Among big-ticket Oscar contenders, the critic's heart will always be with the overlooked gem.
Sep 14, 2012
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Every film festival has its own customized vanity. Maybe a mite grimly, Cannes hangs on to its monopoly on glamour. It’s harder than it used to be to get big American stars to walk the red carpet—the studios no longer see much PR value in a Cannes premiere for movies they’re spending millions to open a week later stateside anyway—but the paparazzi can always make do with Johnny Hallyday in a pinch. Sundance, of course, is still the ideal place for indie filmmakers to attract notice. The New York fest gets by on whatever spurious sense of consequence is implied by its location, location, location. And these days, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) touts itself as the place where the road to the Oscars begins.
In overdrive ever since future Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire’s North American premiere here four years ago—The Artist, The King’s Speech, and The Hurt Locker all did the same—this particular hype isn’t to everyone’s liking. It distorts the festival’s real calling card for cinephiles: its roster’s ecumenism, which is quite possibly unequalled by any competitor’s. But Hollywood predictably loves the rabbit’s-foot bit. No less predictably, the fest’s financial backers, both private and public—along with the likes of L’Oreal and Bell, both Ontario province and the Canadian government chip in with TIFF funding, and how civilized—are said to think the Oscar connection is just grand.