Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain Enter Oscar Race with TIFF Award Tributes

Toronto has always helped to launch Oscar contenders — 2021 is no exception.
Benedict Cumberbatch interview. File photo dated 12/5/2019 of Benedict Cumberbatch who has said his character in new film The Courier has a "weird relevance" today because of the everyday heroes who have helped society come through the pandemic. In the Cold War film, the actor plays Greville Wynne, a British travelling businessman who became a spy who is said to have helped diffuse the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Issue date: Monday August 9, 2021. See PA story SHOWBIZ Cumberbatch. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire URN:61549991 (Press Association via AP Images)
Benedict Cumberbatch

As the 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (running September 9–18) moves forward in hybrid form with live events in Toronto as well as virtual screenings, Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, are mounting two awards tributes to follow the already announced TIFF Ebert Director Award to Canadian auteur Denis Villeneuve (“Dune”).

This year’s Actor Tributes go to Oscar nominees Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”) and Jessica Chastain (“The Help,” “Zero Dark Thirty”). Cumberbatch stars in two films showing at TIFF, Jane Campion western “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) and Will Sharpe’s period drama “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” (Amazon).

Chastain’s performance (and makeup) as a notorious televangelist in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight), is picking up Oscar buzz. Michael Showalter’s long-delayed marital dramedy will make its world premiere at TIFF.

2021 Oscar-winners Sir Anthony Hopkins (Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Father”) and Chloé Zhao (Searchlight’s “Nomadland”) and nominated composer Terence Blanchard (Netflix’s “Da 5 Bloods”) all launched their Oscar campaigns at TIFF’s second annual Tribute Awards fundraiser. The year before, TIFF’s first Awards Gala honored eventual Oscar winners Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”) and Joaquin Phoenix (“The Joker”).

Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog”Netflix

In a statement, Vicente cited such memorable Cumberbatch TIFF performances as Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game,” and Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate.” “He also has an uncanny ability to take on interesting, complex roles and make them his own in films such as ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'” she said.

Cumberbatch won an Emmy Award for playing the role of Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock” and a BAFTA for his role in the series “Patrick Melrose.” Additional upcoming films include Jon Watts’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” for Columbia Pictures and “Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness” for Marvel. Cumberbatch produced and starred in “The Mauritanian” and “The Courier”; other credits include “1917,” “War Horse,” “Atonement,” “The Hobbit,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “Black Mass,” “August: Osage County,” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

Vincente noted such notable TIFF Chastain premieres as “The Debt,” “Take Shelter,” “The Martian,” “Crimson Peak,” and “Molly’s Game,” adding, “She is one of the most respected actors of her generation. Her recent portrayal of Tammy Faye Bakker is a testament to her exceptional onscreen presence and talent.”

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” will track “the rise, fall, and redemption through the ’70s and ’80s of thick-lashed singing televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, who rose with her husband, Jim Bakker, from a humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park.” Eventually, their heavy spending and financial improprieties brought down their empire.

"The Eyes of Tammy Faye"
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”Searchlight

Chastain will next be seen opposite Oscar Isaac in HBO’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s 1970s miniseries. In 2022, she will be seen in “The 355,” an international spy thriller based on an original idea by Chastain for her production company Freckle Films. Chastain will shortly play music legend Tammy Wynette in the limited series “George & Tammy” opposite Josh Brolin.

In 2019, Chastain starred in the global hit sequel “It Chapter Two,” and, prior to that, in the X-Men franchise, “Dark Phoenix,” and Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game,” which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She has also starred in the critically acclaimed “A Most Violent Year,” “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Miss Julie,” “Interstellar,” and Terrence Malick’s Academy Award-nominated drama “Tree of Life,” “The Debt,” “Take Shelter,” “Zero Dark 30,” and “The Help,” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Per TIFF, “the Government of Canada is planning to open its borders for non-essential travel for American citizens and permanent residents on August 9, 2021 and citizens of any country on September 7, 2021, assuming that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favorable, and that visitors have been fully vaccinated with Government of Canada–approved vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen – Johnson & Johnson -AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD) at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Travelers must also meet the pre-entry test requirements; provide a digital copy of vaccination documents and COVID-19 information electronically through the ArriveCAN app prior to arrival in Canada; provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine in case border agents determine they do not meet the necessary requirements; be asymptomatic upon arrival; and participate in random COVID-19 testing.”

Meet these requirements and you can travel to Canada without having to quarantine, including the elimination of the three-night hotel quarantine policy. This allows TIFF to welcome a slice of its usual cadre of international press, industry, and talent back to the festival as permitted by the Canadian government.

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