From "The Hangover" to "The A-Team" to well, "The Hangover, Part II," Bradley Cooper has never exactly seemed destined for Oscar glory. But two films premiering at the Toronto Film Festival could potentially change that: David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" and Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Behind the Pines."
Both Russell and Cianfrance saw their last films -- "The Fighter" and "Blue Valentine" -- boast acting nominations ("The Fighter" even had two wins), and Cooper has juicy roles in both their films. He plays a cop-turned-politician on a collision course with Ryan Gosling in "Pines," and a mentally unstable man whose forced to live his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) in "Silver Linings."
The former doesn't have a distributor, while the latter -- clearly the meatier part -- is set for release in November and has the backing of Harvey Weinstein. So the parts are in place in regard, now Cooper just needs Toronto audiences and critics to give him a push.
4. What's up with "Cloud Atlas"?
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. But the fact that distributor Warner Brothers is willing to even give it a festival slot suggests they have some faith in it. The six-minute trailer they released last month definitely had some of the book's fans finding faith in it as well.
But with multiple storylines, a challenging narrative featuring various name actors (four of them Oscar winners, notably) playing multiple parts, and a trio of directors who collectively miss as much as they hit, "Atlas" will be a question mark until its first TIFF screening. But if it goes over as well , it could definitely be a force to be reckoned with.
Terrance 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 goes to show what a passionate base of fans he has in the Academy.
His follow-up, "To The Wonder," is said to be even more experimental than "Life," and is shockingly heading to Venice and TIFF (the director often averages a good decade between films). It doesn't have a distributor yet, but it seems hard to imagine that won't happen quickly. And if they end up releasing it by year's end, could Malick make it two a row? We'll have a much better idea when it premieres in Venice this Sunday.
6. Is "Quartet" the new "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"?
Another comedic drama about a group of British retirees starring Maggie Smith? That's the premise of Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut "Quartet," which stars Smith alongside Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly as a group of retired opera singers. Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his own play, the film could give 2012 a second senior-citizen cinema success story... or it could get lost in the shadow of the hugely successful "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
But can lightning strike twice? Between those two films and "Downton Abbey," it could become the year of Maggie Smith, and "Quartet" -- in which she will campaign as lead (she'll be supporting for "Hotel") -- could be her best shot at a seventh Oscar nomination (she already has two statuettes). Who knows, maybe Oscar will even double up on the Dame.