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The Oscar Road Traveled By Toronto Films

Mike Fleming

The business story of the Toronto International Film Festival was a cautious resurgence of the specialty film market. But in my opinion the more compelling and even uplifting story surrounds those Toronto films now emerging as Best Picture Oscar candidates. The reason is that so many of them easily could have fallen apart in the struggle to get them to the big screen if not for the filmmakers’ admirable persistance:

127 Hours: After Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle could have taken a multi-million paycheck to direct James Bond or any of several other big budget studio films. Instead he chose to do on an indie level what Chris Nolan did on a studio level when he used his clout to direct his wholly original spec script Inception. Boyle took an upfront salary of just $666K and put all his Slumdog credibility chips on the table to make 127 Hours. The movie’s pitch — hiker amputates pinned arm with dull knife — is so preposterously non-commercial that even Boyle’s writing partner Simon Beaufoy didn’t get it until Boyle sketched out a first draft that showed the potential for a visceral and spiritually uplifting drama. “Sometimes, and this was the first time for me, you can’t explain it verbally, you have to write it down and test it on your collaborators,” Boyle said. Said producer Christian Colson: “While Slumdog was the classic underdog story — not enough money, nearly went straight to DVD, no stars, no power — … Read More »

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Can ‘Social Network’ Go All The Oscar Way?

Pete Hammond

As Toronto continues to unveil films, Oscar winning producer Scott Rudin (No Country For Old Men) was busy sending out email invites in NYC and LA to see The Social Network (October 1st), one of the few Fall openers not showing its wares in Canada this week. Instead, it will open the New York Film Festival instead on September 24. It’s a smart strategy but even without a personal invitation from one of the film’s producers this is already the current must-see movie on every Oscar watchers list.  As an example of that, one blogger actually got on a plane from Toronto to New York just to see Social Network, then headed immediately back to Toronto. His subsequent review was a rave declaring it the one to beat for Best Picture (a little premature on that I think). That’s just one example of the praise now starting to hit the Internet from Hitfix to Slashfilm to Chud and all cyber points inbetween.

Rudin’s email to me last Tuesday read in part, “I’m incredibly proud of it and promise you I would not waste your time”. Actually having seen the TV ads that already have Rolling Stone declaring it “The Movie Of The Year…,” I was pretty sure I wouldn’t.  The day after Rudin’s e-mail, 42 West, the PR firm repping the film, sent  a list of possibilities including 7 screenings in New York, and 8 in Los Angeles (all in small rooms … Read More »

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