For those who get to attend the sprawling Toronto International Film Festival, with its 300 or so movies crammed into a little over a week, it's like summer camp for movie lovers, with countless star-spotting opportunities, fellow film buffs crowding the streets and the bars, and more good movies than you can possibly see. For the rest of us, however, the festival is a good predictor of which movies will be captivating us at awards season.
TIFF wrapped last night with 'The King's Speech,' the drama about King George VI (Colin Firth) steeling himself and Britain for World War II, winning the Cadillac People's Choice Award. Being named the audience favorite is a good omen, not just for the movie's commercial prospects, but for the Oscars as well; the last two movies to win that citation at TIFF were 'Precious' and 'Slumdog Millionaire.'
Moviefone and its partners have spent the last several days immersing readers in coverage of the festival, with celebrity interviews, reviews, deal reports and capturing the buzz from those Toronto selections most likely to wow you in theaters over the next few months and to grab for awards glory when Oscar season starts. Here's a quick rundown of the highlights of this year's TIFF.
10 Movies That Made Headlines:
•'Biutiful' (Release Date TBD): Crime drama from director Alejandro González Iñárritu, starring Javier Bardem. Moviefone interviews Bardem | IndieWire interviews Iñárritu
•'Blue Valentine' (Dec. 31): Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this sexually charged drama about a couple's courtship and disintegration. IndieWire interviews director Derek Cianfrance
•'Black Swan' (Dec. 1): Darren Aronofsky's much-anticipated follow-up to 'The Wrestler' stars Natalie Portman as a ballet dancer whose claws come out when competing with rival Mila Kunis. Choice quotes from the 'Black Swan' press conference | IndieWire interviews Aronofsky
•'The King's Speech' (Nov. 24): In this drama set on the eve of World War II, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are said to be Oscar shoo-ins for their roles as England's stammering King George VI and his Australian speech therapist. Moviefone interviews Firth
•'Rabbit Hole' (2010): One of the most acclaimed dramas of this year's TIFF stars Nicole Kidman (in a performance likely to garner year-end awards) and Aaron Eckhart as parents mourning the death of their toddler. Moviefone review | IndieWire interviews director John Cameron Mitchell
•'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger' (Sept. 22): Woody Allen's latest dramedy of love and betrayal includes such stars as Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, and Freida Pinto. Interview with Woody Allen
•'127 Hours' (Nov. 5): 'Slumdog Millionaire' director Danny Boyle's true-life drama stars James Franco as Aron Ralston, the mountaineer who was trapped for days beneath a fallen boulder until he summoned the wherewithal to cut off his own arm. As intense as it sounds, reportedly causing fainting and seizures in some viewers. IndieWire interviews Franco
•'Everything Must Go' (2011): Will Ferrell plays a rare dramatic role in this adaptation of a Raymond Carver story about a man who loses his job and his wife on the same day and winds up living on his front lawn. Moviefone review | Interview with Ferrell
•'Waiting for Superman' (Sept. 24): Director Davis Guggenheim's follow-up to 'An Inconvenient Truth' is a documentary that focuses on America's broken public education system and what some people, from Bill Gates to educator Geoffrey Canada, are doing about it. Gates, Canada, and others speak at the TIFF screening | IndieWire interviews Guggenheim
•'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' (2011): Werner Herzog's documentary about a never-before-photographed set of prehistoric cave paintings in France was a 3-D movie that even noted 3-D hater Roger Ebert could love. IFC will release the film in theaters next year before it goes to TV on the History Channel. Moviefone review
Other Buzz-worthy Movies:
•'Another Year' (Dec. 29): A family drama from master of kitchen-sink realism Mike Leigh, starring Jim Broadbent. Moviefone review
•'Barney's Version' (Date TBD): An adaptation of Mordecai Richler's satiric novel about the life and loves of the abrasive Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti). Sony Pictures Classics bought this but hasn't announced a release date yet. Moviefone review
•'Super' (Date TBD): A dark superhero satire, à la 'Kick-Ass,' starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. This became one of the first purchases at the festival when IFC Films picked this up Moviefone review | Clip
•'Dirty Girl' (2011): Teen drama set in the '80s; think 'Easy A' without the laughs. Got mixed reviews, but was the talk of the fest when the Weinstein Co. paid $3 million for it.
•'Meek's Cutoff' (first half of 2011): A western starring Michelle Williams and directed by Kelly Reichardt, who directed Williams in the acclaimed 'Wendy and Lucy' a couple years ago. Earned rave reviews from everyone. Reichardt talks about one character's unlikely inspiration.
Deals: Nicole Kidman Enters Oscar Race
TIFF isn't usually thought of as a deal-making festival; there are no jury-driven prizes to spur purchases, and many films come into the fest with distribution deals for fall release dates already in place. Still, this was reportedly one of the busiest dealmaking editions of TIFF ever. The cash-strapped Weinstein Co., perhaps aiming to return to Harvey Weinstein's glory days as an Oscar power broker, spent freely, buying 'Dirty Girl' for $3 million and also acquiring 'Sarah's Key' and 'Submarine.'
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions went in together on not one but two movies: Robert Redford's Lincoln assassination drama 'The Conspirator' and Will Ferrell drama 'Everything Must Go.' Lionsgate also bought what was perhaps the fest's most acclaimed film, the Nicole Kidman drama 'Rabbit Hole,' with the intent of releasing it before the end of the year so that it qualifies for Oscars. IFC Films bought two Rainn Wilson movies, 'Super' and 'Peep World.' It also bought Werner Herzog's 3-D documentary 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams,' after a bidding war broke out. When a bidding war breaks out for a movie by a director as uncompromising and uncommercial as Herzog, you know business is booming.
Who Was the Festival's "It" Girl?
Every festival needs an "It" girl. Nominees included Sally Hawkins and her frequent costar Andrea Riseborough, both of whom starred in several films at this year's TIFF. Or maybe it's Abigail Breslin. The 'Little Miss Sunshine' moppet, now 14, stars in TIFF movie 'Janie Jones' as a girl who discovers her dad is a famous rocker, and she proved her own vocal chops singing at the film's afterparty.
Full TIFF Coverage: You can go back and read all of Moviefone's coverage of this year's TIFF at our Toronto Film Festival category page. Links to IndieWire's extensive coverage are all on this page.
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.