Answer: Before The Weinstein Company's back to back best picture wins these past two years, it was the story of a little distributor that could when Summit Entertainment's "The Hurt Locker" topped the box office juggernaut that was "Avatar." Other than being the distributor of "Twilight," that's been Summit Entertainment's only really other major claim to fame... Until now?
Sadly, not as far as Oscar goes. Summit had two of the most buzzed about films heading into the Toronto International Film Festival: Juan Antonio Bayona's narrative depiction of a family's struggle in the 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami, "The Impossible," and Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his own 1999 coming-of-age novel, "The Perks of the Being a Wallflower." The former could definitely factor into a few races (namely for Naomi Watt's lead performance), but in general its perhaps a bit too oversentimental and thin even for Oscar. The latter, meanwhile, is an excellent little film that warrants Oscar attention more than "The Impossible" (particularly for Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller's performances and Chbosky's screenplay). But its teen-fueled content is unlikely to appeal to enough voters when all is said and done.
Question: Bradley Cooper, Oscar nominee?
Answer: He has a very, very good shot. From "The Hangover" to "The A-Team" to well, "The Hangover, Part II," Bradley Cooper has never exactly seemed destined for Oscar glory. But the huge buzz surrounding lead role as a mentally unstable former teacher in David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" might very well change that.
Cooper -- alongside co-stars Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro -- was lauded for his work in the film, and he had the unique distinction of starring in not one but two of Toronto's most acclaimed titles. His work as a cop-turned-politician on a collision course with Ryan Gosling in Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Behind The Pines" also found great reviews. Though that film -- picked up out of the festival by Focus Features -- is set for a 2013 release, and thus is out of this year's conversation. But maybe a year from now we'll be asking: Bradley Cooper, two-time Oscar nominee?
Answer: Well, a lot. Perhaps the most ambitious film set to premiere on the fall fest circuit, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski's "Cloud Atlas" is a 164-minute, $100 million adaptation of a best-selling book that many felt might be unadaptable. And in the end, some agreed. But not everyone. The film definitely had its fair share of cautious supporters (Indiewire's Eric Kohn admired the "sense of ambition that pushes it forward"), but not the kind of support necessary to push something into the Oscar race.
That said, when Warner Brothers releases the film next month, things could change. Strong box office and public support (both very unassured at this point) would be a huge boost for the film. But until that happens, a few technical nods are the film's only safe bets.
Question Can Terrence Malick make it two in a row?
Answer: Highly unlikely. Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" definitely surprised a few people when it ended up getting nominated for best picture and best director last year, but it went to show what a passionate base of fans he has in the Academy. But his follow-up, "To The Wonder," has so far been tough for even Malick's fans to fully appreciate.
Voted Toronto's most disappointing film in this poll, "To The Wonder" found the most mixed reviews of Malick's career (granted, Indiewire's was quite positive). And it's also yet to find a distributor. It surely will sooner or later, but the chances of it being released this year are somewhat slim when it does.