The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has wrapped up, and as is usually the case, it's being followed by a steady stream of Oscar buzz.
By Charles Bell
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) recently wrapped up, and as is usually the case, it's being followed by a steady stream of Oscar buzz. Described by NJ.com as "almost the last-ditch launching pad for Oscar campaigns," Toronto can often help set the tone for the awards season to come, as fan, critic and studio interest can reveal which films look to be front runners. The same article pointed out some of the films that seemed to get a boost at the festival, so let's take a look at some potential contenders.
The Martian" seemed to make for itself in Toronto is perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the festival. Viewed by many as yet another crowd-pleasing sci-fi space flick, this Matt Damon film based on the novel by Andy Weir is not expected to be an Oscar favorite. In fact, Betfair has already posted odds on the likeliest films to have a chance at Best Picture, and among them all "The Martian" is not even listed. There are 32 films that make the listing, with no hint of this one.
Yet "The Martian" reportedly turned heads in Toronto, and some early reviews have suggested that it's not only one of the best films of the year, but possibly the best of all the space films that have come out in recent years. The Huffington Post's review even semi-jokingly suggested that was Damon's intention in starring in the film — to do better than his somewhat-goofy role in Christopher Nolan's 2014 mind-bender, "Interstellar." At any rate, "The Martian" storming the Best Picture debate would be one of the more interesting awards season dramas in quite some time. It'd also be a nice interruption of the intensifying trend favoring artistic ambition over entertainment value.
Spotlight" is right in the thick of the race, not only in the official odds but in the opinions of numerous critics and publications online. Indiewire regularly updates its film awards predictions throughout any given year, and in its latest list, "Spotlight" is positioned as the fourth-surest bet. Following up on this expectation, the film is now one of the most buzzed-about titles from TIFF.
The film is slated for a November release and would be a more traditional Oscar front runner than, say, "The Martian." Michael Keaton, fresh off his rise back to prominence in 2014's "Birdman," is the lead actor alongside the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber, in a film that tells the story of the Boston Globe's lead investigative unit and its uncovering of a sex abuse scandal in Massachusetts.
‘The Danish Girl’
The Danish Girl" has been on Oscar watchers' radar for most of 2015, even though it hasn't yet been released.
Granted, most of the buzz about this particular project is with regard to the Best Actor award, which star performer Eddie Redmayne is looking to secure for a second straight year. Citing raves from the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, Gold Derby called Redmayne a "strong contender" for the honor given his evidently stunning work as the transgender character at the heart of the film. But with such a performance at the heart of the film, mastermind Tom Hooper directing, and even the social climate in which "The Danish Girl" is being released (with 2015 having been a landmark year for LGBT rights), it's difficult to not view this one as a Best Picture contender as well.
A number of other films will be part of this conversation as we get closer to awards season. But with the Toronto festival having wrapped up, these three titles look to be gaining steam.
The 88th Academy Awards, for outstanding film achievements of 2015, will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries worldwide.