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21 HRS

Shekhar Kapur Will Chair 2014 Capri, Hollywood International Film Fest

Shekhar Kapur Will Chair 2014 Capri, Hollywood International Film Fest

Shekhar Kapur, the Indian filmmaker best known internationally for his two collaborations with Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), will serve as chairman of the 19th Capri, Hollywood — The International Film Festival, the Gulf of Naples-based fest said Monday. This year's edition will run from Dec. 26, 2014, through Jan. 2, 2015.

Advertised as "a bridge between Italian and American cinema," the event occurs two months before its stateside counterpart, Los Angeles, Italia, which occurs the week of the Academy Awards. Since it honors talent at both locations, it has become a noted stop on the Oscar season circuit.

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2 DAYS

Feinberg Forecast: The Awards Landscape After Telluride and Toronto, Before New York

Feinberg Forecast: The Awards Landscape After Telluride and Toronto, Before New York

Every week through the 87th Oscars on Feb. 22, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter's lead awards analyst Scott Feinberg will post an updated "Feinberg Forecast," wherein he presents a summary of major developments since the last update that helped to shape his current opinions and then lists his revised projections. For more about Feinberg and how he arrives at his projections, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Factoring into this week's charts...

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Toronto: 'Imitation Game' Audience Award Win Puts Weinsteins Back in Oscar Season Pole Position

Toronto: 'Imitation Game' Audience Award Win Puts Weinsteins Back in Oscar Season Pole Position

With Sunday afternoon's announcement that The Weinstein Co.'s The Imitation Game has won the Toronto Film Festival's people's choice award, we now have, for the first time this season, a real frontrunner for the best picture Oscar.

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4 DAYS

Toronto: Benicio Del Toro Could Catch Voters' Attention for 'Escobar: Paradise Lost'

Toronto: Benicio Del Toro Could Catch Voters' Attention for 'Escobar: Paradise Lost'

In Escobar: Paradise Lost, an intense drama that marks the directorial debut of the Italian actor Andrea Di Stefano, The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson portrays Nick, the character with the most screen time, a young Canadian who meets and marries Maria (Claudia Traisac, now Hutcherson's real-life girlfriend), a young girl in Colombia, where Nick had gone to surf and live with his brother.

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4 DAYS

Toronto: 'Food, Inc.' Doc Maker Back in Oscar Contention for 'Merchants of Doubt'

Toronto: 'Food, Inc.' Doc Maker Back in Oscar Contention for 'Merchants of Doubt'

Over his decades in the television and film documentary business, filmmaker Robert Kenner has established himself as a Michael Lewis-like figure, pointing his lens at subjects with which most of us feel we are already familiar, but then showing us that we're not by asking them questions we wouldn't have thought to ask ourselves.

Kenner did this most prominently in his 2009 Oscar-nominated doc Food, Inc., which looks at the shocking shortcuts that multinational corporations take with our food and the impact this has on our health. And he has done it again in his latest doc, Merchants of Doubt, which Sony Classics is currently taking on the fall fest circuit: it premiered at Telluride, played at Toronto (where I caught up with it on Wednesday) and will next be seen in New York.

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Toronto: 'Act of Killing' Follow-Up 'Look of Silence' Could Also Resonate with Academy

Toronto: 'Act of Killing' Follow-Up 'Look of Silence' Could Also Resonate with Academy

Only one filmmaker has ever been nominated for the best documentary feature Oscar in back-to-back years. His name was Walt Disney and he was nominated — and ultimately won — for both The Living Desert (1953) and The Vanishing Prairie (1954). In those days, an organization (i.e. the U.S. Air Force) or its figurehead (i.e. Disney's Disney) were often recognized for projects that were actually primarily completed by others who worked for them. That was certainly the case with these nature films.

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5 DAYS

Toronto: Belgium's Oscar Hopes May Rest on Film Starring France's Marion Cotillard

Toronto: Belgium's Oscar Hopes May Rest on Film Starring France's Marion Cotillard

Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, Belgian brothers who have been making films together since the 1970s, are, to me, the successors of Vittorio de Sica, the father of neorealist cinema, whose films were, as theirs always are, low-budget, minimalist dramas about the struggles of working-class people just to get by.

Over the past 15 years, three of the Dardennes' films — Rosetta (1999), The Son (2002) and The Child (2005) — have been submitted by Belgium as the nation's official entry for consideration in the best foreign language film Oscar category. However, despite the fact that each was widely acclaimed and the first and third won Cannes' Palme d'Or (they remain the only Belgian films ever accorded that honor), none were even nominated by the Academy.

On Sept. 19, Belgium can do its part to correct this injustice by submitting as their 2014 entry the Dardennes' latest film, Two Days, One Night, which many expected to win this year's Palme or another major prize at Cannes, where it premiered to great acclaim back in May, but which was instead shut out. Then it would be up to the Academy's foreign language committee to get its act together.

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Toronto: Fest Fan Favorite 'Wild Tales' Could Take Argentina Back to Oscars

Toronto: Fest Fan Favorite 'Wild Tales' Could Take Argentina Back to Oscars

Sometimes a film can "go viral." Such was the case with Wild Tales, an Argentinean comedy written and directed by Damian Szifron that had its world premiere in Cannes back in May, about which I knew absolutely nothing when the Oscar season kicked off just two weeks ago, but which quickly became the talk of Telluride and Toronto, prompting me to finally catch up with it on Tuesday night at the latter fest. Suffice it to say: the hype was merited.

The film -- which Sony Pictures Classics is giving an awards-qualifying run this year before releasing next spring -- is comprised of six shorts, none of which are related, apart from sharing themes of vengeance and tones of anarchism, but all of which feature laugh-out-loud moments and most of which closed to applause at the screening I attended.

Considering that each of them is better than many of the shorts that have been awarded Oscars during the time I've been on this beat, it should not come as a surprise that, collectively, they form a feature that will be a serious contender, in its own right.

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Toronto: Why Julianne Moore Could Win the Best Actress Oscar for 'Still Alice'

Toronto: Why Julianne Moore Could Win the Best Actress Oscar for 'Still Alice'

Everyone's talking about it: This year's two female acting categories are, at this admittedly early date, looking extremely thin. In the lead actress category, of what has already been screened, the one and only slam-dunk contender is Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Of what is still to come, Meryl Streep (Into the Woods) could get in, Amy Adams (Big Eyes) is always a possibility and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) has a plum part — but really, who knows?

This possible opening has been recognized by the teams behind the two most serious best supporting actress contenders, Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) and Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), both of which are now weighing whether or not it makes sense to give up a relatively sure-fire nom and possible win in the less prestigious of the two acting categories in order to vie for a nom in the other one. (Rounding out the field of potential supporting actress candidates is Keira Knightley for her turn in The Imitation Game.)

I mention all of this because it is in this larger context that Julianne Moore's magnificent performance in Still Alice, an acquisition title that I saw today at its second screening at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival, just landed.

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1 week

Toronto: 'The Last 5 Years' Offers Golden Globe Voters a Quality Musical Option

Toronto: 'The Last 5 Years' Offers Golden Globe Voters a Quality Musical Option

Exactly three months ago, I sat in the audience at the Tonys as Jason Robert Brown collected best original score and best orchestrations prizes for his musical adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County, which starred a fantastic Kelli O'Hara but had recently closed after struggling at the box office and being denied a best musical nomination. It was, as Brown conveyed from the podium, a very bittersweet night for him.

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Toronto: Eddie Redmayne Leaps to Head of Oscar Pack for 'Theory of Everything'

Toronto: Eddie Redmayne Leaps to Head of Oscar Pack for 'Theory of Everything'

The trailer for Focus Features' The Theory of Everything, a film about the early life of Stephen Hawking, was one of the best in recent memory, and it set a very high bar for the James Marsh-directed film itself to live up to. But, having now seen the complete product at its Toronto Film Festival world premiere on Sunday evening, I can submit to you this much: Thanks to a landmark performance by Eddie Redmayne and standout supporting work by Felicity Jones, as well as great production quality all around, it meets that bar — and then some.

The warm ovation that greeted the heartbreaking but inspirational drama — which was adapted by Anthony McCarten from the autobiography of Jane Hawking, Stephen's college sweetheart turned wife, and directed by Marsh, who previously has directed only one other narrative feature but won the best documentary Oscar for his massively acclaimed film Man on Wire (2008) — support that position. And the prolonged standing ovation that greeted its stars after the end credits support another; namely, that Redmayne will be tough to beat in the best actor race and Jones will have a strong shot of her own in the lead or supporting actress race. (Her placement is still being debated but I'm told Focus is leaning toward the latter.)

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1 week

Toronto: Hilarious 'While We're Young' Script Could Earn Noah Baumbach Another Nom

Toronto: Hilarious 'While We're Young' Script Could Earn Noah Baumbach Another Nom

Noah Baumbach's While We're Young, one of the most enjoyable films that I've seen in a long time — and one of the first two products of Barry Diller and Scott Rudin's new production company IAC Films (the other being Chris Rock's comedy Top Five, which is also playing at TIFF) — had its world premiere on Saturday night and played again on Sunday afternoon at the Toronto International Film Festival, after which it was greeted with considerable applause and, I'm told by reliable sources, multiple bids for its U.S. distribution rights, which remain unresolved as of this writing.

The film, a laugh-out-loud dramedy grown adults about the meaning of "adulthood" in the 21st century, feels to me like the best Woody Allen movie that Woody Allen didn't direct — and one that will stand a strong shot at landing a nom in the Oscar category in which Allen has been nominated more often than anyone else in history, best original screenplay, if and when someone picks it up. (It feels to me like Fox Searchlight or A24's cup of tea, but we'll see.)

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Toronto: 'Black and White' Could Propel Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer Into Oscar Race

Toronto: 'Black and White' Could Propel Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer Into Oscar Race

One of the best movies that has already screened at the Toronto Film Festival but hasn't yet found a U.S. distributor is Mike Binder's Black and White. The drama, which was inspired by a true story, stars Oscar winners Kevin Costner (also a producer) and Octavia Spencer as a grandfather and grandmother on opposite sides of a dispute over the custody of a mixed-race child (the excellent 10-year-old newcomer Jillian Estell) to whom they both lay claim. Following its world premiere at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday, it received a lengthy standing ovation, and it's hard to imagine that it will remain on the market — or outside of the 2014 Oscar discussion — for much longer.

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Toronto: Reitman's Back in Form — and Awards Contention — With 'Men, Women & Children'

Toronto: Reitman's Back in Form — and Awards Contention — With 'Men, Women & Children'

The Canadian writer-director Jason Reitman's career exploded with his first three feature films, Thank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007) and Up in the Air (2009), the latter two of which received best picture Oscar nominations and garnered him best director noms, as well. (He was also nominated for co-adapting Up in the Air's screenplay) The two films with which he followed those, however, Young Adult (2011) and Labor Day (2013), proved much more divisive, and led some to wonder if the filmmaker had lost his way.

Now, though, with his sixth feature — Men, Women & Childen, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival's Ryerson Theatre at 6pm on Saturday, just like all of his others except Young Adult, which skipped the festival circuit — I am pleased to report that Reitman has recaptured the formula that endeared him to critics, audiences and the Academy in the first place: employing a big and talented ensemble to smartly and dryly satirize the world in which we live.

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