Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In September, 'August' already has Streep in Oscar mix

Streep's Violet sits between daughters played by Julianne Nicholson and Julia Roberts.
TORONTO -- Not even a week into the 38th annual international film festival here, and nothing's really new. I mean, Meryl Streep certainly has another record Oscar nomination in hand with her blow-you-away performance in director John Wells' equally brilliant "August: Osage County."
As the matriarch in northern Oklahoma's wild and woolly Weston clan, Streep terrifies, tart-tongues and tips and trips over everyone and everything in sight while chewing up enough scenery to make the late Elizabeth Taylor proud. (Think Taylor's performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and then some.)
The film, based on Tracy Letts' Pulitzer-Prize winning play, definitely has a Best Picture nod in place, too, with Wells and Letts sitting pretty for their directing and writing chores. A few from an amazing all-star cast will be in the awards mix as well, with Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper looking like the top contenders.
As the annual TIFF extravaganza heads into Day Six, here are a few other festival films probably making plans for the March 2 Academy Awards ceremony:
"12 Years a Slave" -- Director Steve McQueen ("Hunger," "Shame") and writer John Ridley ("Red Tails") offer up grand pictures and words you might not want to see or hear, but they're mostly compelling in a visual feast one friend called " 'Gone With the Wind' in nightmare mode." Performances by lead Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, in mean-spirited support, will be nominated, too.
Leto looks ready for a Red Carpet -- and a best support actor race.
"Dallas Buyer's Club' --  Matthew McConaughey will emerge from Toronto as a Best Actor frontrunner, but it's the spectacular Jared Leto, as an equally memorable drag queen, who possibly has the Best Supporting Actor prize already in hand. He's just that good.
"Philomena" -- Please include Dame Judith Dench in the Best Actress derby and -- surprise -- Steve Coogan (the film's co-writer and producer) among supporting actor candidates for their spot-on and often extremely funny performances in this sure-to-be crowd-pleaser from director Stephen Frears ("The Queen").
"Gravity" -- Visuals and sound are what steal the show in Alfonso Cuaron's short space odyssey, but some are breathlessly talking up Sandra Bullock's weightless efforts for a Best Actress nod.
Finally, if there's any justice, Woody Allen's hilarious posturing as a Brooklyn pimp in John Turturro's absurdly sublime "Fading Gigolo" would get noticed for some kind of end-of-year supporting commendation, too.
We'll see but, before then, please return to this space this weekend when Toronto hands out some awards of its own.

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