Following up on our first recap of how potential Oscar contenders fared at the Toronto Film Festival, word continues to flow south from Hollywood north.
However, it turns out the biggest drama of the 10-day fest may not even have unfolded on the big screen. NY Post critic Lou Lumenick and Chicago Sun Times scribe Roger Ebert had a real-life altercation during last Saturday's packed press screening of breakout hit "Slumdog Millionaire." Seems Lou was blocking Roger from seeing the subtitles and after Roger, being unable to speak due to ongoing health issues, tapped him on the shoulder a few times, Lou hit back. Ebert, who attended the fest despite his ongoing health problems, did not write about the incident till the New York Daily News ran with it. To read Roger's version of events, CLICK HERE (Lou has remained mum on the matter.)
As for the movie he was struggling to watch, Ebert called it "a leading contender for the all-important Audience Award, which is the closest thing the Toronto Film Festival has to a top prize. And an Oscar best picture nomination is a definite possibility." (Yes, Roger's right and remember, dear Gold Derby reader, I called this one earlier — HERE.) For Roger's full review of "Slumdog Millionaire" — CLICK HERE.
Over at AndTheWinnerIs blog, Scott Feinberg agrees that "Slumdog Millionaire" "unquestionably deserves to be an award winner" and posts a leisurely podcast chat with director Danny Boyle (CLICK HERE to give a listen).
At the Hollywood Reporter's Risky Biz Blog, Steven Zeitchik hails "Slumdog" as "one of the nuggets to emerge" from Toronto, but reports an issue that may cause an Oscar glitch: It's locked "in an interesting little give-and-take with the MPAA. The arbiter of ratings standards is considering giving the pic, which contains some visceral violent images but nothing even close to raunchy, an R rating, while Searchlight and Boyle are pushing hard for the PG-13."
Elsewhere at the Risky Biz Blog, Borys Kit reports that Mickey Rourke's performance does, indeed, live up to the hype in "The Wrestler." READ MORE.
Following the successful launch of her French-language pic "I've Loved You So Long" at Telluride, English beauty Kristin Scott Thomas continued to pile up the rave reviews in Toronto too. Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere.com says, "She'll definitely land a best actress nomination, and she just might win, considering that she achieves so much in ILYSL with very little 'acting.'" He is equally enthusiastic about the film, calling it, "a landmark-level achievement" and putting it at the top of the year's best.
Ebert is more tempered in his response to the film: "An actor in the right role can be transforming, and be transformed. Consider Kristin Scott Thomas in 'I've Loved You So Long.' She is known to us as British, but effortlessly plays a mysterious French woman who returns from prison to her family after an absence that is only slowly revealed. This new French film by Philippe Claudel guards its secrets and focuses on their emotional aftermath." As such, Ebert thought, "With no expository dialogue to win us over, Scott Thomas does, anyway, but by sheer force of her personality. She's a possibility for an Oscar nomination."
Over at Gold Rush, T.L. Stanley weighed in on the Oscar odds of "The Hurt Locker" noting that, "as even Oscar pedigrees haven't been able to entice people to see recent dramas based on the most unpopular war since Vietnam, new player Summit will have its work cut out." Reporting for AwardsDaily.com, Nancy Kriparos thought helmer Kathryn Bigelow delivers "an excellent film and probably the best I have seen thus far on the Iraq experience."
Anne Thompson of Variety.com says Bigelow "has more talent and style and smarts than she does strong commercial sense. But perhaps because she was ready to prove her mettle, she went against the grain and did her own thing with 'The Hurt Locker,' financed independently." Watch Anne's flip-cam video chat with Bigelow HERE.
Edward Douglas of ComingSoon.net passed judgment on courtroom drama "Nothing But the Truth" saying, "Kate Beckinsale gives the best performance of her career" and he thought this "may be one of Rod Lurie’s strongest film scripts that really pops due to such memorable performances from all involved." Douglas "expects the cast, particularly Beckinsale, and Lurie’s script to get a lot of attention in the next few months."
Douglas was also enthusiastic about "Me and Orson Welles" the latest from Richard Linklater with Zac Efron starring as a teenager cast in Orson Welles' 1937 radio production of "Julius Caesar." For Douglas, "Christian McKay, who plays Orson Welles (reprising the role he played in "Rosebud"), was excellent, as was the screenplay." In agreement was John Foote of InContention.com, who thought, "McKay transforms himself into the tyrannical, mysterious Welles, capturing the man’s beautiful speaking voice, his cadences, his movement, and most brilliantly, his presence."
And count Foote among those disappointed with Viggo Mortensen in "Good." As he writes, "Never have I seen a film about the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazi party with such little emotion." And he thought Mortensen, "usually an actor of uncommon grace and intelligence, seems lost in the film. Perhaps he too was not clear where the director was going, but he never seems connected to this role."
BELOW: ZAC EFRON IN 'ME AND ORSON WELLES'
(Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, Pinewood Studios)