There's Oscar buzz for Anne Hathaway and love for Mickey Rourke at this year's festival

If film festivals love to anoint a darling, then Toronto hit the jackpot this year with Mickey Rourke, whose performance as a washed-up grappler in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler earned him comeback role of a lifetime! type praise and became the story of the 33rd annual outing’s first half. Even better: At a time when the shrinking number of indie distributors has turned the acquisitions market into a cauldron of caution, Fox Searchlight picked up The Wrestler — which also won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival — for just under $4 million. ”We did want to thunder in — that was our goal,” jokes Rourke, who describes the rave reviews as ”a little unreal, but not unexpected. I knew after about four days of working with Darren that we had something special.” The one person who came close to Rourke’s status was Anne Hathaway — her turn as a recovering drug addict in Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married was among the few to generate Oscar talk. ”I’ve never done work that was considered worthy of buzz before, so I’m enjoying that,” says Hathaway, who adds with a smile, ”But you know, it is also only September.”

Lacking any serious Best Picture contenders, festivalgoers turned to crowd-pleasers like Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Danny Boyle’s Mumbai-set Slumdog Millionaire, and romantic comedy Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, starring local hero Michael Cera. (Adorable alert: Cera brought his parents to the premiere after-party.) Even the protestors outside the premiere of Bill Maher’s politically incorrect documentary Religulous were starstruck. ”They had signs: ‘Save Bill Maher,’ ‘Pray for Bill Maher,”’ notes the comedian. ”But they’re Canadian, so they are polite. One of them asked for my autograph.”

Rachel Getting Married
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