TORONTO — Standing ovations for movies playing at the
When a movie prompts festival-goers to clap in unison before the stars hit the stage, as did "12 Years a Slave," that's different. (Of course, it helps when you have the great spiritual "Roll, Jordan, Roll" as a prompt.) And when the cheering began after "12 Years" director Steve McQueen, writer John Ridley and the movie's exemplary cast —
Because the last three Oscar best picture winners —
"I imagine we'll be seeing that kind of response a lot," filmmaker Spike Jonze, in Toronto showing scenes from his relationship comedy "Her," said of the reaction afforded "12 Years," which also took the Toronto festival's audience prize awarded Sunday, the event's final day. "It's the one movie everyone I know is talking about here."
That the talk began in Telluride — as it did for Toronto's other hot-ticket gala, Alfonso Cuarón's harrowing outer-space survival tale, "Gravity" — diminished the festival's awards-season mojo, at least for this year. There were no coming-out parties for (somewhat) under-the-radar entries such as
High-profile gala premieres either landed with a thud ("The Fifth Estate," a "Social Network"-like snapshot of
Among the debuting features, only the "Dallas Buyers Club," a $4-million movie shot in 25 days (after taking 20 years to get off the ground), managed to win something near unanimous acclaim, particularly for actors
"I have to say, Matthew McConaughey is doing something spectacular with his life, with his career," Leto said at a post-midnight Q&A session after the movie ended. "And I wanted to be a part of that. He's doing the most incredibly inspiring work."
"Dallas Buyers Club" producer Robbie Brenner added later: "It was one of those 'Brady Bunch' moments where people are talking and you can't hear a word they're saying."
Words were also sometimes hard to come by during the gala screening of "Philomena," another fact-based story, this time about a woman searching for the son that Catholic nuns forced her to relinquish shortly after his birth. But the reasons were altogether different. The odd-couple interplay between Judi Dench, as the mother 50 years on, and
"Listen, it's a high-class problem," said the film's director, Stephen Frears.
How much critics can chip away at the performance of 17-time Oscar nominee Streep is debatable. Revered legends such as Streep seem to engender reflexive voting among academy members, particularly when they have roles that allow them to grandstand.
"Everyone has a misstep, sooner or later," Frears said, speaking in general terms. Frears has been to Toronto several times, first with "My Beautiful Laundrette" in 1985. He won the audience award with 1993's "Snapper" and remembers one festival reviewer likening
"But I've also had bad times," Frears said. "It's just what happens, and you can't explain it. But when a good time happens, you're very, very grateful. And I certainly wouldn't mind feeling that way for the next few months."
Whipp writes the