The TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, along with the VENICE and TELLURIDE fests, traditionally launches the marathon of screenings, interviews and celebrity appearances that lead up to the Oscars.

“Toronto has a track record over the years of breaking films for awards consideration,” said PIERS HANDLING, director of the festival which runs through next Saturday. “We’re perfectly positioned in September to sort of tee it off.”

While surprises almost always materialize at year’s end, the lineup so far looks heavy on familiar Oscar names, a veteran or two finally getting recognition and a handful of fresh faces.

The Toronto rollout includes such potential candidates as ANNE HATHAWAY for her stark family drama RACHEL GETTING MARRIED and relative unknown SALLY HAWKINS for the dramedy HAPPY GO LUCKY.

SALLY HAWKINS offers a stellar performance as a teacher whose eternal optimism is put through the ringer in the latest offering from MIKE LEIGH, who has a history of putting British female actors on the map with VERA DRAKE and SECRETS & LIES.

Another star in a potential breakout role is OMAR BENSON MILLER, who steals the show as a gentle giant among a foursome of U.S. soldiers in MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, SPIKE LEE’S tale about members of an all black unit trapped behind enemy lines in Italy during the Second World War.

Like most stars and filmmakers during awards season, SPIKE LEE brushed aside the Oscar prospects for his picture. “Not concerned. It’s not why I make films,” he stated flatly. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Potential nominees are generally cautious about discussing the possibility of either being nominated or actually winning an OSCAR.

“I’d go insane,” said DANIEL CRAIG, who follows his JAMES BOND adventure QUANTUM OF SOLACE with the Second World War Jewish resistance drama DEFIANCE as a Christmas release.

“I’d be lying to you if I said that I never think about it. But I really do try to think about it as little as possible.”

Among other awards hopefuls are MILK, in which SEAN PENN stars as slain politician HARVEY MILK; the Catholic school drama DOUBT with MERYL STREEP, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN and AMY ADAMS and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (a fantasy about a man who ages backward) with BRAD PITT and CATE BLANCHETT.

ANGELINA JOLIE also drew solid awards buzz at CANNES for CLINT EASTWOOD’S missing child drama CHANGELING.

Oscar winner RON HOWARD offers FROST/NIXON, featuring FRANK LANGELLA as RICHARD NIXON and MICHAEL SHEEN as interviewer DAVID FROST. They are both reprising their stage roles. RON HOWARD would not discuss his chances for another OSCAR, though he could not conceal his enthusiasm for his collaborators.

“It’s probably not for me to say at this point. But they’re remarkable performances. They really are – and the writing is outstanding. I’m very proud of the movie and I’d love nothing better than for it to find its way into the awards season discussion.”

Current unknown quantities on the OSCAR radar are AUSTRALIA – which reunites NICOLE KIDMAN with visionary director BAZ LUHRMANN – and VALKYRIE, which stars TOM CRUISE.


  1. I wonder if Benicio Del Toro enters the Oscar fray for Che now that it’s going to get an Oscar qualifying run in December.

    Sigh. I’m not ready yet, but I guess it’s really time to sit down and start seriously thinking about Oscar, isn’t it? Seems like we just had the friggin’ ceremony.

  2. Time goes by pretty quickly, my little crab cake.

    It’s like FERRIS BUELLER said. If you’re not careful, you just might miss it.

    Though Mr. Soderbergh is one of my heroes, I personally hope that the Oscars gives CHE a pass. There are many people that I respect and adore that are waiting for this with bated breath.

    (And you know who you are, too…)


    When you go, let me know how it is, honey. I’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming. But I think the only big nom it can receive is for Benicio…and I have a feeling he just might miss.

    The Best Actor contenders are piling up like gridlock traffic RIGHT ABOUT…NOW.

    I’d rather do almost anything else. There are a couple of things that spring immediately to mind….

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