So, Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate turned into kind of a dud, earning descriptions as sort of a low rent Social Network wannabe, albeit with some praise for Cumberbatch's performance as Julian Assange. Still, with middling reviews, this one doesn't look to be going anywhere near Oscars:
"For a film that reminds us over and over that this is a whole new world, this movie feels awfully familiar." (Film.com)
"Benedict Cumberbatch's Julian Assange is the highlight of a sometimes ordinary-feeling film." (Hollywood Reporter)
"An uneven, intermittently thoughtful but largely preachy overview of WikiLeaks' rising influence." (Indiewire)
Dallas Buyers Club fared a lot better, drawing overall strong reviews and high praise for Matthew McConaughey and especially Jared Leto, who some say walks away with the film as a drag queen with AIDS. There may be bigger movies this year in the hunt for Best Picture, so this one seems all about the acting- you can expect a for sure Best Supporting Actor nod for Leto, and probably one for McConaughey as well, although he's facing a much more crowded field of contenders. It will help that he's never been nominated and has been turning in one strong performance after another in small films for the last couple of years without being recognized, a huge career resurgence for him.
"A mesmerizing performance from Matthew McConaughey, as a rowdy, red-neck electrician and rodeo cowboy who leads a lifestyle of booze, drugs, and uninhibited sex in the mid-1980s, and who is shocked to find himself diagnosed with AIDS, is the vibrant core of the absorbing 'Dallas Buyers Club', a film likely to feature strongly in the awards run-up, with McConaughey a shoo-in for a Best Actor nomination." (Screendaily)
"The role calls for nothing short of full immersion and the star comes off as almost unrecognizable, apart from his charisma." (Variety)
The big surprise of Toronto has turned out to be John Carney's Can a Song Save Your Life?, from the director who made Once (one of my favorite movies of the last decade), and who many say has knocked it out of the park again in this movie, about a producer and songwriter who come together in New York, trying to make it big. The movie started a bidding war between studios all vying for it (The Weinstein Co. finally got it), and has been tapped by extremely enthusiastic reviews as a possible awards contender and crowdpleaser, if it's released this year. Starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley (who does her own singing!) I'm truly excited for this and you can mark it down for sure on my must see list.
"But there are times when the thing you want most is not a big, important movie but a simple, beautiful story told with sensitivity, warmth, humor and a big heart. Times when you don't need a movie to save your life, you just need a movie to make you feel good." (The Wrap)
"To circle back to that line between loving someone and falling in love with someone, Ruffalo and Knightley (and Carney's script) do a tremendous job at showcasing two people whose need for each other is so overwhelming that you can't help but remain engaged in their slow waltz along that line. It's beautiful, and it's real." (Movies.com)
As for other films in Toronto, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity continue to receive wowed reactions every where they go, and these two are definitely the ones to beat so far. 12 Years a Slave is even drawing comparisons to Schindler's List at this point, while people remain stunned by the effects and awe-inspiring vision of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. And Ron Howard's Rush continued to receive glowing notices as the director's best movie in years (still 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) and praise for Daniel Bruhl as a another likely Supporting Actor nominee for playing the Formula One driver Niki Lauda.