Posts Tagged ‘London River’

24 Weeks To Go Toronto Scores A Single, But Not Much More

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

That sound you heard coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival this year…

Near silence.

The films that came in hot (An Education & Precious) stayed hot, the new film expected to come out hot (Up In The Air & A Serious Man) came out hot, and a total of one title that went in unsure came out with some heat, A Single Man.

Just not that exciting, awardswise.

There were other good movies. But there was not much of a fuse lit. Studios started pushing away from the Gala events at Roy Thompson Hall, often preferring the less tony environs of the Elgin, the newly reopened for movies Winter Garden, and often the college theater energy of Ryerson Hall.

The Road wasn’t killed… but it didn’t come flying out of the week either. Capitalism: A Love Story wasn’t a car wreck… but it was a lot more Sicko than Fahrenheit 9/11.

At $1 million, A Single Man was the biggest sale of the festival… which tells you right away that there were no rush-it-out sure bets like The Wrestler or The Hurt Locker in play at the festival this year.

Creation, Agora, Chloe, Mother & Child, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Micmacs, Love & Other Impossible Pursuits, The Young Victoria, Triage, Harry Brown, The Joneses, The Vintner’s Luck, The Boys Are Back, Leaves of Grass, Life During Wartime, Ondine, and London River are part of the long list of high profile titles looking to break out at TIFF and just not doing so. Cannes hits Broken Embraces, Bright Star, A Prophet, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus did fine… but didn’t have a next step, propelled by Oprah or anyone else.

The non-Best Picture arthouse breakout may turn out to be the Chinese-made City of Life & Death while the most commercial films might be Whip It (large size) and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (small size).

But still… the only potentially significant awards story to emerge from TIFF 2009 was A Single Man.

And the only really bad news for a film that was looking for a push out of TIFF was Bright Star, which opened on 19 screens for a 3-day $9,984 per-screen average and expanded to 130 screens and a $5,168 per-screen. The film is running slightly ahead of Cheri, as an example, on weekend per-screen, though after 10 days, Cheri is running slightly ahead of Bright Star because of weekday numbers. I still expect Bright Star to outperform Cheri, but $5 million seems like the high bar domestically. That is unlikely to be enough to make the Best Picture leap, especially in a season with an unusual number of strong female-driven films (Nine, Precious, An Education, Coco Before Chanel, Julie and Julia, Amelia, It’s Complicated and more).

Outside of Toronto, there have also been casualties of timing. Films from Martin Scorsese, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Lasse Hallstrom, Neil Jordan, and Paul Greengrass all are out of the game because they won’t be released this year.

What is clear is that there is plenty of room to fight for a slot at this point. Of my Top 12 – which is really my entire top group at this point – only three of the films are unseen as of this writing (Nine, Invictus, and Avatar). In addition, there are a couple of completely blind items, like Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol and Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. Traditionally, films like Sherlock Holmes, The Blind Side, and It’s Complicated are commercial films and not Oscar films… but there is always room for a pop.

What finally smashed me in the face up in Toronto was that with 10 Best Picture nominees and only five in each of the acting slots, it could get pretty weird. Nine and Precious are actress fests. Invictus, A Serious Man, A Single Man, and The Hurt Locker are actor parties. But at the same time, you have to assume an Oscar nomination for Daniel Day Lewis in Nine and for Julianne Moore in A Single Man. How many of the 8 star actresses can be nominated for Nine?

If it’s Day-Lewis, Clooney, Firth, Renner, and Damon… what happens to Mortensen, Wahlberg, Sarsgaard, Stuhlbarg, and Maguire?

If it’s Streep, Mulligan, Cotillard, Weisz, and Sidibe… what happens to Tautou, Cruz, Cornish, Swank, and Theron?

Supporting Actor is looking like the softest category with potential in Gyllenhaal, Tucci, Molina, Duvall, and Kind.

Best Supporting Actress is a MONSTER… Just Nine has Dench, Loren, Hudson, Cruz, and Kidman. Add Ronan, Farmiga, Kendrick. Moore, Adams, Portman… and God knows who else?

So here we are… about two months from things really locking in… and while The Ten doesn’t seem to be in for a whole lot of changes, there are some big fights brewing in the other categories. With 10 nominees, all of these films are more likely to be seen by Academy voters.. making it all the more interesting.

– David Poland
September 30, 2009