2010 TIFF Recap

Posted on December 4, 2011

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9/23/10-The 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, which ran between Sep 9-19, showcased a large number of films, but what was most interesting this year were the few select films that are generating quite a bit of Oscar buzz. Below are a few of these films and my thoughts on their position in this year’s Oscar race.

1. The Social Network

Premiere: October 1

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

Directed by: David Fincher

Response: Although various press outlets have given universal acclaim to Eisenberg’s performance along with Sorkin’s writing and Fincher’s directorial skills, I’m still conflicted.

As soon as I saw the trailer, I was hooked for a variety of reasons. I’m a fan of Eisenberg because of his versatality, and this movie has him playing against his usual nebbish, awkward character type. Aaron Sorkin is a phenomenal writer who has written and developed one of my favorite movies and an excellent television show (A Few Good Men and The West Wing),  so I’m curious to see how well he adapted the book on which TSN is based on.

Despite the positive word of mouth the film is gathering, I feel there are a fair number of factors that could affect its success. Fincher is known for directing moody, dark thrillers such as Se7en, so I’m curious to see how he can handle a biopic that contains no psychological undertones. Andrew Garfield (Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man replacement)  is a newcomer to the acting game, so his performance could affect the film, while no movie has ever benefited from the inclusion of Justin Timberlake.

Final verdict: There are too many unpredictable factors that might hinder TSN’s Oscar chances. It won’t face much competition upon its release, but the definite continued success of The Town and the Wall Street sequel could seriously hamper the film’s performance. A Golden Globe would definitely be possible, but its Oscar future looks bleak.

2. 127 Hours

Premiere: November 5

Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Response: A man’s arm is pinned under a large boulder. He is stuck in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight. If he does not figure a way out, he will surely die and his only means of escape is a blunt knife.

If you think this is a premise for another trap in the Saw film franchise, you are mistaken. In 127 Hours, James Franco portrays Aron Ralston, the real life mountaineer who got trapped underneath a boulder in the Utah dessert and severed his own arm in order to escape.

The press has formed a consensus that this could be another hit for director Boyle. Franco, the clear highlight of the film, has proven, through a series of critically acclaimed hits, that he has talent to carry the movie, despite the lesser stars attached.

Final Verdict: An Oscar nomination is very likely for this picture, especially for either Best Actor and Best Director. The trailer provides enough interesting material to attract an audience even though the premise is simple. 127 Hours’ only competition for its opening weekend would be the Robert Downey Jr. comedy Due Date, but I have faith that Danny Boyle utilized his skills effectively to turn 127 Hours into a serious Oscar contender.

3. Black Swan—

Premiere: December 1 (limited release)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Kassel

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Response: WARNING! Before you read this response, you must watch the trailer at IMDB.com. After you watch it and you ask yourself, “What the #%@! did I just watch?” don’t worry; this is a normal reaction. This film looks extremely bizarre. The story is understandable, but there are so many seemingly random elements incorporated into the film.

Black Swan’s main attraction will be the alleged risqué scenes Natalie Portman performs within the film. Portman usually plays a wholesome character in her films, but based on the small bit of material shown in the trailer, this should be quite a challenging role for her. Mila Kunis’s part is very simple to comprehend, but it seems like her portrayal will be one-note. The most puzzling aspect of the movie isthe psychological illustrations (you need to watch this trailer to understand). Aronofsky is trying something new, but I feel seeing the movie would help the audience enjoy or view it better since the trailer does no justice.

Final verdict: Based on the trailer and the small bit of word of mouth, Black Swan could either be a sleeper hit or one of the worst movies of the year. The factors that impede its possible success is the limited release. It faces no real competition that weekend, but it needs to generate a lot more buzz than the output from Toronto has provided. Aronofsky’s only notable film has been The Wrestler which was a more grounded story than Black Swan appears to be. There really is not much to go on in order to gauge the possible success for an Oscar nomination.

The TIFF had a slew of other films that are being predicated as serious Oscar contenders, but I chose these three since they don’t really play into the typical award-winning film mold. The only way to properly gauge their success is to see if my predictions come true and how opening weekend, critics and box office numbers factor in the mix. Despite these unknowns, this year’s Toronto International Film Festival has proven  again to be the premiere film event.

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