<p>Keira Knightley at the Toronto premiere of &quot;Can a Song Save Your&nbsp;Life?&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley at the Toronto premiere of "Can a Song Save Your Life?"

Credit: AP Photo

Toronto: Weinstein closes in on a deal for 'Can a Song Save Your Life?'

John Carney's 'Once' follow-up sparked an all-night auction

It's safe to say HitFix's Drew McWeeny was a big fan of John Carney's "Can a Song Save Your Life?," which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival yesterday. "It should not come as any surprise that John Carney, who wrote and directed 'Once,' has made another great film that focuses on songwriters and the way their lives influence their work, and I love that it doesn't feel like he's just trying to reproduce that movie's charms," Drew wrote in his review. "It's the sort of movie that I feel protective of right away, because it's delicate. It's not trying to be a giant megablockbuster that opens on 3000 screens. It is heartfelt and deeply human, and it means every word it says."

A number of distributors must feel similarly (or see the potential for audiences to feel similarly) about the film, which stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo: an all-night auction eventually led to The Weinstein Company securing exclusive talks to acquire it. Deadline is reporting that the film will be picked up for $7 million minimum for US rights with a $20 million P&A (prints and advertising) commitment.

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<p>Eleni Philippou (right) in &quot;Miss Violence.&quot;</p>

Eleni Philippou (right) in "Miss Violence."

Credit: Elle Driver

Jaw-dropping Venice awards make a defiant anti-mainstream statement

Bertolucci's jury clearly set out to provoke, but 'Sacro GRA' is a respectable winner

VENICE - "I have a feeling Bertolucci's going to be a bit spikier than that," a colleague said to me yesterday, after I ventured my not-at-all confident prediction that Hayao Miyazaki's romantic animated biopic "The Wind Rises" would win the Golden Lion. To some extent, actually, we agreed. This year's Bertolucci-led jury didn't exactly seem likely to hand the top prize to the comfortingly middlebrow "Philomena," however much the crowds at Venice wanted them to: with other jurors including Andrea Arnold, Pablo Larrain and Carrie Fisher, it was hard to tell just what they'd agree on, but the odds were firmly stacked against it being safe.

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<p>Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba</p>

Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba

Toronto: Best Actor contenders McConaughey and Elba debut back-to-back

Which one is now the frontrunner for Oscar?

TORONTO - As is often the case during the first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival, two potential awards season contenders debuted within hours of each other Saturday night. In fact, "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" premiered in theaters literally across the street from one another. And, happily, both have something to add to our long road to Oscar.

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<p>Jason&nbsp;Bateman at the Toronto premiere of &quot;Bad Words&quot;</p>

Jason Bateman at the Toronto premiere of "Bad Words"

Credit: Getty Images

Toronto: Jason Bateman's 'Bad Words' lands at Focus

The film is set for release next year

The Toronto Film Festival is in full swing and HitFix's Greg Ellwood have chimed in on a number of films, from "Dallas Buyers Club" to "Enough Said," while a handful of Telluride players -- "12 Years a Slave," "Labor Day," "Gravity" (also Venice) have landed as well.

One of the films Greg has been high on is Jason Bateman's directorial debut, "Bad Words." Praising Bateman's transition to feature director (he's been directing television for years), Greg wrote that the film "will make many wonder if some of [Bateman's] recent flicks might have actually been even better if he'd been behind the camera instead of just in front of it." Indeed, with misses like "The Change-Up" and "Identity Thief" as of late, Bateman could certainly use a smash.

Focus Features will be aiming to turn "Bad Words" into just that as the studio acquired the film earlier this morning. Written by Andrew Dodge (and a Black List entry in 2011), it be released worldwide by Focus in 2014.

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<p>James&nbsp;Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Nicole Holofcener's &quot;Enough Said.&quot;</p>

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review: 'Enough Said' featuring a fine James Gandolfini in one of his last roles

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
Holofcener's dialogue is great, but the end result feels lacking

TORONTO - Over the course of her four previous pictures, Nicole Holofcener has proven to be one of the most observant and insightful American filmmakers working today. Her latest endeavor, "Enough Said," would be noteworthy just based on the fact that its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, hasn't appeared in a live action movie since 1997's "Deconstructing Harry." Sadly, what has put the film on the radar of many moviegoers is the fact its features one of the last performances of the late, great James Gandolfini.

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<p>Steve Coogan won the Best Screenplay award for &quot;Philomena.&quot;</p>

Steve Coogan won the Best Screenplay award for "Philomena."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Upset in Venice as Italian doc 'Sacro GRA' takes Golden Lion, Steve Coogan wins screenplay

Bernardo Bertolucci's jury makes some bold decisions

VENICE - Bernardo Bertolucci proved one thing this evening: he still has the power to surprise us. Tonight's Venice Film Festival awards ceremony was the most surprise-laden (at this festival, or any other) in recent memory. In the press room, where I was watching it, the swiftly announced winners induced one gasp after another from the crowd -- along with a smattering of boos -- until the crowning stunner: the Golden Lion for "Sacro GRA," an Italian documentary about a famous Roman highway from Gianfranco Rosi that was surely one of the most little-seen films in Competition. (I missed it too, and will be catching up with it tonight.) Hot Best Actress favorite Judi Dench missed out, though her "Philomena" co-star Steve Coogan was rewarded for his screenplay. I'll have more analysis later; for now, the full list of winners is after the jump.

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<p>Xavier Dolan in &quot;Tom at the Farm.&quot;</p>

Xavier Dolan in "Tom at the Farm."

Credit: MK2

'Philomena' dominates preliminary Venice awards, as 'Tom at the Farm' takes critics' prize

Does this bode well for their chances at tonight's jury awards ceremony?

When I said in yesterday's predictions piece that "Philomena" was the most broadly well-liked film of the festival, I wasn't kidding. Stephen Frears' gentle dramedy, widely tipped to win Best Actress for Judi Dench at tonight's Competition awards ceremony, handily leads the way in the festival's vast array of preliminary awards from alternative juries. Its eight wins include Best Film from the festival's Youth Jury, an INTERFILM award for "promoting interreligious dialogue," even a Cinema for UNICEF mention. No one's singled it out yet for walking on water, but it's only a matter of time.

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<p>Jason Bateman in &quot;Bad Words.&quot;</p>

Jason Bateman in "Bad Words."

Review: 'Bad Words' is a dirty, hilarious smash for Jason Bateman

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Spelling Bee farce proves Bateman is a director to watch for

TORONTO - In hindsight, no one should be surprised that Jason Bateman turned out to be a very smart and talented movie director. The Hollywood veteran has had a lifelong lesson in what works and what doesn't whether it was on the set of TV's "Silver Spoons" when he was a teenager, amongst the creative ensemble of "Arrested Development" or any number of hit comedies he's starred in over the past five years such as "Identity Thief" or "Horrible Bosses." And did we mention he's been directing TV sitcoms since he was 20? With "Bad Words," which premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival Friday night, Bateman will make many wonder if some of his recent flicks might have actually been even better if he'd been behind the camera instead of just in front of it.

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<p>Jesse Eisenberg in &quot;Night Moves.&quot;</p>

Jesse Eisenberg in "Night Moves."

Credit: Maybach Film Productions

Venice awards preview: What will win, and what should

Miyazaki or Tsai? Dench or Johansson? What to expect from tomorrow's prizes

VENICE - We're almost at the finish line. 11 days have passed, 20 Competition films have been screened, and tomorrow evening we'll find out what this year's eclectic jury, led by Oscar-winning Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, believes is the best of them. And if it's harder than usual to call this year -- and it's usually pretty damn hard -- that's because the only point of consensus among those remaining on the Lido is that this year's Competition slate hasn't been one of the festival's finest.

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<p>Barkhad Abdi and Tom Hanks in&nbsp;&quot;Captain&nbsp;Phillips&quot;</p>

Barkhad Abdi and Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips"

Credit: Sony Pictures

A newcomer nearly steals 'Captain Phillips' from Best Actor slam dunk Tom Hanks

The story of the movie might just be a surprising supporting performance

Paul Greengrass' "Captain Phillips" is plainly one of the best films of the year. It's the best work the director has offered to date and it features a detailed, ultimately emotional performance from Tom Hanks that is sure to draw kudos. But the big surprise is that Hanks might not even give the best performance of the film.

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