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Author: Dave Karger (1-10 of 506)

Toronto Oscar Watch: 'Silver Linings Playbook,' 'The Sessions' and more

The last 48 hours of the Toronto International Film Festival produced another full crop of potential awards-baiting films. Here’s what has Oscar watchers buzzing up here.

Silver Linings Playbook Along with Argo, David O. Russell’s family study is the one film that’s attracted the most Oscar buzz so far. Uproariously funny and surprisingly moving as well, this is a character piece that hits all the right notes and should be a home run with the Academy. I could easily see nominations for Best Picture, actor (Bradley Cooper), actress (Jennifer Lawrence), and supporting actor (Robert De Niro) along with dual citations for Russell for writing and directing.

The Sessions After its successful Sundance debut (where it was called The Surrogate), John Hawkes and Helen Hunt’s sexually frank drama played here to wonderful response. Hawkes (in the lead category) and Hunt (in supporting) seem like sure bets for nominations, and their strong buzz could even help the film become a Best Picture contender. READ FULL STORY

Oscar Watch: Toronto Film Festival so far

The Toronto International Film Festival is barely 48 hours old and already several awards-baiting films have premiered. Here’s a rundown of the possible Oscar chances of the entries that have already unspooled.

Argo Ben Affleck’s third directorial effort, a nail-biting hostage drama, seems to be the consensus choice for the most awards-friendly film of the festival so far. It’s exciting, well-paced, features an impressive cast, and, best of all, it’s a true story. I could see nominations for Best Picture, director, screenplay, editing, and supporting actor for scene-stealing costars Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston. READ FULL STORY

Ben Affleck, Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and more: EW's Toronto Film Festival Must List

This Thursday marks the beginning of the Toronto International Film Festival, widely considered (along with the just-completed Telluride and currently running Venice fests) the kickoff to the Oscar race. Keep an eye out for the following filmmakers and actors whose movies are playing there. I expect all of them to make a splash at Toronto—and throughout the entire awards season.

Ben Affleck, director, Argo Directing his third feature—and his first outside his hometown of Boston—Affleck juggles a mammoth cast (including Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin) and brings maximum tension to a true story of international political intrigue. Bonus points for deftly handling the film’s leading role as well.

Naomi Watts, actress, and Ewan McGregor, supporting actor, The Impossible  Playing a vacationing couple whose family (pictured above) is torn apart by the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, Watts and McGregor don’t share many scenes. But they build a strong connection that permeates the screen even when they’re separated by the aftermath of a shocking natural disaster.

Stephen Chbosky, screenwriter, The Perks of Being A Wallflower Adapting his own hit young-adult book, the novelist-turned-filmmaker has made a bittersweet high school drama (featuring Emma Watson and Paul Rudd) that insightfully explores issues of community and sexuality. It could very well end up becoming this generation’s The Breakfast Club.

John Hawkes, actor, and Helen Hunt, supporting actress, The Sessions As a 38-year-old polio survivor and the professional sex surrogate who provides his sensual awakening, Hawkes (an Oscar nominee for 2010’s Winter’s Bone) and Hunt (who won Best Actress for 1997’s As Good as It Gets) turn in career-best performances that are affecting and gutsy.

I’ll be reporting on all the buzzed-about Toronto films from Sept. 6-12. Check back here or follow me on Twitter: @davekarger 

Toronto Film Festival: 10 films with Oscar dreams

As it has been for most of the last dozen or years, the Toronto International Film Festival was a major Academy Awards feeder last year: Three of the nine eventual Best Picture nominees (The Artist, The Descendants, and Moneyball) played there, while Beginners, which won Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer, premiered at the festival in 2010. Now that much of this year’s lineup has been announced, here are the 10 movies I’ll have my eye on when I head up north in September.

Anna Karenina
The first two times Joe Wright and Keira Knightley collaborated, it resulted in a nomination for either Best Picture (Atonement) or Best Actress (Pride and Prejudice). Adapting Tolstoy’s classic novel with the help of Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard seems Academy-friendly to the max.

Argo
Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort is a true story of international terrorism, cooperation, and heroism. Early buzz surrounds Alan Arkin’s scene-stealing turn as a hot-headed movie producer who mounts a fake sci-fi flick in order to rescue six hostages from Iran. READ FULL STORY

Tired of superheroes and aliens? Our alternative summer movie preview

When you think about the summer movie season, you think of sequels, prequels, and bloated budgets. Granted, some of this season’s blockbusters — like Prometheus and The Avengers — were pretty good. But if you’re sick of superheroes and don’t want to check your brain at the multiplex door, here are five summer films to look out for.

In theaters now is Your Sister’s Sister, an insightful and often adorable indie comedy about three thirtysomethings (Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, and Rosemarie DeWitt) who become personally entangled during a short stay at a Pacific Northwest cottage. See it before your friends tell you all the surprising plot twists. READ FULL STORY

Missing 'Terminator 3' star Nick Stahl is alive, in rehab

Actor Nick Stahl, who had been missing for over a week, has written an email to friends saying he’s entering rehab, People.com is reporting. Stahl, 32, wrote friends to say that he would be out of touch for 30 days while he sought treatment. Stahl’s estranged wife, Rose, who had reported him missing, was apparently not included on the email. Stahl has been acting for over 20 years, with credits including The Man Without A Face, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and HBO’s Carnivale.

'Rock of Ages': Why Tom Cruise decided to let it all hang out

We’re now less than a month away from the release of Rock of Ages, the big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical about rockers and wannabes on the Sunset Strip in 1987. The cast is impressive—Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, and Mary J. Blige all show up. But the one person you’ll be talking about when you see the movie is Tom Cruise, who as hair-metal superstar Stacee Jaxx not only belts out “Pour Some Sugar On Me” but also appears in perhaps the skimpiest outfits of his career. “I wasn’t going to ask him to go as far as he went,” says director Adam Shankman (Hairspray). “Tom is incredibly creative but he’s very literal. I put an enormous amount of research material in front of him about these hair bands. We had these pictures of the guy from W.A.S.P. in a codpiece with sparks coming out of it. And it just made Tom laugh. Rita Ryack, our costume designer, came to me and said, ‘Okay, he wants to do the assless chaps.’ I said, ‘Are we putting anything under them, like underwear?’ And she goes, ‘No, I think he’s fine with it just being what it is.’ I was like, ‘Okay, this is awesome.'”

But once on set, Shankman had to explain to his almost 50-year-old star that certain camera angles would get a little up close and personal. “I said to Tom, ‘You do know in the reverse that I will see your ass, right?'” Shankman recalls. “He said, ‘Well, is there any way to shoot around it?’ And I said ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, let’s shoot it.’ Then he turned to me and goes, ‘Wait, how is it?’ And I said, ‘Fantastic!’ At an age when people are starting to play junior senators, he’s in a assless chaps.” And we’ll all never forget it.

'The Hunger Games': Can Jennifer Lawrence score a second Oscar nomination?

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After starring in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara managed to land a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance in the violent film adaptation of a cult-smash novel. Can Jennifer Lawrence do the same with The Hunger Games? At this point we have no real idea of what her potential competition could be, but I’d say it’s not out of the question. After all, Lawrence has already caught the Academy’s eye thanks to her breakout turn in the 2010 Sundance hit Winter’s Bone. And The Hunger Games has become an instant hit with both audiences and critics. In her review of Hunger Games, my colleague Lisa Schwarzbaum said that Lawrence “is, in her gravity, her intensity, and her own unmannered beauty, about as impressive a Hollywood incarnation of Katniss as one could ever imagine… Lawrence is expressive in her stillness, and moves with athletic confidence.”

The main question is whether Lawrence’s buzz can last all the way through early next year. READ FULL STORY

Oscar winners: Surprises and sure things

We at EW managed a decent 18 for 24 in our Oscar predictions this year. But since I’m a glutton for punishment, instead of focusing on the categories we predicted correctly (including all three short-film prizes!), let’s look at the six we got wrong…and why.

Best Cinematography I thought The Tree of Life would take home this trophy for its stunningly gorgeous photography, with The Artist as a possible spoiler. Hugo was my third choice, and it won. Clearly overall support for the film helped Robert Richardson’s case, although the film does feature dazzling camerawork, particularly in the opening sequence.

Best Editing Thinking this prize would be part of an overall sweep, I predicted The Artist for the win. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was my third choice; though it’s the most dizzyingly cut film of the five, I thought it would prove too dark for the Academy. READ FULL STORY

Oscars scoop: Watch me interview all the winners...first!

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Chris Matthews has Election Day. Rich Eisen has the Super Bowl. And a movie dork like me has Oscar Sunday. I’m excited to be returning as the Academy’s official red-carpet greeter this year; you’ll be able to see me introduce and welcome all the nominees and presenters (like that pretty lady to the left) here on EW.com as well as on Oscar.com starting at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific on Sunday.

And as the Academy has just announced, once the ceremony starts, I’ll be stationed backstage for Oscar.com where I’ll be the first person to interview all the winners as soon as they finish their speeches. The Oscar.com “Backstage Pass” show will be hosted by the always unpredictable Sherri Shepherd and the ridiculously charming Cameron Mathison; they’ll toss to me throughout the evening for all the scoop on what’s happening behind the scenes.

In the meantime, check out my 10-part Oscar.com series, “Nominated,” which looks at all the Best Picture nominees and gives you tips on how to win your Oscar pool. See you all Sunday!

Dave on Twitter: @davekarger

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