Austin Film Fest: Writer-Centric Event to Screen Numerous Oscar Hopefuls ... Potential Contenders for the Foreign Language Film Oscar Make Their Mark ... New York Film Fest: Top-Secret Edward Snowden Doc Added to Lineup ... ‘Pride’ Angles for Golden Globe Musical-Comedy Categories ... Hollywood Heads to Broadway ... Shekhar Kapur Will Chair 2014 Capri, Hollywood International Film Fest ... Five Possible Oscar Nominees Awaiting Distribution Deals ... Feinberg Forecast: The Awards Landscape After Telluride and Toronto, Before New York ...
Countdown to Oscars

Monday, September 8, 2014

Toronto: ‘The Last 5 Years’ Offers Golden Globe Voters a Quality Musical Option


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Exactly three months ago, I sat in the audience at the Tonys as Jason Robert Brown collected best original score and best orchestrations prizes for his musical adaptation ofThe Bridges of Madison County, which starred a fantastic Kelli O’Hara but had recently closed after struggling at the box office and being denied a best musical nomination. It was, as Brown conveyed from the podium, a very bittersweet night for him.

Sunday night was, perhaps, even sweeter for Brown, I sensed from a seat directly behind his at the Toronto International Film Festival’s world premiere of The Last 5 DaysRichard LaGravanese‘s big screen adaptation of a musical of the same name for which Brown wrote the book, music and lyrics back in 2001 en route to an off-Broadway debut in 2002 and revival in 2013. Indeed, as Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan belted out the show’s poppy numbers, to the delight of a crowd that erupted in applause mid-movie several times, he silently lip-synced along.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Toronto: Eddie Redmayne Leaps to Head of Oscar Pack for ‘The Theory of Everything’


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

The trailer for Focus Features’ The Theory of Everything, a film about the early life of Stephen Hawking, was one of the best in recent memory, and it set a very high bar for the James Marsh-directed film itself to live up to. But, having now seen the complete product at its Toronto International Film Festival world premiere on Sunday evening, I can submit to you this much: thanks to a landmark performance by Eddie Redmayne and standout supporting work by Felicity Jones, as well as great production quality all-around, it meets that bar — and then some.

The warm ovation that greeted the heartbreaking but inspirational drama — which was adapted by Anthony McCarten from the autobiography of Jane Hawking, Stephen’s college sweetheart-turned-wife, and directed by Marsh, who previously has directed only one other narrative feature but won the best documentary Oscar for his massively acclaimed film Man on Wire (2008) — support that position. And the prolonged standing ovation that greeted its stars after the end-credits support another: namely, that Redmayne will be tough to beat in the best actor race and Jones will have a strong shot of her own in the lead or supporting actress race. (Her placement is still being debated but I’m told Focus is leaning toward the latter.)

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Toronto: Hilarious ‘While We’re Young’ Script Could Earn Noah Baumbach Another Nom


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Noah Baumbach‘s While We’re Young, one of the most enjoyable films that I’ve seen in a long time — and one of the first two products of Barry Diller and Scott Rudin‘s new production company IAC Films (the other being Chris Rock‘s comedy Top Five, which is also playing at TIFF) — had its world premiere on Saturday night and played again on Sunday afternoon at the Toronto International Film Festival, after which it was greeted with considerable applause and, I’m told by reliable sources, multiple bids for its U.S. distribution rights, which remain unresolved as of this writing.

The film, a laugh-out-loud dramedy grown adults about the meaning of “adulthood” in the 21st century, feels to me like the best Woody Allen movie that Woody Allen didn’t direct — and one that will stand a strong shot at landing a nom in the Oscar category in which Allen has been nominated more often than anyone else in history, best original screenplay, if and when someone picks it up. (It feels to me like Fox Searchlight or A24’s cup of tea, but we’ll see.)

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Toronto: ‘Black and White’ Could Propel Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer Into Oscar Race


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

One of the best movies that has already screened at the Toronto Film Festival but hasn’t yet found a U.S. distributor is Mike Binder‘s Black and White. The drama, which was inspired by a true story, stars Oscar winners Kevin Costner (also a producer) and Octavia Spencer as a grandfather and grandmother on opposite sides of a dispute over the custody of a mixed-race child (the excellent 10-year-old newcomer Jillian Estell) to whom they both lay claim. Following its world premiere at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday, it received a lengthy standing ovation, and it’s hard to imagine that it will remain on the market — or outside of the 2014 Oscar discussion — for much longer.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Toronto: Reitman’s Back in Form–and Awards Contention–with ‘Men, Women & Children’


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter 

The Canadian writer-director Jason Reitman‘s career exploded with his first three feature films, Thank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007) and Up in the Air (2009), the latter two of which received best picture Oscar nominations and garnered him best director noms, as well. (He was also nominated for co-adapting Up in the Air‘s screenplay) The two films with which he followed those, however, Young Adult (2011) and Labor Day (2013), proved much more divisive, and led some to wonder if the filmmaker had lost his way.

Now, though, with his sixth feature — Men, Women & Children, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Ryerson Theatre at 6pm on Saturday, just like all of his others except Young Adult, which skipped the festival circuit — I am pleased to report that Reitman has recaptured the formula that endeared him to critics, audiences and the Academy in the first place: employing a big and talented ensemble to smartly and dryly satirize the world in which we live.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Toronto: Bill Murray Guns for Another Shot at Oscar with ‘St. Vincent’


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

In 2004, Bill Murray won the best actor in a musical or comedy Golden Globe and almost won the best actor Oscar for his work in Lost in Translation; for the latter, he came up short in a hotly contested race, to Mystic River‘s Sean Penn. Now, a decade later, Murray could be back in the running for that same Golden Globe, if not that same Oscar, for his finest work since: his indelible portrayal of a grumpy old man who bonds with his young new neighbor in Ted Melfi‘s St. Vincent, a dramedy that The Weinstein Co. is distributing.

The film was very well received at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday (which the fest declared “Bill Murray Day”) and at its encore special presentation screening on Saturday (which a festivalgoer astutely suggested calling “Groundhog Dog”).

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Toronto: Can the Acclaimed Genre Film ‘Nightcrawler’ Crack Into Oscar Race?


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Open Road Films’ Nightcrawler may or may not turn out to be “an awards movie” — “genre films” rarely do — but it is destined to become a classic and was received accordingly, with a loud and partial standing ovation, after its world premiere on Friday night at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Toronto: Al Pacino Is Back in Acquisition Title ‘The Humbling’


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Among the actors who have multiple films playing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival are Julianne MooreReese WitherspoonKristen Stewart – and a young up-and-comer by the name of Al Pacino.

Pacino, of course, is actually as much of a veteran as anyone at the fest, and yet, as he nears his 75th birthday in the spring, he is still working regularly. Of his 2014 TIFF entries, I haven’t yet seen David Gordon Green‘s Manglehorn. But, on Friday, I saw Barry Levinson‘s The Humbling, an acquisition title, and I am pleased to report that it features some of the best work that Levinson or Pacino have done in years — certainly their best since their prior collaboration, on HBO’s 2010 Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack.

If someone picks up the low-budget dramedy, which features numerous laugh-out-loud moments — it was adapted by the great Buck Henry (The Graduate), who is now 83, and Michael Zebede, from Philip Roth‘s 2009 novel of the same name — there’s a chance that strong word-of-mouth could propel it to a decent showing at the box-office and Pacino and his always-solid costar Greta Gerwig to Independent Spirit Award noms and the like.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

A Look at Robert Downey Jr.’s Top Nominations


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor

Robert Downey Jr. is no stranger to box office smashes; The success of Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man and The Avengers has proven Downey’s ability to dominate the world of Hollywood blockbusters. Downey takes a step towards a more serious role than he’s had the past few years with this fall’s family drama, The Judge.

Since opening the 39th Toronto International Film Festival Thursday evening,the film hasn’t been hailed as the next best picture nominee to come out of Toronto, but that doesn’t mean it won’t score any nominations.

Both Oscar winner Robert Duvall and two-time Oscar nominee Downey, have been garnering high praise for their roles as father and son, which could lead to potential nominations for the 87th Academy Awards. Duvall has a long awards history, but Downey also has his fair share of praise. Here are five of Downey’s most critically acclaimed roles:
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Toronto: ‘The Judge’ Opens Fest, Now Awaits Academy’s Verdict


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

The 39th Toronto International Film Festival got underway on Thursday night with the world premiere of Warner Bros.’ The Judge at Roy Thomson Hall. David Dobkin‘s drama stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall as a son and father who have never really gotten along, but who begin to bond when the son, a hotshot lawyer, begins representing the father, who is facing murder charges for allegedly killing a man with his car and then fleeing the scene. The film, which will be released nationwide on Oct. 10, received a warm ovation that became a standing ovation when a spotlight was shined on the film’s principal talent  amongst whom are also Vera Farmiga and Vincent D’Onofrio  as the credits rolled.

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