - There is a big reason stars like George Clooney, Glenn Close and Tilda Swinton trekked to Colorado over Labor Day weekend.  Sure, their films are being screened (or premiered) at a world renowned film festival.  Sure, Clooney and Swinton received lifetime tributes and a fancy silver medallion for their respective bodies of work.  What it's really about, however, is creating substantial buzz among Academy members and industry influencers.  This sort of word-of-mouth fuels industry guild interest, the media and therefore box office prospects (which is what the season is really all about in this era).  Remember those big Academy players "The King's Speech," "Black Swan" and "127 Hours" last year?  Their campaigns basically began at Telluride a year ago.  So, with that in mind, let's run down the expected players who screened at the festival and the resulting buzz was after a long weekend of movie going.

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<p>Gary Oldman in 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'</p>

Gary Oldman in 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'

Credit: Focus Features

Critics' Response: 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' starring Gary Oldman a riveting and intelligent espionage thriller

Reviews out of Venice indicate a highly successful adaptation of the John le Carre novel

Premiering at the 68th Annual Venice International Film Festival today, director Tomas Alfredson's new political thriller "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" has received enthusiastic early notices from critics, with reviews heaping particular praise on both Gary Oldman's understated lead performance and assured direction by Alfredson.

The film is an adaptation of the 1974 John le Carre novel about secret agent George Smiley (Oldman), who comes out of semi-retirement to uncover the identity of a Soviet mole working within "The Circus", the highest level of Britain's Mi6 intelligence agency. Other cast members include Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and John Hurt. It is the English-language debut of Swedish director Alfredson, who made a big splash Stateside in 2008 with "Let the Right One In".

In a 4/5-star review, the Guardian's Xan Brooks calls "Tinker, Tailor" the "film to beat" at this year's festival, singling out Oldman's "deliciously delicate, shaded performance". His only criticism concerns the relative transparency of the plot's central mystery, stating: "If there is any flaw to the film, it's that the whistle is blown too soon and that some eagle-eyed George Smiley types are liable to identity the bad apple before Smiley does himself."

Over at Variety, Leslie Felpering praises Alfredson's "flair for suspense" and predicts healthy box-office for the film, indicating the period piece could resonate with contemporary audiences given the current political climate: "In the wake of corruption scandals that include the world banking crisis, this version of 'Tinker, Tailor' catches the newest wave of disillusionment and anxiety. It may be a period piece...but it feels painfully apt now to revisit the early-to-mid-1970s, when things were just about to fall apart."

The Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young, on the other hand, thinks the film actually "risks feeling out of date" with its Cold War backdrop, but nevertheless praises the look of the film and Alfredson's unique directing style: "It is one of the few films so visually absorbing, felicitous shot after shot, that its emotional coldness is noticed only at the end, when all the plot twists are unraveled in a solid piece of thinking-man’s entertainment for upmarket thriller audiences."

David Gritten of the Telegraph awarded the film a perfect 5/5 stars, giving it good odds of being a major contender come awards season: "It’s possible another film may soon emerge to spearhead Britain’s assault on the coming awards season. But after the world premiere here at the Venice Film Festival of 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy', it would be a huge surprise."

Perhaps the least enthusiastic of all early reviewers is Thompson on Hollywood's Matt Mueller, who still liked the film overall but echoed Brooks in believing the "whodunit" element will be too easily solved by astute viewers: "Fans of the genre will finger the culprit early and without that added layer of suspicion, the big reveal is left feeling perfunctory, almost blasé. Minus that last cathartic gasp, 'Tinker Tailor Solder Spy' settles for being a very good as opposed to a superb spy thriller."

Based on these early reviews, I'd say it sounds like Oldman has a good chance of scoring an Oscar nod next year...

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is set to premiere in U.S. theaters on December 9th courtesy of Focus Features.

<p>Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen's &quot;Shame.&quot;</p>

Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen's "Shame."

Review: Steve McQueen's 'Shame' is simply a spectacular work of art

HitFix
A
Readers
A+
Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are superb

TELLURIDE - A remarkable snapshot of the perils of sexual compulsion in the modern world, Steve McQueen's new drama "Shame" is simply a spectacular work of art.  The film debuted almost simultaneously at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals Sunday.

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<p>A few days before arriving in Telluride, George Clooney pokes fun at himself on the red carpet at the 2011 Venice Film Festival where his new drama &quot;The Ides of March&quot;&nbsp;debuted.</p>

A few days before arriving in Telluride, George Clooney pokes fun at himself on the red carpet at the 2011 Venice Film Festival where his new drama "The Ides of March" debuted.

Credit: AP Photo

Telluride: Five minutes with festival star George Clooney

Fighting the altitude, balancing jobs and what he wants to catch

TELLURIDE - One of the Telluride Film Festival's most appealing traits is the general lack of pretentiousness among the stars, directors and attendees. Whether you are regular such as Laura Linney (couldn't make it this year), Alejandro Inarritu, Alexander Payne or Werner Herzog, there is little drama about waiting in line with all the other attendees to see a film, chatting with anyone about their opinions or walking the streets by themselves from screening to screening.  Sure, this can randomly occur at Sundance, but Telluride puts almost everyone on equal and accessible footing (gasp, celebrities are real people too!).  There are however, a few notable exceptions.  Enter George Clooney.

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