Toronto Download #2: Moneyball, Machine Gun Preacher, Anonymous
A look at the awards chances of more Toronto titles, plus the 10 must-see films that have yet to be screened by critics this year.
There was a wide selection of new English-language cinema at Toronto but some will not be eligible for awards season this year like the Duplass Brothers’ charming Jeff, Who Lives At Home or Lynn Shelton’s delightful Your Sister’s Sister. Others, like Oren Moverman’s Rampart which features a standout performance by Woody Harrelson and Sarah Polley’s tender Take This Waltz, have yet to close their domestic deal.
Right at the front of the festival and set to open in the US this weekend was Moneyball, Bennett Miller’s talky baseball movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. A smart and well-written affair (the script was by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, no less), Moneyball is nonetheless a sports film and it’s unlikely that it will hit a home run into awards season. Brad Pitt gives a strong performance as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, and he certainly has a shot at awards nominations, but the film itself is a story about baseball with very little concession to the human drama that made Rocky, Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby such Oscar favourites.
Also opening in the US this weekend after a TIFF world premiere is Machine Gun Preacher, Marc Forster’s latest film which features a larger than life performance from Gerard Butler as a drug dealing ex-con turned born again preacher turned African vigilante in the true story of Sam Childers. Butler brings a raw masculinity to the film but the character is not well-written enough nor the film strong enough to merit serious awards consideration.
Likewise Roland Emmerich’s Shakespeare-was-a-Fraud historical thriller Anonymous which has its best shot at awards consideration in costume, production design and special effects categories for its sumptuous recreation of 17th Century London. Rhys Ifans gives a likeable performance as Edward De Vere, the Earl Of Oxford, the man who allegedly penned all the Bard’s work but the film, which falls awkwardly between delicious romp and too-serious drama, probably won’t be in line for major categories this year.
So what is still to come? In my reckoning, there are about ten titles yet to be screened to critics or public which have Oscar written all over them.
- My Week With Marilyn from director Simon Curtis with Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh which has its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Oct 9.
- The Rum Diary from director Bruce Robinson with Johnny Depp which FilmDistrict opens in the US on Oct 28.
- Clint Eastwood’s latest J Edgar, a biopic of J Edgar Hoover starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer, will open AFI FEST in Los Angeles on Nov 3.
- Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s epic family film with Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz, is opening wide in the US on Nov 23.
- Jason Reitman’s latest comedy Young Adult featuring Charlize Theron is opening in limited release on Dec 9.
- Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady boasting what has to be a virtuoso performance by Meryl Streep is opening in the US on Dec 16 (and on Jan 6 in the UK).
- Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson hits theatres on Dec 23.
- David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara opens wide on Dec 23.
- As does Stephen Daldry’s latest Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close featuring Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.
- And also on Dec 23 Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In The Land of Blood and Honey is released.
- Last but not least on Dec 30 is Steven Spielberg’s World War I epic War Horse featuring a host of British acting talent. It could be the one to beat.
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