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TIFF 2014: Oscar Buzz and Best Actors

09/11/2014 12:50 EDT | Updated 11/11/2014 05:59 EST
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the premiere of "The Imitation Game" on day 6 of the Toronto International Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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TIFF'09 was a very big year for buzz. Creation opened the fest, Dr. Parnassus was Heath's last film and the Oscar buzz was all about "Oprah, Oprah, Oprah!" Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire was capturing all the acclaim and glory. Then the festival closed with Emily Blunt's performance of The Young Victoria. It was visually gorgeous, she and Rupert Friend were excellent as the Queen and her consort, and I fell in love with both of them. This was my second closing night gala and party, and unlike previous years it was being held at Roy Thomson Hall. It really was an unusual night because they even put the VIP section for those behind the film on the same floor with the rest of us. At the beginning of the party, I was sipping on some wine and chatting with a friend when all of a sudden Emily Blunt walks by us. "Emily!" I touch her arm and she stops. Now I'm holding her hand.

"Oh my god, that was the best film ever! You were so great in it. And I predict that by March it'll be 'Oprah who, Oprah where'!" I gushed.

Then I realize that I'm holding her hand. Let go of her hand, you freak, I say to myself. Oh, oops. Wow she has the softest skin. I let go.

"Thanks for liking the film," she says. "Now, can you tell me where the closest bar is?"

"What do you mean, you have the VIP section over there!"

"Yeah but no one's there yet--"

"Well then, give me your VIP bracelet and I'll go in!" No such luck...

Now that it's Day 7 of TIFF'14, the predictions have already started buzzing around. In fact, they started Monday, at least among my immediate TIFF circle. And unlike previous years, the Best Actress noms have been far more difficult to assemble than the Best Actors. It appears that the common theme running through the films I've chosen this year is men and boys: they're evolving, growing up, realizing their true potential, overcoming or succumbing to the odds, becoming remarkable, descending into madness or debilitating illness -- or worse. So for fun, here are my nominations for Best Actor if it was up to me.

The films I've seen up to now that would be Oscar contenders:

  • The Judge
  • Boychoir
  • St. Vincent
  • The Riot Club
  • Miss Julie
  • This is where I leave you
  • The Theory of Everything
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  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
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    Predicted list of Best Actors, in no particular order:

  • Robert Duvall - Stunning as the Judge.
  • Robert Downey Jr. - Performance on par, if not better than Chaplin.
  • Sam Claflin - It's not merely because he and his co-actors sported gorgeous bespoke suits to the premiere, his character was scrumptiously brutal.
  • Bill Murray - Brilliant role; even better than his FDR from two years ago.
  • Colin Farrell - Brilliant acting, but the movie itself is slow and plodding.
  • Jason Bateman - Bittersweet role, beautifully done.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch - He really is a master; He also took care of the crowd outside including us ticket-holders. (He signed my ticket) Was able to ask him about his prep for the role, which was made harder since there is very little archival material to work from.
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  • Steve Carell - So amazing to see him in such a complex role. He was Du Pont.
  • Eddie Redmayne - I'm not the first to say that this is Redmayne's My Left Foot. It must have been exhausting to be contorted like Hawking. He was so good at it that I could only see Hawking on the screen. Incredible effort and I think it's his year.
  • And for fun, I'd even nominate Ralph Fiennes for his role in The Hotel Budapest, even though it didn't play at TIFF. If it had, I suspect it would have premiered at the Elgin, where the best weird stuff plays. (See: Tideland)

    Next time: Best Actress

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