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Newsletter: Toronto Film Festival wraps up

Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
(Sony Pictures)

Hello from the Toronto International Film Festival, neighbor. I just put my coat on the hanger, changed into my comfortable shoes and zipped up the cardigan so I can bring you up to speed on all the movies that have been playing here in Canada for the past week.

Let’s get to it so we can make the most of this beautiful day.

Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

I’m Glenn Whipp, The Times’ awards columnist and your newsletter host.

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A ‘Beautiful Day’ in Toronto

Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in a movie? That’s too perfect, right? When “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” cast member Matthew Rhys told people he was filming a movie about Mister Rogers, they invariably responded with a pleasant sigh. When he revealed that Tom Hanks was playing the television legend, they’d make the same satisfying sound — “aaaaaaw.”

At the world premiere of “Beautiful Day,” director Marielle Heller stressed the challenges of portraying Rogers, pushing back on the idea that Hanks’ work was simply one nice guy portraying another decent fellow.

“To be present and open in every moment, that’s a hard thing to do,” she said, adding that Hanks’ turn had to feel “naked” to work.

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I attended the premiere and wrote about this lovely and persuasive testament to the power of kindness.

My colleague, Times film critic Justin Chang, was especially taken by the movie, calling it “quietly disarming” and a “sweet, playful and humorous tribute to its famous subject.”

“Joker” director Todd Phillips, left, and star Joaquin Phoenix.
“Joker” director Todd Phillips, left, and star Joaquin Phoenix.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

‘Joker,’ ‘Just Mercy’ throw galas at TIFF

Todd Phillips’ grim comic book origin story “Joker” won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival but received a much less enthusiastic reception in Toronto. I wrote about the polarizing movie and its awards season prospects.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the true-story crowd-pleaser “Just Mercy,” a sturdy legal drama starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx that appeals to audiences’ hearts and minds, unlocking a sense of moral outrage in the process. The film, which opens in a limited release on Christmas, has a path to a best picture nomination, though it faces obstacles too.

The cast of “Uncut Gems,” including  Idina Menzel and Adam Sandler.
The cast and filmmakers of “Uncut Gems.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

More Times TIFF coverage

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Our extremely in-depth look at the films and people making waves at the Toronto Film Festival (including the much-loved movie “Waves”) can be found here. You’ll see stories like reporter Jen Yamato’s feature on “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria, a gallery of photographer Jay L. Clendenin’s Polaroid portraits, entries from Justin Chang’s critics notebook and much more. Soon, you’ll also find a conversation between Justin and myself, wrapping up the festival.

That’s it for now. But ...

I’ll be back when next week is new
And I’ll bring more ideas for you
And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about
I will too.

Feedback?

I’d love to hear from you. Email me at glenn.whipp@latimes.com.

Can’t get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.


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