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7
1 week

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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7
1 week

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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6
1 week

Toronto: Bill Murray Guns for Another Shot at Oscar with 'St. Vincent'

Toronto: Bill Murray Guns for Another Shot at Oscar with 'St. Vincent'

In 2004, Bill Murray won the best actor in a musical or comedy Golden Globe and almost won the best actor Oscar for his work in Lost in Translation; for the latter, he came up short in a hotly contested race, to Mystic River's Sean Penn. Now, a decade later, Murray could be back in the running for that same Golden Globe, if not that same Oscar, for his finest work since: his indelible portrayal of a grumpy old man who bonds with his young new neighbor in Ted Melfi's St. Vincent, a dramedy that The Weinstein Co. is distributing.

The film was very well received at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday (which the fest declared "Bill Murray Day") and at its encore special presentation screening on Saturday (which a festivalgoer astutely suggested calling "Groundhog Dog").

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6
1 week

Toronto: Can the Acclaimed Genre Film 'Nightcrawler' Crack Into Oscar Race?

Toronto: Can the Acclaimed Genre Film 'Nightcrawler' Crack Into Oscar Race?

Open Road Films' Nightcrawler may or may not turn out to be "an awards movie" — "genre films" rarely do — but it is destined to become a classic and was received accordingly, with a loud and partial standing ovation after its world premiere on Friday night at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the Toronto Film Festival.

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5
2 WKS

Toronto: Al Pacino Is Back in 'The Humbling'

Toronto: Al Pacino Is Back in 'The Humbling'

Among the actors who have multiple films playing at this year's Toronto International Film Festival are Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Watts – and a young up-and-comer by the name of Al Pacino.

Pacino, of course, is actually as much of a veteran as anyone at the fest, and yet, as he nears his 75th birthday in the spring, he is still working regularly. Of his 2014 TIFF entries, I haven't yet seen David Gordon Green's Manglehorn. But, on Friday, I saw Barry Levinson's The Humbling, which Millennium Entertainment will be distributing, and I am pleased to report that it features some of the best work that Levinson or Pacino have done in years — certainly their best since their prior collaboration, on HBO's 2010 Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don't Know Jack.

If someone picks up the low-budget dramedy, which features numerous laugh-out-loud moments — it was adapted by the great Buck Henry (The Graduate), who is now 83, and Michael Zebede, from Philip Roth's 2009 novel of the same name — there's a chance that strong word-of-mouth could propel it to a decent showing at the box-office and Pacino and his always-solid costar Greta Gerwig to Independent Spirit Award noms and the like.

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4
2 WKS

Toronto: 'The Judge' Opens Fest, Now Awaits Academy's Verdict

Toronto: 'The Judge' Opens Fest, Now Awaits Academy's Verdict

The 39th Toronto Film Festival got underway Thursday night with the world premiere of Warner Bros.' The Judge at Roy Thomson Hall. David Dobkin's drama stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall as a son and father who have never really gotten along, but who begin to bond when the son, a hotshot lawyer, begins representing the father, who is facing murder charges for allegedly killing a man with his car and then fleeing the scene. The film, which will be released nationwide on Oct. 10, received a warm ovation that became a standing ovation when a spotlight was shined on the film's principal talent among whom are also Vera Farmiga and Vincent D'Onofrio as the credits rolled.

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4
2 WKS

Toronto: Oscar Contenders, Start Your Engines!

Toronto: Oscar Contenders, Start Your Engines!

The 2014 Toronto Film Festival kicks off Thursday night with the world premiere of Warner Bros.' The Judge, a legal thriller directed by David Dobkin and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.

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4
2 WKS

Jon Stewart on Embracing the Film Festival Circuit, Finding Humor in Drama

Jon Stewart on Embracing the Film Festival Circuit, Finding Humor in Drama

Over the past 15 years, through his hilarious and even-handed nightly presentation of current events on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, comedian Jon Stewart has become, against all odds, the Walter Cronkite of his generation: the most trusted man in news.

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3
2 WKS

Telluride Postmortem: Some Contenders Climbed Higher, Others Lost Oxygen in Rockies

Telluride Postmortem: Some Contenders Climbed Higher, Others Lost Oxygen in Rockies

The 41st Telluride Film Festival came to an end on Monday evening. Now that I've had some time to think about what I saw there (and resume breathing normally again), I thought that it might be valuable to report on how some of the highest-profile films and people went over at the fest. This analysis factors in my own take on many of the films; impressions communicated to me by my THR colleagues Todd McCarthy, Stephen Galloway and Tim Appelo; and chatter that I heard from a wide cross-section of knowledgeable industry folks with whom I spoke during my four days in the Rockies.

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2
2 WKS

Future of Film: VFX Legend Douglas Trumbull's Plan to Save the Movies

Future of Film: VFX Legend Douglas Trumbull's Plan to Save the Movies

A version of this story appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

On a sunny August day in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Douglas Trumbull, the 72-year-old visual effects legend, welcomes me to Little Brook Farm, the sprawling 50-acre property on which he lives and works with his wife of 13 years, Julia Trumbull, as well as an assortment of free-range donkeys, goats, chickens, roosters, cats and dogs. In addition to their home and animals, the compound also houses Trumbull Studios, a 10-building, state-of-the-art filmmaking facility that was financed with his proceeds from the IPO of IMAX Corp., where he once worked. "We're not a movie lab in the sense that we process chemicals," says Trumbull of the operation. "We're a movie lab in the sense that we're looking for the future of movies."

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2 WKS

Telluride: 'The 50 Year Argument' Continues in the Rockies

Telluride: 'The 50 Year Argument' Continues in the Rockies

One of the great things about the Telluride Film Festival is the emphasis it places on documentary films, which annually account for a large chunk of its small slate. Perhaps this is because the great documentarians Ken Burns, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are among the fest's greatest champions — or perhaps not. Regardless, it has been a great pleasure of mine, over the four years that I have attended the fest, to catch as many of these docs as possible.

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2 WKS

Telluride: 'Red Army' Joins 'Keep on Keepin' On' at Top of Heap of Best Doc Oscar Contenders

Telluride: 'Red Army' Joins 'Keep on Keepin' On' at Top of Heap of Best Doc Oscar Contenders

The last film that I saw at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival was also the best film that I saw at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival, and, indeed, one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen: Gabe Polsky's Red Army, which landed in the Rockies after premiering at Cannes back in May. It received many reactions like my own at both venues and, with the enthusiastic backing of Sony Pictures Classics, which will release it later this fall, it has to be considered a co-frontrunner for the best documentary feature Oscar (along with fellow Telluride selection Keep on Keepin' On).

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2 WKS

Telluride: Hilary Swank Angles for Another Shot at Oscar With 'The Homesman'

Telluride: Hilary Swank Angles for Another Shot at Oscar With 'The Homesman'

Hilary Swank already has two best actress Oscars on her shelf, for Boys Don't Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), which is something that only 12 other women have ever been able to claim. But, having only just turned 40, she is not resting on her laurels. Since her second win, in 2005, she has pursued a number of projects that were clearly intended to be awards bait -- and in which she was great -- but that failed to resonate with voters: The Black Dahlia (2006), Freedom Writers (2007), Amelia (2009) and Conviction (2010).

Now, however, she is starring in a film that in no way adheres to the traditional Oscar-baiting formula, Tommy Lee Jones' western The Homesman — and she may have her best shot yet at landing her third nomination.

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2 WKS

Telluride: 'Foxcatcher' Lands Stateside, Trio of Actors Strongly Embraced

Telluride: 'Foxcatcher' Lands Stateside, Trio of Actors Strongly Embraced

Bennett Miller's first two feature films, Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011), were both nominated for the best picture Oscar. His third, Foxcatcher, has already garnered him the best director prize at May's Cannes Film Festival. But if Foxcatcher is to follow in the footsteps of Miller's earlier films, it will have to resonate stateside, too, which is why so much attention was paid to its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on Saturday morning.

The 134-minute film unspooled before a packed Palm Theatre — the same venue that the world premiere of Capote opened nine years ago — and, upon its conclusion, was met with a very strong ovation. Viewers seemed particularly impressed by the strong performances of the three men at the center of the film — Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo — two of whom (Tatum and Carell) have never been accorded roles of this nature or been as good as they are in this film (Ruffalo is almost always great), and all three of whom received major applause (Carell's being the loudest).

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