Oscars 2013: EW's no-nonsense Prize Fighter analysis of early contenders '12 Years a Slave,' 'Gravity,' more ...

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The relentless rivalry of two athletes forces them to exceed their individual abilities.

We’ve certainly heard this before – Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova. Those are among some of the most celebrated competitors in sports history, and with this story of Formula 1 racing we can add two more to the list.

James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda.

Chris Hemsworth stars as the handsome, charismatic Hunt, while Daniel Brühl plays the calculating, abrasive Lauda, and their mutual hatred added a little extra fuel to their races in the 1970s. Although non-sports fans may feel underwhelmed by the stakes, many Academy and Golden Globe voters came out of this Toronto premiere revving their own engines over director Ron Howard’s true-life drama.

Brühl plays the squirrellier half of the duo, but steals almost every scene as the more combative, colorful character. Best Picture and Best Director honors will depend on voters maintaining their high enthusiasm for the movie, but Brühl’s exceptionally memorable turn should assure him one of the Supporting Actor slots. Screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) is known for this type of docudrama, and could also find himself in the race.

As for Toronto, this is just the first lap. There will be plenty of twists and turns for all the competitors before Oscar voting closes.

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