The Toronto International Film Festival was two months ago, so this year’s Oscar race has started to make shake out. Or has it? Two of the biggest players, American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street, have not yet revealed themselves, so there is much to come. (The former looks like the dark moments of Goodfellas, the latter like the lighter moments of Goodfellas. Well, semi-light.)
Let’s see how some of TIFF’s biggies have fared since the festival. Not all of these were expected to be Oscar players, but all came in on a wave of hype:
- 12 Years a Slave: The winner of TIFF’s audience award has not hit any major speed bumps since the festival, and remains the Best Picture frontrunner. Much depends on whether it can maintain its velocity now that it has been seen by general audiences. I believe it can.
- August: Osage County: Like Saving Mr. Banks in London, August emerged from Toronto with strong notices, but not many suggestions that it was a game-changer in this year’s race. We shall see if audiences embrace it. If so, it could become a major player, at least on the acting side.
- Blue Is the Warmest Color: Controversy sells, and Blue has had its share. So far, so good for the three-hour Cannes winner, but now it needs to stay in the spotlight. That could be tricky, although I still think a few Oscar nods are possible. It certainly deserves them.
- Dallas Buyers Club: It received great reviews in Toronto, and is just about ready to open. If it is as moving and crowd-pleasing as many say it is, it’s a player. There is no doubt Jared Leto will be a nominee, and one has to think Matthew McConaughey is, too.
- Don Jon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut was never going to set the world on fire, but it did seem to open and close rather quickly. This should have a stronger impact on DVD/Blu-ray.
- The Fifth Estate: Oof. A bomb, critically and commercially. But I still can’t wait to see it, so there’s that.
- Gravity: A massive success, Gravity is a sure-fire Best Picture nominee, and it might even win. That being said, the more I ponder, the less thrilled I am, and I think it could fade a bit over the next few months.
- Labor Day: For a Kate Winslet-starrer directed by native son Jason Reitman, the response to Labor Day was pretty muted. But it’s a good film, and might draw stronger notices outside of a festival setting. Audiences will likely connect with it, I think, so don’t count it out.
- Parkland: The perfect example of a film that never recovers from bad buzz. In this case, it started in Venice, carried on to Telluride, so by the time the JFK assassination drama arrived in Toronto, it was DOA. The film opened just days after TIFF to miniscule grosses, and, shockingly, already arrived on DVD yesterday (Nov. 5).
- Philomena: I still say Philomena is this year’s Oscar dark horse. I’m not saying it could win Best Picture, but I am saying it will be nominated, and that Judi Dench could find herself taking Best Actress. It’s a smart, funny, moving film, and audiences will eat it up.
- Prisoners: The success of Prisoners was a pleasant surprise, since I’m not sure anyone had high hopes for it prior to festival season. It will do very well on DVD, and could even grab a few noms. A base hit for all involved.
- Rush: Ron Howard’s film drew great reviews, and commercial indifference. I did not get to see it, and a few weeks after opening, it is pretty much forgotten. This is another that may get a second wind thanks to home viewing.
- Salinger: Once the hype died, the Weinsteins’ documentary needed strong reviews. It did not get them, and is already streaming on Netflix!
- The Square and Tim’s Vermeer: Two documentaries that emerged from festival season with stellar reviews, and more success to come. What could be better than that?
Photo courtesy of TIFF