2013 TIFF films getting early Oscar buzz

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

For those who felt Ben Affleck’s Argo slighted the Canadians in its re-telling of the Iran Hostage “Canadian Caper,” there’s an extra irony in its Academy Awards Best Picture win.

Argo made its debut at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, a launching pad for best picture Oscar winners. In fact it was the sixth straight TIFF film to do so – following on the heels of No Country For Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech and The Artist.

But if Argo taught us anything, it’s that Americans (or at least Hollywood studios) don’t like to share credit with Canadians. So there’s at least one film considered a very good Oscar bet that is waiting to debut at the end of September at the New York Film Festival.

That would be the Tom Hanks starrer Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass’ film about the real-life 2009 hijacking of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship by Somalian pirates.

In fact, on releasing its line-up, TIFF first announced it had that movie, then quickly released a correction.

Captain Phillips remains an anomaly, however. TIFF still marks the starting gun for awards season. And the still-tentative list of what could end up called to the Academy podium is pretty comprehensively represented here this year.

(Although some will surely fall on their face. Remember Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter or George Clooney’s The Ides of March?)

Anyway, there’s some early buzzing about:

Gravity:

Alfonso Cuaron’s film starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts stranded in orbit after debris hits their shuttle during a space walk. (Oscar talk will follow Clooney, whatever he’s in, short of Ocean’s 19.)

August: Osage County.

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are among the women of an Oklahoma clan who reunite in the family homestead. From an acclaimed play. And did I mention Meryl Streep?

Rush.

The story of racers/bitter-frenemies Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and his swaggering competitor James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The last time Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan (The Queen) collaborated, they came up with Frost/Nixon.

The Dallas Buyers Club.

Matthew McConaughey famously pulled a reverse De Niro, becoming crazily thin to play ‘80s AIDs activist Ron Woodroof in a film directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y.).

12 Years A Slave.

Director Steve McQueen (Hunger) directs Chiwetel Ejiofor (Amistad) in the pre-Civil War story of a free black man who is abducted into slavery.

The Fifth Estate.

Every year, some act of mimicry gets awards attention. The TIFF opening nighter this year is Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in a highly-touted take on the Wikileaks affair.

Labor Day.

Apparently having had a quirk-ectomy, Jason Reitman (Juno) debuts an ‘80s period drama about a mother (Kate Winslet) and son giving a ride to an escaped convict (Josh Brolin). From the Joyce Maynard novel.

Parkland.

Tom Hanks produced this dramatic weaving together of characters and events on the day of the JFK assassination, based on a book by Vincent Bugliosi (Helter Skelter). Cast includes Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, Jackie Earle Haley and Zac Efron.

FOREIGN BUZZ

It doesn't matter where you live, or how well-stocked your town is with art-house theatres. There will be films at the Toronto International Film Festival you may never chance to see again (downloads notwithstanding).

And it's likely those films will be foreign. Here's a scratch-the-surface rundown of some that caught our eyes, and others' this year. The first place to look is obviously at Cannes.

- Blue Is The Warmest Color, an intense French film about a lesbian love affair, won the Palme d'Or. It would be a cinch for a Best Foreign-Language film Oscar nom but for a bureaucratic scheduling glitch.

- Like Father Like Son. This Cannes Jury Prize winner is likely Oscar-bound. From Japan's Hiokazu Kore-Eda, it's about a rich and poor family who discover their sons were switched at birth.

- Attila Marcel. Speaking of Oscars. This first live-action film by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville) is about a mute, man-child whose ignited memories of life as a toddler manifest as fanciful musical episodes.

- Rock The Casbah. Acclaimed Israeli film about an 18-year-old soldier who's assigned to the 1989 Intifada intent on avenging a friend and faces reality instead.

- The Wind Rises. Animator Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) with a tale of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the beautifully-crafted Zero fighter.

- Cold Eyes. Korean-Canadian co-production about a heist that's monitored by a police surveillance team. Directing team includes Kim Byung-seo, who did the Korean version of Dangerous Liaisons.

- The Past. Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)'s film about an Iranian man who travels to Paris for a divorce, and finds himself dramatically drawn back into the life of his ex and her daughter.

- Burning Bush. Agnieszka Holland's long-form docu-drama about the 1969 "Prague Spring" and its brutal end.

- Quai Dorsay. Bertrand Tavernier (Life And Nothing But) with a satire about a charming but incompetent French foreign minister and his global misadventures.

- Gloria. Another Cannes favourite was this film by the Chilean Sebastian Lelio, about a fiftysomething divorcee (Paulina Garcia) who gets her groove back.


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