The films forming the nucleus of the early awards season narrative are coming to the fore thanks to the 41st Toronto International Film Festival: "La La Land," "Arrival," "Moonlight," "Jackie" and others are making their cases, with the final verdict coming with the Academy Awards next February. Here are early looks, exclusive interviews, videos and photo shoots from our film team.
Ever since his "Lady Macbeth" — a 19th century re-imagining of a Russian novella about an arranged marriage — became one of the conversation pieces at the Toronto International Film Festival, director William Oldroyd has found himself having an unusual conversation.
Filmgoers who've seen his movie and expected (or apparently don't know much about) William Shakespeare have been wondering what happened to Duncan, Banquo and the rest of the gang.
"I know it sounds funny, but I've had people come up and say to me, 'This isn't anything like the play,' " Oldroyd recalled in an interview. "And I have to pause and think about what to say. I mean, it's not an adaptation of the [Shostakovich] opera either. It's not really anything traditional."
James L. Brooks apparently has an eye for debut talent. He has previously produced the first features for Cameron Crowe (1989’s “Say Anything”) and Wes Anderson (1996’s “Bottle Rocket”). Which makes it feel particularly meaningful that Brooks has now produced “The Edge of Seventeen,” the feature debut of writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig.
In the dramatically tinged coming-of-age comedy, high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a social misfit who is constantly combative with her single mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and older brother Darian (Blake Jenner). When her best and only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) begins dating Darian, Nadine goes into a tailspin. As she becomes more erratic and restless, she increasingly turns to a teacher (Woody Harrelson) for advice and leans more on a friendly boy, Erwin (Hayden Szeto), who could become something more.
Brooks, 76, has one of the most storied careers in modern Hollywood. After a successful career as a writer and producer in television (he created both “Mary Tyler Moore” and “Taxi,” among others), he turned to writing and directing movies, including such films as “Terms of Endearment” and “Broadcast News.” He is a three-time Oscar winner and remains an executive producer on “The Simpsons,” which sprung from “The Tracey Ullman Show” (which he also co-created).
"Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins talks about a "weird" Asian horror film that he formed a bond with, and somehow "brought him closer to something inside."
Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight," which played both the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, is impressing audiences and critics alike. The Times' Justin Chang says, "In Jenkins’ hands, the cold, mechanical apparatus of the camera becomes nothing less than a conduit for human empathy."
The director mentions that foreign films were influencial to him on his path to becoming a filmmaker, and singles out a specific film called "301, 302."
“Oh, Lord, we’re going to be crying,” Octavia Spencer said, putting an arm around Taraji P. Henson as the two started talking about their upcoming historical drama “Hidden Figures” at the Toronto International Film Festival.
They weren’t the only ones tearing up in Toronto. You could have filled Lake Ontario with the amount of waterworks coming from the filmmakers, actors and audience members at this year’s festival. And for good reason. The movies playing at Toronto this year featured storytelling that was empathetic, generous and tender.
And if that sounds a bit gooey, consider the words of “Loving” star Joel Edgerton, who, talking about his civil rights drama, told me: “I’m amazed when people talk about how quiet and silent this movie is. I think this movie is as loud as …,” and he went on, using a colorful euphemism for volume. “It’s an accumulative kind of shout that will stick to you.”
Isabelle Huppert has been nominated 15 times for the Césars, France’s national film award. No other actress has been recognized more.
And yet, she has never been nominated for an Oscar.
“It has crossed my mind,” Huppert said over tea at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she, prolific as ever, has three movies playing. “It’s a prestigious recognition. I think at some point it crosses everyone’s minds. But it has never happened.”
A rare technical glitch briefly halted a Toronto press screening of Vikram Gandhi’s “Barry” on Sunday morning, muffling the film’s sound quality and rendering the dialogue mostly inaudible. Order and volume were happily restored in due course, though not until after the audience spent several minutes waiting in the dark — by which point a few viewers, either concerned about making their next screenings or taking advantage of a guilt-free bathroom break, made their way to the exits.
‘Barry’ is the rare biographical drama that, rather than giving us a bland recitation of accomplishments, takes the formation of identity as its very subject.
“Let me know if he gets the girl,” one viewer joked to her screening companion as she departed. For of course, the outcome of the love story in “Barry” is no more in doubt than its title character’s ultimate destiny. Barry, played without a hint of affectation by the Australian actor Devon Terrell, is in fact a young, college-age version of Barack Obama, and “the girl” is Charlotte (Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Witch”), a fictionalized composite of three girlfriends that Obama had at Columbia, according to a post-screening Q&A.
In other words, “Barry,” which made its world premiere in the festival’s Special Presentations section, is the other Obama movie making its way into the spotlight mere months before the real Obama ends his presidency.