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Early Front-running For The Film Awards Season: Part 2

With the Toronto International Film Festival done and dusted, it looks like new darlings and favorites have emerged—exciting times ahead for those who follow these affairs

Read part one here.


Leave it to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to throw a curveball from out of nowhere, and bestow Taika Waititi’s screwball, anti-hate satire, Jojo Rabbit, the plum Audience Award. The premise for the film is from beyond left field—Jojo is a member of the Hitler Youth and discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Taika himself portrays a fantasy figure Adolf Hitler that Jojo interacts with. It’s actually divided audiences, as some really don’t know how to take black comedies of this ilk— remember the intense and diverse reactions toThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a few years ago? 


But can this kind of accolade unbelievably lead to Taika’s film gaining Best Picture and/or Best Director nominations? I’ve been an avid fan of Taika’s work, from the mock-umentary What We Do in the Shadows to Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and his being given a big budget film opportunity with Thor: Ragnarok. But from cult favorite to possible Best Director nomination seems more like the stuff of fairytales. Mind you, if this film takes him there; along with Joker director Todd Phillips, it will be exciting times for these two first-time contenders. 



If Lady Gaga had her turn in the film awards season spotlight last year, is it J. Lo’s turn? With a film career that never quite got critics excited, Jennifer Lopez now stars in Hustlers, along with Constance Wu and Cardi B; and the film has “buzz” written all over it. As private dancers/strippers turned savvy grifters, the film has excited critics, proclaiming J.Lo’s performance as Best Actress-worthy. 


Directed and written by Lorene Scafaria, the film is a crime drama that’s based on a 2015 New York Magazine article. Premise has to do with strippers who run a scam milking CEO’s and stock traders who visit their club; and will hardly be aggressive pressing charges, thereby admitting they frequent the club.



The other film with Best Actress nomination stamped on it is Judy, and Renée Zellweger’s portrayal of Judy Garland in London in 1969. In the UK for a series of sold out concerts at the Talk of the Town, fans of Judy will note that 1969 is the year she passed away. It’s an adaptation of the much-lauded play End of the Rainbow, that was both Olivier and Tony-nominated. 



Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce star in the biographical comedy-drama The Two Popes. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, Hopkins plays Pope Benedict XVI, while Pryce is the future Pope Francis—and the expectation is that there’ll be some Best Actor nominations heading their way. The pleasant surprise surrounding this film is how it works as a comedy, despite the seemingly somber subject matter. 



Fresh from the TIFF, people were raving about Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, an update of the Agatha Christie parlor-room mystery genre. For any awards-giving body with an ensemble prize, this film should be right up there, vying for the win. It stars Daniel Craig and Chris Evans, both breaking with type, and having a ton of fun. Trailer alone is hilarious; and am really looking forward to catching this one.



And if there were “losers” coming out of the TIFF, the sorry news is they would be The Goldfinch and Lucy In the Sky. I’ve already written about my fears adapting a novel like Goldfinch to film. And sure enough, reports are that the film is a confused mess, that even the star power of Nicole Kidman can’t save.


Lucy in the Sky can similarly boast of Natalie Portman leading the cast; but if you thought the kind of “bad girl” biopic acclaim that followed Tonya would be rekindled, think again. This one is about a female astronaut, and the film is definitely lost in space.



So many quality films to look forward to over the next three months. And we can only hope that a good number of the ones mentioned above have runs here in Manila. Cannes’ Parasite has been running for extended weeks now, and that’s a nice surprise; while Venice’s Joker opens in October. Praying Jojo Rabbit now has the legs to get a theatrical release here.


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