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Toronto Film Festival 2016: What Films Will Contend For Oscar Gold After TIFF Premieres

Toronto is a crucible for awards contenders, as a critical mass of media weighs in on each film's Oscar merits — or lack thereof.



Focus Features

The Toronto Film Festival, which runs September 8-18, announced its lineup today with a ton of potential Oscar contenders — but it’s not the only showcase that some of them will have in the fall. TIFF has been sensitive of late about Labor Day weekend rival Telluride’s annual panoply of unannounced Oscar contenders. However, the two film events work in concert, as the earlier well-curated festival — attended by a small coterie of influencers — builds buzz for the later, sprawling TIFF, with its larger mass of junket media, including the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes on the Golden Globes.

READ MORE: TIFF Reveals First Slate of 2016 Titles, Including ‘Magnificent Seven,’ ‘American Honey,’ ‘La La Land’ and ‘Birth of A Nation’

Venice debuts many awards contenders as well, but American awards pundits are in Telluride, where many Oscar calls are made (“The King’s Speech,” “12 Years a Slave”) and surprises emerge (“Slumdog Millionaire”).

Word is leaking on some Telluride titles, which aren’t officially announced until Thursday, September 1. Venice is debuting opener “La La Land,” a musical from Damien Chazelle (Lionsgate), Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Oscar perennial Amy Adams, who also stars in Paramount’s “Arrival,” a space thriller from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, whose “Sicario” landed three 2016 tech Oscar nominations. All three are Toronto galas.

Among the expected awards contenders are Peter Berg’s “Deepwater Horizon” starring Mark Wahlberg (Lionsgate), J.A. Bayona’s “A Monster Calls,” a drama starring Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson (Focus Features), Garth Davis’s “Lion,” starring Dev Patel (Weinstein Co.), Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo (Disney), and Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for which Open Road started growing awareness at Comic-Con.

Fest opener Antoine Fuqua’s western redo “The Magnificent Seven” (Sony) and rookie Kelly Fremon Craig’s James Brooks-produced closing night comedy “The Edge of Seventeen” (STX Entertainment) make unlikely awards entries. But you never know.


Gael Garcia Bernal in ‘Neruda’

As expected, a number of already established festival titles are in the Toronto lineup, including Sundance breakouts “Birth of a Nation” (Nate Parker, Fox Searchlight) and “Manchester by the Sea” (Kenneth Lonergan, Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions), which are Special Presentations and will vie for big awards in the months to come. Another Cannes entry comes from Jim Jarmusch (“Patterson,” Amazon/Bleecker), starring Adam Driver, which was recently pushed up to an awards-friendly release date.

Additional filmmakers bringing their awards season hopefuls from Cannes: Andrea Arnold (“American Honey,” A24), starring Shia LaBeouf, Pablo Larrain (“Neruda,”  starring Gael Garcia Bernal, The Orchard), Paul Verhoeven (“Elle,” Sony Pictures Classics, starring likely Oscar contender Isabelle Huppert, who competes with herself in Sundance Selects’ French Berlin entry “Things to Come” from Mia Hansen-Løve), and Maren Ade (German comedy “Toni Erdmann, Sony Pictures Classics).

And then there’s Jeff Nichols “Loving” (Focus Features), starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as a pioneering southern biracial couple, which TIFF accorded Gala status for a reason. It’s a shoo-in for major Oscar contention.



Other Toronto Special Presentations whose awards potential will be gauged by critics and press include director-star Ewan McGregor’s Philip Roth adaptation “American Pastoral” (Lionsgate), Jim Sheridan’s “The Secret Scripture,” starring Rooney Mara, which is presumably being sold to buyers by bankrupt Relativity Media, and Ben Younger boxing film “Bleed for This” starring Miles Teller (Open Road). This marks the second attempt to get a boxing movie into awards season competition, after The Weinstein Company unsuccessfully launched “Hands of Stone” at Cannes in May.

Other women directors in the gala lineup include acquisition titles from Canadian filmmaker Bronwen Hughes (“The Journey is the Destination”), Katherine Dieckmann (“Strange Weather”), Lone Scherfig (“Their Finest”), Amma Asante (London Film Fest opener “A United Kingdom”), and Rebecca Zlotowski (“Planetarium”). “Paris Can Wait,” a narrative film from Eleanor Coppola, is a Special Presentation. Whether any of these titles have awards potential remains to be seen.

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