As day seven of TIFF finishes the Reel Guys talk Oscars and music.
Richard: Mark, I learned my lesson about asking actors if they think they’ll get nominated for Oscars a long time ago. They all think they will, but none will admit it on the record. It’s a waste of a question, so I didn’t ask Eddie Redmayne if he thinks he’ll get nominated for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but I have to tell you, I think he’s a lock for a Best Actor nod. He takes control of the movie from the first frames and doesn’t let go, even in the latter half when he has no voice and speaks through a computer.
Mark: Not to be a cynic, but playing a character with a disability helps. Playing a famous character with a disability REALLY helps. But I’ve seen some other Oscar-worthy performances at the festival. Steve Carell as the unhinged Dupont heir in Foxcatcher for one. When comedians turn serious they can be devastating, if you remember Jackie Gleason in The Hustler. Carell puts on a weird nose for the role and turns in a role of repressed genius.
RC: Carell isn’t the only the only person who transforms himself in Foxcatcher. Jutting out his jaw changes Channing Tatum from movie star handsome to thick-necked gym rat. It’s a remarkable transformation and shows Tatum’s range. He may be best known as the stripper in Magic Mike, but like Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt before him, he’s working past his good looks to become a serious actor. Who else do you think might get Oscar attention form this year’s festival?
MB: Kevin Costner may get a nod for his sad, angry alcoholic lawyer in Black and White, and Robert Duvall for his sad, angry alcoholic judge in The Judge. Notice a pattern here? The real question is which Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy will prevail at Oscar time. John Cusack is wonderful as the older version, but I think Paul Dano will get the nomination for playing the younger Brian, if only for the more interesting haircut.
RC: Ha! If it’s musical movies with Oscar potential you want, TIFF has one that I’ll bang the drum for. Whiplash is part musical—the big band jazz numbers are exhilarating—and part psychological study of the tense dynamics between mentor and protégée in the pursuit of excellence. The pair is a match made in hell. Teacher Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons is a vain, driven man given to throwing chairs at his students if they dare hit a wring note. He’s an exacting hardliner who teaches by humiliation and fear. This movie doesn’t miss a beat.
MB: The Last Five Years probably has no Oscar potential, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a wonderful movie. Based on the off-Broadway musical, it has only two characters belting their hearts out about their relationship. The twist is, the girl’s story moves backward and the boy’s story moves forward. Jeremy Jordan is very good but Anna Kendrick is just great. But the real stars here are Richard LaGravanese’s direction and the songs by Jason Robert Brown. “Hey Shiksa Goddess” is sure to become a classic or something.