The Toronto International Film Festival is over, but awards season has just begun.
For more than 40 years, TIFF has been a strong indicator of Oscar hopes, with Best Picture winners like ‘Nomadland’, ‘Green Book’, ’12 Years a Slave’, ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. all winning the Audience Award at the festival.
High-profile world premieres this year included Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans” (winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award); “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” by Rian Johnson and “The Woman King” by Gina Prince-Bythewood.
As awards season rolls around, here are the best performances from movies screened at TIFF that are already making waves.
Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy (Women Who Talk)
Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley is being touted as one of the premieres for her heartbreaking film ‘Women Talking,’ which she wrote and directed. Based on the novel by Miriam Toews, it follows the women of a Mennonite colony as they decide how to handle an epidemic of sexual abuse. The film is anchored by captivating and emotionally complex performances from a stunning ensemble cast. Buckley and Foy almost certainly get nods, while Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand and Ben Whishaw are also strong contenders for supporting role nominations.
Viola Davis (The Woman King)
Davis gives a standout performance in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s latest, a true story of the Agojie, the all-female military regiment charged with protecting the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. She has a strong chance of being nominated for the Oscar for best actress and if she wins, she will be the second black woman to win an Oscar, after Halle Berry in 2002 for “Monster’s Ball”.
Gabriel LaBelle and Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)
Steven Spielberg’s film is a serious and poignant work based on his childhood passion for cinema. LaBelle is disarmingly channeling the wide-eyed, cinephile young Spielberg or rather his alter ego in this film, Sam Fabelman. The film is heavily anchored by Williams’ stellar turn as Sam’s mother. While there are accolades for LaBelle and Williams, Paul Dano as Father Burt and the remarkable Judd Hirsch as Uncle Boris are also in the running.
Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monáe (Glass Onion: A Mystery at Daggers Drawn)
Rian Johnson’s long-awaited Oscar-nominated “Glass Onion” won over audiences as the second runner-up for the People’s Choice Award. Along with being up for Best Picture, the Netflix film is a showcase for actors Craig, Hudson and Monáe, all of whom have Oscar-worthy photos.
Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
Fraser, who received the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance, is a clear Oscar favorite for his remarkable turn as a reclusive, 600-pound English teacher trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.” The film also stars Sadie Sink and Hong Chau, who are generating their own excitement.
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Martin McDonagh’s latest dark comedy won several awards at the Venice International Film Festival, including Best Actor for Colin Farrell. Farrell is a strong contender for Best Actor at the Oscars while Brendan Gleeson has a shot in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union (The Inspection)
Elegance Bratton’s stellar debut as a director and screenwriter is inspired by his own life story as a young gay black man who, after being rejected by his mother, decides to join the Marines. Jeremy Pope shines as Ellis French and has already built up a strong following for awards season. Gabrielle Union, who is giving the best of her career as a homophobic prison guard mother, has also impressed critics.
Olivia Colman (Empire of Light)
Another beautiful film about movie magic and human connection, Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” lets Olivia Colman shine. She is one of the first in the race for the Oscar for best actress.
Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse)
Jessica Chastain gives a perfectly layered performance in this Tobias Lindholm Netflix flick while Eddie Redmayne will surprise many with his subtle yet deeply chilling portrayal of Charlie Cullen, one of history’s most prolific serial killers recorded. They have a solid chance of being voted best actress and actor at the Oscars.
Song Kang-ho (broker)
‘Parasite’ star Song Kang-ho, who previously won Best Actor at Cannes for his performance in this Hirokazu Koreeda film, delivers a heartfelt turn as a child trafficker who sets out to sell the baby of a mother on the run and learn the meaning of family along the way.
Jennifer Lawrence (Casway)
Jennifer Lawrence gives a raw and compelling performance in this Apple TV Plus movie from Lila Neugebauer, featuring Lynsey, a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers who returns from Afghanistan after her vehicle hit an explosive, injuring her body and brain. She is up for Best Actress again.
Bill Nighy (alive)
Bill Nighy is touted for giving his best in this Oliver Hermanus remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic ‘Ikiru’. It follows a British bureaucrat who questions the choices he’s made in life after receiving a terminal diagnosis.
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