Clooney vs. Fassbender: Old Guard vs. New
I’m off to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) today and by the time it’s over a week from Sunday — the night of the Emmy broadcast — roughly eighty percent of the Oscar contenders will have screened. Staggering!
Here’s a short list of sure things that will either prove themselves or fall by the wayside.
The Descendants: George Clooney’s lock for a best actor shot. In Alexander Payne’s first movie since Sideways, Clooney touches-and-charms as a Hawaiian father who becomes his daughters’ primary caregiver when his wife has an accident. It debuted at the elite Telluride Film Festival last week to tears, laughter and accolades. Expect there to be more nominations and it’s looking like a sure thing for the Best Picture short list.
The Ides of March: Clooneymania continues with the drama he directed with his version of The Candidate, in which he plays a governor running for president. Dirty politics ensue and Ryan Gosling has the starring role as the idealistic staffer who gets a wake-up call about backroom business. Response so far has been positive respectful, if not rapturous. Maybe supporting nods for Clooney or co-star Paul Giamatti, or Philip Seymour Hoffman, maybe a best actor nom for Gosling, and there’s even some potential for a Clooney directing nomination – my gut is that the actor has his eye on that prize. Once I set my eyes on it this week I’ll have a clearer idea of where I stand on March.
A Dangerous Method: Here’s the movie I’ve most anticipated: David Cronenberg’s period adaptation of the novel about mind games between colleagues Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, with Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Vincent Cassel and Keira Knightley. Early response about the messy birth of psychoanalysis has been mixed – brilliant but chilly – but no one has been mixed about the performances with Cassel, Fassbinder and Knightley generally earning raves.
Shame: Last year it was ‘Michael Fassbender, who?’ This year, he’s going to rival Clooney for attention, particularly when he goes full frontal as a Manhattan sex addict who has no, well, shame. Carey Mulligan plays his sister. They have issues. Fassbender who, like Clooney has two films in the fest, will definitely get buzz – but will it be Oscar-style?
Albert Nobbs: Glenn Close has a lock on a best actress Oscar nomination in her labor of love – she co-wrote the script – about the complicated social life of a 19th century woman who dresses as a man in order to work as a butler in a tony Dublin hotel. Early response has been respectful, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a strong woman’s take on this story.
The Artist: This hugely entertaining, black-and-white film about a Hollywood silent movie star who nearly becomes obsolete with the advent of the talkies was a splash last spring at Cannes. French star Jean Dujardin, who says two words in the film but could have a charm-off with Clooney – is a front-runner for Best Actor. The romantic comedy could easily become a sentimental favorite and crack the top ten best picture nominations.
Melancholia: After this movie screened at Cannes, Kirsten Dunst seemed a shoe-in for a much deserved best actress nod as a stressed sister whose life becomes even more fraught when a planet threatens to crash into earth. Then Director Lars von Trier opened his mouth and inserted his foot discussing his Nazi past. Can the movie survive the director? Or, at least, can Dunst prevail?
So, away I go to Toronto….let the red carpet unfurl.