Toronto International Film Festival recognizes the likely Oscar contenders for their respective work in The Power of the Dog and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain have made strong early strides on the awards trail as the Oscar race heats up.

The Toronto International Film Festival named the Power of the Dog star and the Eyes of Tammy Faye actress as its recipients of the 2021 TIFF Tribute Actor Awards ahead of the Canadian event's 46th edition.

Cumberbatch — a prior Oscar nominee for his work in The Imitation Game — earned the distinction as his performances in both TIFF-screening films The Power of the Dog (director Jane Campion's first movie in 12 years) and the Electrical Life of Louis Wain biopic prepare to premiere at the festival, while Academy Award nominee Chastain scored the prize ahead of TIFF's showing of her Michael Showalter-directed drama about the life of late televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.

Among other TIFF Tribute Awards honorees are artist and activist Alanis Obomsawin and Denis Villeneuve, the French Canadian recipient of this year's Ebert Director Award whose highly anticipated adaptation of the popular sci-fi novel Dune will screen as part of this year's festival.

Since the TIFF Tribute Awards' inception two years ago, the ceremony has become a promising — if still budding — predictor of Oscar tastes. Eventual Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix made one of his first stops on the 2019 awards circuit as one of the festival's inaugural Tribute Actor winners for his performance in Joker, while last year's Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins traveled a similar path toward victory for The Father. Nomadland filmmaker Chloé Zhao also won last year's TIFF Ebert Director Award before steamrolling the Oscar race en route to a landmark Best Director win at the 2021 Academy Awards in April.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain have won the TIFF Tribute Actor Awards ahead of the Oscars race.
| Credit: KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX; 20th Century Studios

In addition to The Power of the Dog and The Eyes of Tammy Faye, films playing at TIFF this year include suspected awards fare from Pablo Larraín (Spencer), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Edgar Wright (Last Night in Soho), Stephen Karam (The Humans), Eva Husson (Mothering Sunday), and Cannes' reigning Palme d'Or winner Julia Ducournau (Titane), among others.

This year's TIFF Tribute Awards will be handed out during the 46th Toronto International Film Festival, which includes an abbreviated slate amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and runs from Sept. 9-18. A specific date for the Tribute Awards ceremony has yet to be announced.

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