If 20th Century Fox isn’t entirely sure at this very moment how to play the Oscar campaign for Steve McQueen’s heist thriller “Widows,” it’s because there has never been a heist thriller like “Widows.”
And that’s precisely why it should be in the thick of the conversation this awards season.
“Widows,” which had its world premiere Saturday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, is ostensibly about a group of women, led by Viola Davis, carrying out a robbery that their husbands planned but never completed. (The film’s title betrays the reason why.)
Geena Davis and director Tom Donahue discuss women in Hollywood and the documentary "This Changes Everything" at the LA Times studio at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Geena Davis got into the black SUV that was waiting for her, clutching a couple of folded pages of notes. She’d jotted down a few ideas for her speech in black cursive.
“I can talk and do this at the same time,” she said, taking a pen out of her red Gucci bag to mark her pages with.
The actress, 62, was headed to the Share Her Journey rally here on Saturday morning, where hundreds had gathered to advocate for equality in the film industry. Davis was scheduled to speak first in a lineup that included director Amma Asante, actress Mia Kirshner and USC researcher Stacy L. Smith.
"The Predator" stars Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes and Augusto Aguilera address the controversial casting of a registered sex offender in the movie.
Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival, stars of “The Predator” addressed director Shane Black’s decision to cast registered sex offender Steven Wilder Striegel in the film and praised Olivia Munn for speaking out about the move, which prompted a last-minute recut made public in a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“I wasn’t disappointed in Shane,” said Trevante Rhodes during a group interview with Munn and Augusto Aguilera at The Times’ TIFF studio. “I was disappointed in the situation, and I’m happy that Liv spoke up.”
“I thought about the possibility of this continuing to happen, and where it happens — and also to Liv, for speaking up on such a subject, because it takes a lot of courage to be able to say that,” Aguilera added.
Let it be noted that the key line in the swooning pop-rock melodrama “A Star Is Born” isn’t spoken, or sung, by either Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper. It’s delivered by a hardened music-industry veteran played by a soulful Sam Elliott (is there any other kind?), who points out that all music is essentially a series of variations and interpretations on the 12 notes of a scale.
“It’s the same story told over and over,” he says. “All the artist can offer the world is how he sees those 12 notes.” He could, of course, be describing the movie he’s in, and perhaps offering a preemptive defense for those inclined to knock remakes on principle.
“A Star Is Born,” which marks Cooper’s directorial debut, is the latest gloss on a timeless Hollywood tragedy first told in the 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and then rekindled, gloriously, in 1954, with Judy Garland and James Mason. A 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson relocated the love story of a rising actress and a fading, hard-drinking movie star to the music biz, which is where Cooper’s version picks up.
This is the first time that Netflix, which will release “Roma” in December, has won the top prize at a major European film festival. (Netflix acquired Berlin fest winner “On Body and Soul” months after it won the prize.) And it comes just months after the streaming service was shut out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival due to its controversial day-and-date theatrical and streaming release strategy.
“Roma,” which will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival beginning Monday and serve as the centerpiece gala of the upcoming New York Film Festival, is already considered a top contender for Academy Award consideration.
Wherever Steve Bannon appears, controversy follows. The former advisor to President Trump, who was also involved in his election campaign, has most recently been in the headlines for being booked and then disinvited to speak at the upcoming New Yorker Festival. Errol Morris’ documentary on Bannon, “American Dharma,” recently had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.
Morris is no stranger to controversial subjects. He won an Oscar for his 2003 film “The Fog of War,” about the Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Among his subsequent projects was 2013’s “The Unknown Known,” about Donald H. Rumsfeld, two-time secretary of Defense who served during the launch of the Iraq war. Morris’ 1999 film “Mr. Death” was about execution technician and Holocaust denier Fred A. Leuchter Jr.
After the credits finished rolling for “Beautiful Boy,” a moving portrait of familial love in the face of addiction, the Toronto International Film Festival audience at the Elgin Theater predictably went nuts when Timothée Chalamet came on stage. Steve Carell, who plays Chalamet’s father in the film, received warm applause too.
But the biggest ovation came when the real-life subjects of the movie, David and Nic Sheff, arrived. “Beautiful Boy” is their story, based on their own bestselling memoirs, and Chalamet still seemed skittish in their presence.
“We had dinner last night and it was, like, all of us, and I’m a firm believer that the art takes place in the head of the audience member and yet there was a tremendous anxiety in what Nic and David were going to think about this,” Chalamet said during a Q&A following the film. “I hope you guys aren’t lying when you say you like it.”
"The Hate U Give" director George Tillman Jr. and star Amandla Stenberg discuss what separates their film from others inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that are hitting theaters this year.
Filming a movie about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality can be daunting. But for the cast and crew of “The Hate U Give,” which had its world premiere Friday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, they took the opportunity to pay respects to those who’ve lost their lives.
“The whole process of filming felt like a grieving process, a space and time to honor the lives of those who’ve been killed by police, to think about the significance of their lives...” said Amandla Stenberg, who leads the film as Starr, a high schooler who witnesses her best friend being shot and killed by a white officer.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., “The Hate U Give,” also stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Algee Smith, Common, Issa Rae and KJ Apa. It will hit theaters Oct. 19.
“The Predator” is unmistakably a Shane Black movie, right from the opening scene of its camouflaged sniper hero (Boyd Holbrook) wisecracking amid the nighttime flora. Lensed in meaty hues, he takes down a target with a casual head shot before an alien ship crashes into Earth to inaugurate the action-packed proceedings.
Predators? It’s got plenty, including impressive new variations on the extraterrestrial big-game hunter, major twists on the “Predator” mythology and a new squad of misfit warrior heroes (and heroine) who keep the film moving at a clip as they fight, survive and protect their way to the end.
Eager festival fans amped for the Midnight Madness section opener packed Toronto’s Ryerson Theatre and cheered as Black introduced the movie Thursday, when they were the first to see the 20th Century Fox sequel ahead of its Sept. 14 wide release.