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 — Get ready to hear a lot about Benedict Cumberbatch on the Oscar trail this season, as his performance as legendary computer science pioneer Alan Turing in Morten Tyldum's "The Imitation Game" joined an increasingly crowded Best Actor race when the film premiered in Telluride over the Labor Day weekend, and caught yet another stride with audiences at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
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.
Look across the landscape of Best Actor Oscar contenders this year. Michael Keaton, Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Bill Murray, Timothy Spall, Chadwick Boseman, Kevin Costner, Ralph Fiennes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hardy, James McAvoy, Channing Tatum all seen and stumped for. Joaquin Phoenix, David Oyelowo, Brad Pitt, Jack O'Connell, Bradley Cooper, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey and Mark Wahlberg all looking for room on the other side. Gael García Bernal, Ellar Coltrane, Brendon Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Miles Teller all likely to find supporters besides.
Now look at the Best Actress contenders…
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.
LOS ANGELES — The last four years have been a whirlwind for screenwriter Graham Moore. After seizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell the story of a childhood hero, his script based on Alan Turing's life — "The Imitation Game" — lit up the industry, landing at the top of The Black List (an annual compendium of hot unpublished screenplays). He was given the rare opportunity as a writer to see production all the way through as an Executive Producer, moving with the project in and out of the studio system, and in the mountains of Colorado last week, he witnessed the film catch fire after finally premiering at the Telluride Film Festival.
TORONTO — Actors who undergo extreme physical transformations for dramatic roles often are overpraised for their performances. That will never be the case for Eddie Redmayne’s remarkable depiction of Stephen Hawking in the new Focus Features drama "The Theory of Everything."
VENICE — As the festival wraps up for another year and prizes are announced, time for my final Venice 2014 report. On a personal note, I'd like to say I've had a blast writing for HitFix for the first time, and huge thanks to everyone who said that they enjoyed the coverage; it always means a lot.