It was that time of the year again. Film lovers came in droves to Toronto to spend the last few sunny days of summer inside theaters. The Toronto International Film – TIFF for short – showed over 350 films. Usually known for their distinguished selection that paves the way to the award season, this year they were a little bit overshadowed by other festivals. Cannes, Venice and Telluride showed many of the highly anticipated films already and very few movies celebrated their world premiere on Canadian soil. Read on…
Despite this little hiccup the line-up was impressive. Two trends were prevalent in several films.
First, there were actors playing actors. Julianne Moore portrayed an aging and desperate Hollywood star in David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars. She won Best Actress at Cannes for her performance. Al Pacino plays an actor in Barry Levinson’s The Humbling. Additionally, Winter Sleep (Cannes Palme D’Or winning movie from Turkey), Top Five (directed and starring Chris Rock) and Clouds of Sils Maria (with Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart) center around the world of thespians in one way or another.
Trend Number Two were films about or with music. In Whiplash (won Sundance, starring Miles Teller in a breakthrough performance) and Boychoir (starring newcomer Garrett Wareing, who bares a strong resemblance to the young Leonardo DiCaprio and shows great talent) young men try to prove their worth to strict teachers. Love & Mercy on the other hand is a biopic of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. And Bang Bang Baby, Eden and Beyond the Lights show the lives of musicians and singers.
While there was no clear front-runner at TIFF 2014, the movies that were talked about most were Foxcatcher, Mommy, Whiplash, Wild, St Vincent, Mr Turner, Rosewater and The Theory of Everything.
The top prize at TIFF is the audience award and that went to crowd-pleaser and favorite among the critics The Imitation Game. The film stars festival-darling Benedict Cumberbatch as codebreaker Alan Turing and is directed by Norwegian helmer Morten Tyldum. Runner-up was Learning to Drive n directed by Isabel Coixet and starring Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson.
And of course this festival would not be complete without some Oscar buzz speculation in terms of actor’s performances. Julianne Moore seems to be an outstanding best actress candidate since she impressed not once, but twice, in both Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars and in Still Alice in which she portrays an Alzheimer’s patient. In Alice, directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland , Moore was applauded for the emotional notes of her performance.
A for other potential Oscar nods, there’s been speculation in the category of Best Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, Bill Murray in St Vincent, Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher and Timothy Spall in Mr Turner.