Sandra Bullock, Tom Hiddleston, and the 8-year-old wunderkind from 'Room' celebrate TIFF
Credit: John Shearer/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

Oscar season is just a few days old, and the Toronto International Film Festival is, for many of entertainment’s biggest stars, like the first autumn day back at school. The EW Toronto Must List Party on Saturday night had that feel, as many of the famous guests resembled classmates who’d just spent exciting summers away and were eager to catch up and swap stories.

Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston, stars of The Martian and I Saw the Light — and who appear together in the upcoming Crimson Peak — huddled together for hellos. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who has a key role in The Martian, greeted his old Kinky Boots costar, Joel Edgerton (Black Mass), with a wide-eyed question: “What happened to your head?” (The answer: Edgerton’s mane is cropped short and bleached blonde for his role in director Jeff Nichols’ upcoming historical drama, Loving.) Elsewhere, Trumbo director Jay Roach chatted with his film’s star, Bryan Cranston, and Freeheld lead Julianne Moore — a conversation that doubled as a historical hypothetical of what it would look like if Lyndon Baines Johnson was able to make Sarah Palin laugh.

Roach, who is currently directing an adaptation of Cranston’s LBJ play, All the Way, for HBO, confided he’d love to pair the two actors together on a project, perhaps one of the taut political dramas at which he’s become so adept. Moore won an Emmy and Golden Globe for playing Palin in Game Change, while Trumbo, which premiered Saturday night in Toronto, tells the story of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Cranston), who refused to buckle under the pressure of the communist witchhunts of the 1940s and ’50s even after he was ostracized by Hollywood. “It’s Shakespeare,” said Roach, explaining his recent affinity for political tales — though he quickly clarified, “I’m no Shakespeare. But it’s these same type stories of power.”

Cranston’s LBJ is still very much near the surface, and it only took a few references to Robert Caro’s books and Johnson’s legendary persuasiveness for him to slip into character, wrap a friendly arm around a guest’s shoulder, lean in close, and imitate the president’s Texas twang as if asking for help in the Senate. (He got my vote.)

Near the bar, French-Canadian auteurs Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) and Jean-Marc Vallee (Demolition) swapped tales with Emily Blunt, whose buzzy performance as an FBI agent fighting the Mexican drug cartels could be Best Actress material. Her competition in that race might include Our Brand is Crisis‘ Sandra Bullock, who plays a political strategist pulling the campaign strings for a struggling South American presidential candidate. The Gravity star anchored one whole end of the party as she was surrounded by well-wishers. Matt Damon, who took the weekend off from Bourne duty to help debut The Martian, popped in to chill with his costars.

But the biggest star of the party might have been the smallest: 8-year-old Vancouver native, Jacob Tremblay, who plays the sheltered child who’s never been outside in Lenny Abrahamson’s adaption of Emma Donoghue’s Room. Brie Larson, who plays his mother, welcomed the youngster with a giant hug, and every time you turned around, Tremblay was winning smiles and giving high-fives to Hollywood celebs. In the film, his character, Jack, has only ever lived inside Room, a tiny prison that has always been his reality and thus is normal for him. “Some child actors can just be themselves,” said Abrahamson, “but this part demanded real acting. He had to play a child who believes what Jack believes and that’s no easy task. If we hadn’t found him, we didn’t have a movie.”

“He became a different kid during the making of the movie,” said Tremblay’s mother, Christina. “They made every day on the set so fun and special, but it was kind of nice when it ended and I could hug my boy again.”

Room opens in theaters on Oct. 16, and there may be more high-fives in Tremblay’s future. Not only is he working with Naomi Watts on Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World follow-up, The Book of Henry, but effusive critical praise for the film following its debut at Telluride could mean his Oscar season didn’t necessarily end with his 8:30 Saturday night bedtime.

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