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Awards race comes into focus at TIFF

La La Land, Jackie, Nocturnal Animals and Manchester By The Sea have all been garnering early awards buzz.

With Venice and Telluride spun out and Toronto drawing to a close, the 2016 awards race is coming into focus with some films already making strong plays – reinforced by the win at Venice for Emma Stone (best actress for La La Land) and Tom Ford (Grand Jury prize for Nocturnal Animals).

Still in clear Best Picture (and, by extension, Best Director) contention from Sundance is Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea. He seems likely to be joined by Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, Damien Chazelle’s lustrous ode to Los Angeles and musicals, La La Land, and Garth Davis’ Lion, which screened in Toronto to a warm reception. Jostling them along are Ford’s dark drama and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival.

Also in the frame are the touching dramas Moonlight and Loving, alongside Mel Gibson’s directorial comeback Hacksaw Ridge. Still to be seen are Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Martin Scorsese’s not-yet-finished Silence, and Fences, starring Denzel Washington. The future of The Birth Of A Nation may still in play following an enthusiastic response at Toronto.

The power of Casey Affleck’s performance in Manchester By The Sea, first seen in Sundance in January, should carry him through to a Best Actor nomination a year later. He could be joined by Tom Hanks for Sully, Michael Keaton for The Founder, Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Snowden, Ryan Gosling for La La Land, Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, or Dev Patel for Lion.

Best Actress frontrunners must now include Nathalie Portman’s titular Jackie; Sonia Braga in Aquarius; Isabelle Huppert, never better in Elle; Ruth Negga for Loving; and Amy Adams for Arrival, and Recca Hall potentially also following a similar Sundance-to-Oscar-nomination route with Christine .

In the Foreign Language category, Germany has submitted Toni Erdmann, Spain has put forward Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta. France could nominate Elle or Francois Ozon’s Frantz, which has delighted Venice and TIFF audiences. Neruda has gone forward for Chile, while Brazil controversially denied one of its best films in years, Aquarius, a chance at selection . Its leading lady, Sonia Braga, could yet make good with her own Best Actress nomination to compensate for the politically motivated decision.

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