Toronto 2011: Day 3 Recap

This morning, after being up for most of the night preparing, I conducted five extensive interviews in three hours, all of which will post ASAP. My subjects: Elizabeth Olsen, the newcomer/best actress hopeful for Martha Marcy May Marlene; Shailene Woodley, the newcomer/best supporting actress hopeful for The Descendants; Jon Hamm, the Mad Men star who is here as a co-producer of/supporting actor in his wife's film Friends with Kids; Adam Scott, the Parks & Recreation funnyman who is one of the leads of Friends with Kids; and Megan Fox, the incredibly beautiful -- even more so than advertised -- actress who plays Scott's girlfriend (as in Adam's, not Feinberg's, unfortunately!) in Friends with Kids.

Then, I swung by the cocktails portion of the annual luncheon hosted by former Hollywood Reporter columnist George Christy, who was gracious enough to invite me this year. The gathering, which always includes an impressive list of Hollywood talent and socialities (predominantly Canadians), this year drew the likes of Norman Jewison, Christopher Plummer, Atom Egoyan, Kathleen Turner, Geoffrey Rush, and Bryce Dallas Howard.

I eventually made my way over to the TIFF Bell Lightbox theater complex, where Barrymore, the one-man film starring Plummer (which we previewed here the other day), was having its world premiere. (The film is still seeking domestic distribution, and a number of potential buyers -- including Focus Features chief James Schamus and Sony Pictures Classics co-chief Michael Barker -- were in attendance.) After the film ended, almost all of the audience stuck around for a lively Q&A with the remarkable 81-year-old that was moderated by his friend and countryman Egoyan.

Afterwards, I had the great honor of being seated next to and chatting extensively with Plummer at a dinner that was held in his honor in an underground private dining room. It turns out that we both live in Connecticut, love tennis (we anxiously looked up today's U.S. Open results on my iPhone and were devastated to learn that Roger Federer, our mutual favorite, had blown a two-set lead and lost), and are sorry that so many young people today don't know about old movies (or anything, for that matter -- he didn't know whether to laugh or cry when he heard that some kids today haven't heard of Casablanca the place, let alone Casablanca the movie). He confirmed to me that, while he is flattered by the great affection that so many people have for The Sound of Music (1965), it is also a source of frustration for him, since he feels that other examples of his illustrious body of work are more deserving of people's awareness and attention but do not tend to receive it. That being said, he felt he could not turn down Oprah Winfrey's invitation to join his castmates on her show for a 45th reunion -- especially since she offered to fly him in on a private plane; he says that, once there, he found her to be absolutely lovely, and feels that she is tremendously deserving of the special Oscar -- namely, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award -- that the Academy recently voted for her to receive later this year. As for his own experience with Oscar, he acknowledged that he was somewhat surprised that he wasn't nominated for his performance as Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999), which many critics and awards groups hailed as one of the year's best, but says it's not a subject to which he devotes much thought. I told him that it is one to which I devote much thought, and that I hope and believe that he will be back at the Academy Awards in February as a nominee for the second time -- his first was as a best supporting actor Oscar nod for The Last Station (2009) -- certainly as a best supporting actor nominee for Beginners (which he described as perhaps his happiest experience on a movie set ever), and perhaps as a best actor nominee, as well, for Barrymore, should it find the distributor that it deserves.

I ended my evening at another dinner, this one held by the aforementioned Barker and his Sony Pictures Classics co-chief Tom Bernard in honor of the 20th anniversary of their company and the remarkable slate of films that they have brought to Toronto this year. The SPC film that is not here but that remains very much of Bernard's mind is Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, the spring release that has achieved remarkable critical and commercial success, and that remains the 2011 film about which the majority of awards voters with whom I have spoken are most passionate about, even as we enter the fall. With Midnight looking like a pretty decent bet to snag a best picture nomination, at least, the studio and its various awards consultants are now focusing much of their efforts on making sure that it is joined at the big show by representatives from a number of other SPC films, as well.

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