Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Oscar hopefuls vie for attention at TIFF - CTV News

Published Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012 10:28AM EDT

It’s showtime in Toronto, as the curtain raises at last on Thursday on the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

For the next 11 days, one of the most influential festivals in the world will showcase Hollywood heavy-hitters, as well as a wide and varied slate of films from 72 countries around the world.

Topping that list is Tom Hank’s futuristic saga, “Cloud Atlas,” the Weinstein Company’s period drama “The Master” -- a tale said to be inspired by Scientology, and Ben Affleck’s political thriller, “Argo.”

Based on real-life events, “Argo” tells the tale of six American diplomats who sought refuge at the Tehran residence of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor during 1979’s Iran hostage crisis.

“It’s one of those movies where you know how it’s going to end. But you can’t stop watching,” film critic Richard Crouse said on Thursday on CTV’s Canada AM.

Affleck’s powers as a director move to a whole new level with this film, according to Deadline Hollywood movie critic Pete Hammond.

“Ben’s directed other films, but this is his breakout movie,” said Hammond.

“It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s sure to be nominated next year for an Oscar,” he said.

Joe Wright’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel, “Anna Karenina,” is another TIFF entry that seems destined to become an Oscar contender, according to Crouse.

The film stars Keira Knightley, who turns in a sterling performance as the doomed 19th century Russian beauty, Anna.

“‘Anna Karenina’ is the single most beautiful movie that I have seen this year,” said Crouse.  

“The cinematography on this lavish period piece is incredible. It will be Oscar bait next year,” he said.

The sci-fi flick “Looper,” this year’s opening night gala film, is another favourite for Crouse, as is the horror flick “Antiviral.”

The film marks the directorial debut of Brandon Cronenberg -- the son of Canadian film icon, David Cronenberg -- and tells the tale about a company that harvests diseases from celebrities to inject them into paying clients.

Other tops picks include the lush entry, “Midnight’s Children,” from Canadian director Deepa Mehta.

Based on Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel of the same name, the film tells the story of several individuals who are born with extraordinary powers at the time when India became an independent country.

“This is a sprawling, beautiful epic and one that Mehta really pulls off,” Crouse said.

“Stories We Tell,” the latest work from Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley, is another pick that should garner favourable interest from critics, according to Crouse.

“This is a very different film for Polley,” said Crouse.

Done as a documentary -- something new for the filmmaker -- Polley looks at the power of family in this filmy and digs into several relationships to explore the idea reconciliation with one’s past.

“It’s strong and well-done,’ said Crouse.

Finally, “The Impossible,” starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, could prove to be the biggest tear-jerker of TIFF 2012.

The story is based on one family’s experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

“This is an emotional story and the acting is super,” he said, with Crouse adding this final bit of advice.

“Bring a towel to see this movie. You’ll be crying like a child,” he said.

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