With all of the Creative Arts Emmys buzz over the last couple of days, I am now way behind on my Oscar watching, which is a real shame because TIFF started this week, and has brought along a lot of contenders into the fold, in a very short time. So let's take a look at the fest so far:
1) The Martian - Ridley Scott has had a rough couple of films, including last year's slog Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Counselor, and Prometheus. Well, the first reviews out of Toronto seem to suggest that his losing streak might be over. There is some mixed reaction in some corners, but overall, the film is being praised for being funny, entertaining, thrilling (but not Gravity thrilling), and lead by a great performance from Matt Damon, who is yet another entry into this really crowded Best Actor race. I figure it will also play well with the technical branches, as films like this tend to do. But I do wonder about its Best Picture potential. It would be a great addition to a lineup that is probably going to be very serious and dark, but sometimes being too fun can hurt you with Oscar voters, because they don't take the film seriously. Plus, it's science fiction which is hit or miss at The Academy. All of that being said, it looks like one to watch for this fall.
2) Our Brand is Crisis - After seeing the trailer, I was fascinated to see how his one would play, and man are the results polarizing. Some think the film is messy, but funny and entertaining, and some think it is just a mess. So probably not going to be a big player across the board at the Oscars this year. But there is one element that seems to have some heat, and that is Sandra Bullock. Even the more negative reviews of the film seem to recognize that she is a force here. Unlike in recent years, the Best Actress race actually has some heat on it, and might not be easy to crack the top five. But she is a recent winner and nominee, is well-liked and well-respected, and after years of being ignored by the Academy, has finally seemed to have captured their attention.
3) The Lady in the Van - The overall product is probably not heading to Best Picture, but apparently Maggie Smith knocks it out of the park, and the Best Actress Oscar buzz is already building up, adding her to a list that is looking like an impressive lineup this year for the category. Throw in Vikander (if she goes lead), Blanchett, Mulligan, Theron, Tomlin, Larson, Rampling, Ronan, Danner, Blunt, McCarthy, and Schumer, and the unseen potentials Lawrence, Moore (we will know soon), and Kidman, and this is set to be the most competitive Best Actress race in years.
4) Truth - Cate Blanchett now has a third performance of note this year, as Truth premieres to pretty good reviews. I had honestly not heard much about the film going into the season, but both Blanchett and Redford are getting great notices, and honestly, it feels like an Oscar film. The reviews are not knock-em dead by any means, but with so many potentials in that mixed zone so far, good reviews look really good for the upcoming campaign.
5) Trumbo and I Saw the Light - So-so movies according to early reviews, but Tom Hiddleston and Bryan Cranston are getting a second look.
More to come!!!