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Winners at the Toronto Film Festival

The Toronto Film Festival is over and the winners are:

People’s Choice Award
Bella directed by Alejandro Monteverde

Fipresci Critics Prize
Death of a President directed by Gabriel Range

Discovery Award
Reprise directed by Joachim Trier

Visions Swarovski Cultural Innovation Award
Takva – A Man’s Fear of God directed by Ozer Kiziltan

Best Canadian First Feature Award
Sur la trace d’Igor Rizzi (“On the Trail of Igor Rizzi”) directed by Noel Mitrani

Toronto City Award for Best Canadian Film
Manufactured Landscapes directed by Jennifer Baichwal

Short Cuts Canada Award
Les Jours (“The Days”) directed by Maxime Giroux

Some Oscar hopefuls appear to have gone the way of The Human Stain and Elizabethtown. Reuters reports on the high profile misfires this year:

Critics and film buffs at the festival, which ended on Saturday, took special aim at Steven Zaillian’s “All the King’s Men,” starring Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet. Several major reviewers declared their disappointment in the most controversial film at the festival, “Death of a President,” a fictional documentary about the assassination of President George W. Bush.

But international critics at the festival did give the film an award, citing its audacity.”The last few years at the festival, we saw massive bombs like ‘Elizabethtown’ and ‘The Human Stain,’ movies that came in with glowing expectations and just bombed,” said Tom O’Neil, show business awards columnist for The Envelope.com.

“But ‘All the King’s Men’ was nuclear, because it dared to remake an Oscar best picture winner of 1949 and it had a galaxy of superstars performing very badly,” he added. Penn plays Willie Stark, an idealistic politician who rises from the poverty of the Great Depression to become governor of Louisiana, but then gives in to corruption. Todd McCarthy, a critic for Daily Variety, called the film “overstuffed and fatally miscast,” and said in a review the movie “never comes to life.”

Other disappointments included Christopher N. Rowley’s “Bonneville,” starring Kathy Bates, Joan Allen and¬†Jessica Lange in a road-trip flick. “It had huge expectations, but massive disappointment. It looked like a made-for-Lifetime TV movie,” said O’Neil. Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes, proved to be a letdown in Toronto, with members of the audience walking out of the screening.

Ridley Scott’s “A Good Year” which stars Russell Crowe in a feel-good movie, also fell short of expectations. Crowe plays a cocky financier who inherits a vineyard estate in France. Initially he plans to sell it but then falls in love with it. “It wasn’t panned, but it wasn’t beloved. People enjoyed watching it, but it just didn’t live up to the greatness you expect from a Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe combo,” said O’Neil.

Anne Thompson in her Toronto wrap at Risky Biz Blog thinks that the highlight was Borat:

Borat killed. Nothing else came close.

Catch a Fire, Venus, Last King of Scotland, Little Children, Babel, Volver, and The Lives Of Others continued on track for Oscars. Pan’s Labyrinth was another fave here, and could be a Mexican entry.

Marc Forster’s Stranger than Fiction could get into the race if the critics like it enough—I heard some mixed response. It’s fabulously written and acted and very funny and even suspenseful. Will Ferrell is well cast as the schlumpy dull accountant who falls for earthy baker Maggie Gyllenhaal, who along with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman could win a supporting nom.

It’s hard to say what will happen with For Your Consideration, Infamous, Breaking and Entering, Bobby; all were met with mixed responses. For Your Consideration seemed to me like another trip to a tired old well; Infamous is stuck with being the second film about Truman Capote but should be seen; Breaking and Entering is Anthony Minghella all over: it’s well made and smart and the actors are good but it leaves you outside somehow, looking in. I’m wondering why I have such ambivalent feelings about Jude Law. Due to a deadline, I missed my Bobby screening last night.

Among the new films, The Fountain, All the King’s Men and A Good Year all disappointed. All the King’s Men I have yet to see, but the press and industry people wondered what movie Steve Zaillian really wanted to make. If it had been good it would have come out last year, basically.

I don’t think Borat has any chance of Oscars but it is hilarious. I saw it this week and my laughter was heightened by a couple of audience members not finding anything amusing about it whatsoever.

> Official site of the Toronto Film Festival
> Cinematical’s coverage of the festival
> BBC News on Bella’s win at Toronto

By Ambrose Heron

Editor of FILMdetail