For a movie journalist, the Toronto Film Festival isn’t just a cornucopia of cinematic delights. Sometimes, we have to come into the light after a double-feature of Oscar hopefuls, roll up our sleeves, and go to a festival party packed with the same people we just watched on-screen. Our “work” is never done, people.
The first weekend of the festival hosts many of the biggest and best parties, and EW’s Toronto Must List Event at the Windsor Arms Hotel on Saturday afternoon brought together some of our favorite actors and filmmakers. Jason Bateman, who had just sold his directorial debut, Bad Words, to Focus Features, came to celebrate, and shared a moment with his Juno director Jason Reitman, who himself was getting ready to introduce Labor Day to a packed Toronto audience later in the evening. For the record, the biggest star in attendance was NBA all-star Carmelo Anthony, who attended with his wife, La La. (He stands about 6′ 8″.)
But the buzz in every corner of the hall was still 12 Years a Slave. Director Steve McQueen’s epic true-life tale of a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor, pictured above) kidnapped and sold into Southern slavery in 1841, premiered to enthusiastic reviews last week at Telluride, but Friday’s Toronto screening — in front of much of the industry’s media — launched a torrent of rave reviews and commentary that practically declared the Oscar race for Best Picture over before the festival had barely begun. Adam Vary of Buzzfeed expressed what surely some others were thinking immediately after seeing the movie, writing, “Is it over-the-top to say I suspect that director Steve McQueen, star Chiwetel Ejiofor, screenwriter John Ridley, and the movie itself are destined for Oscars, and with due respect to the many fabulous movies that have and will come out this year, no other film can compete? No. It is not. It is that good, and that great.”
So while McQueen and his dynamite cast sipped drinks and accepted warm congratulations, the debate that had subsequently exploded on Twitter continued — not over the sheer greatness of the movie, but over the impact of the unprecedented critical hosannas on the film’s long-term Oscar prospects. READ FULL STORY