Oscar season starts in Canada
On Feb. 22 of this year, we were treated to an Academy Awards telecast that did not disappoint.
However, it has been a little over six months since the prestigious ceremony, with Oscar
worthy films released being few and far between. Fortunately, the discussions surrounding the Academy Awards have begun once again at the 37th annual Toronto Film Festival, which kicked off on Sept. 5. This 10
day festival is widely perceived as the unofficial start to the Academy Awards season; a period of time between now and the 2014 Oscars where the best movies of the year vie for the consideration of the Academy at high profile film festivals and award ceremonies.
This year, “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” clearly separated themselves as Best Motion Picture of the Year frontrunners at the showcase, planting the seeds for what is sure to be a heated debate. “12 Years a Slave” is based on an autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northup. The harrowing true story begins with Northup, a free man in New York, being duped, drugged, kidnapped from his family and sold into slavery in the South. The depiction of Northup’s 12 horrific years took Toronto by storm with a memorable showing.
“This 10-day festival is widely perceived as the unofficial start to the Academy Awards season”
Guardian Film Editor Catherine Shoard wrote, “’12 Years a Slave’ was met on Friday evening [Sept. 6] with an overwhelming reaction: gasps, sobs, a smattering of walkouts at particularly brutal moments, and finally, a prolonged standing ovation.”
The fi lm also took home the Blackberry People’s Choice award. Four out of the last fi ve winners of this went on to be best picture nominees with two (2008’s “Slumdog Millionare” and 2010’s “The King’s Speech”) claiming the top honor. “At a festival that has shown so many brilliant fi lms, I cannot be more thrilled to receive this award,” director Steve McQueen said in a statement to the press. “I am deeply grateful to all the people who have worked on this film, and their amazing work has been recognized.” “Prisoners”, a thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, took third place in the People’s Choice vote. Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” continued to impress at Toronto after strong showings in the Telluride and Venice film festivals. The visual spectacle follows two astronauts (played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) adrift in space after an accident.
“A popcorn movie of breathtaking technical achievement and surprising emotional warmth, ‘Gravity,’ like ‘12 Years a Slave’ deserves to be distinguished as a masterpiece,” Ann Hornady of The Washington Post wrote.
“…both use image, sound, and silence to plunge the audience into an otherwise unattainable world, giving viewers a new visual rhetoric for ideas and experiences that were heretofore abstract and distant.” “Gravity” will release in theaters on October 4 and “12 Years a Slave” will bow in limited fashion on Oct. 18.
With the Toronto Film Festival now in the books, the Oscars speculation now turns to the 51st annual New York Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 13.
The Tom Hanks thriller “Captain Phillips” will open the festival and Ben Stiller’s “The Secret life of Walter Mitty” will screen on Oct. 5. Spike Jonze’s “Her” will serve as the closer. All of these films will be premiered to the public for the first time at the festival.