Sunday, September 19, 2010

TIFF: The People Speak.

Unlike many of the A-list festivals, Toronto does not do the big celebrity jury thing to hand out their awards. So it's up to festivalgoers to vote and the Audience Awards result. This is why, roughly speaking, the TIFF winner usually goes on to Oscar success, popularity being the key to both honors. This year's winner The King's Speech can now follow the same path as famous films before it like Whale Rider, Precious or Slumdog Millionaire. We already suspected, long before it screened anywhere (it was among my Early Bird predictions in April) that this would be an Oscar hit.

Audience Awards
The Kings Speech by Tom Hooper
Can we just give Colin Firth the best actor statue now? Given the momentum from last year, don't you think there's no way they're not going to hand him the statue this year? We might be looking at a boring Best Actor race with no real competition, even though the nominations themselves will have plenty of competition.
runner up: The First Grader by Justin Chadwick
This one I hadn't heard of but it sounds inspirational enough to play well with Oscar, too. It's based on a true story of a Kenyan man who showed up on the first day that free primary education was offered, ready to be a student... at 84 years young. This is only Chadwick's second feature film. His first was The Other Boleyn Girl.

Midnight Madness: Stake Land by Jim Mickle
I love the poster so much I had to include it (pictured right). But even I -- who once loved all things vampyr -- am deadly sick of the fanged beasties given today's pop culture. There's vampires everywhere you look. These ones look like the bloody gross monster versions though and I prefer the kind that are beautiful (but still monstrous at heart).
runner up: Fubar II by Michael Dowse
Documentary: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie by Sturla Gunnarsson
This is one of several current environmentally focused documentaries.
runner up: Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzman
Will we see either of these titles in the documentary Oscar race? I can't even pretend to be able to describe this one for you.

Canadian Specific Prizes
Incendies by Denis Villeneuve. This will likely be the Canadian choice for Oscar submission for the Best Foreign Language Film race though nothing is official yet. Sony Pictures Classics is handling the release and they do good work with foreign fare... though unfortunately they almost never release them in the year of their Oscar eligibility (unless they're from Almodóvar) so we're looking at 2011 here.


I've only seen one Villeneuve picture before, a short film called Next Floor, but it was very very impressive -- here's Nick's review from our time on the shorts jury in Nashville that year. Incendies is about twins who try to piece together their mother's last days in the Middle East could be a real contender. Keep an eye out.
First Feature: High Cost of Living by Deborah Chow.
Short: Les fleurs de l’age (Little Flowers) by Vincent Biron which is 18 minutes long and about schoolchildren (though it takes place in the summer)

FIPRESCI Critics Prizes
Discovery: Beautiful Boy by Shawn Ku. This film stars Maria Bello and Michael Sheen as the parents of a college student involved in a shooting massacre. I suspect we'll see this in 2011 now that Anchor Bay picked it up. I keep rooting for Maria to get another role as demanding / high profile as A History of Violence. Will this be it or does only a tiny release await?
Special Presentation: L'Amour Fou by Pierre Thoretton which is a film about fashion god Yves St. Laurent

The big takeaway news though, now that TIFF 2010 has wrapped, is that there were a lot of sales. Far more films found distributors than people were originally suspecting. The Los Angeles Times even called it a "flood" of sales. That's good news for us. If current official or rumored plans hold, we'll see Rabbit Hole this year from Lionsgate and sometime next year we'll get the Lincoln assassination courtroom drama The Conspirator from Lionsgate and Roadside as well as the father/son gay-themed drama Beginners starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer next year from Focus to name a few dramatic examples.

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