The Toronto International Film Festival doesn’t really give out awards (except an audience prize). But now that I’m back from five days up north, I’d like to create my own prizes for this year’s crop of films. Let’s call them the Tor-Oscars. And the winners are:
BEST PICTURE: Michael Clayton (pictured) With amazing performances by George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Wilkinson; a tightly-coiled script by writer-director Tony Gilroy; and a humdinger of an ending, this isn’t just the movie of the festival, in my opinion. It’s the movie of the year.
BEST DIRECTOR: Joe Wright, Atonement Before Pride & Prejudice, no one had really heard of this young Brit. But after his masterful work on Atonement, including a mind-blowing 5-minute tracking shot, no one will forget him.
BEST ACTOR: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah As the father of a missing soldier, the tough guy shows a hidden softer side — and delivers the performance of his career.
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age Yes, we’ve seen her play this character before. But Blanchett is a screaming, scheming force of nature in this sequel, which she simply owns.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild The veteran actor doesn’t show up in Sean Penn’s film until the 2-hour mark, but thanks to his gutsy, heartbreaking performance, his sequence is by far the most moving.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Garner, Juno The star of Alias and The Kingdom does no butt-kicking in this sweet comedy. Instead, as a young wife desperately hoping to adopt, she’s funny, a bit tough, and unbelievably touching.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Steve Knight, Eastern Promises A past Oscar nominee for Dirty Pretty Things, Knight fashions a vivid story of gangsters, midwives, and second chances in seedy London…and lays the groundwork for a career-high performance by Viggo Mortensen.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men As they did with Fargo, the brilliant brothers use violence (and dashes of humor) to make us think about the way we, as individuals and a nation, live — and fight.