This is the second episode of a series of broadcasts from the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022. You can read the first transmission here.
When the news came from Venice that a documentary had won the top prize of that film festival, the Golden Lion, for the second time – All the beauty and the bloodshed (Neon), Oscar winner Laura Poitras‘ look at Nan GoldinThe Sackler family crusade was crowned the winner on Saturday, Italian time – the Toronto Film Festival, where that film will premiere Monday night in North America, was just getting underway.
on Sunday evening, Harry Styles mania – which had hit Venice days earlier with the premiere of Olivia Wilde‘s don’t worry baby (Warner Bros.), starring opposite Florence Pughoand with an interaction between him and Chris Pine which may or may not involve spit – came to Canada, as Styles’ other 2022 movie, Michael Grandage‘s my police officer (Amazon), world premiere here.
Not unexpectedly, a huge crowd surrounded the Princess of Wales Theatre, trying to catch a glimpse of the pop star/actor on his way to the venue. But somewhat unexpectedly, many critics and pundits, including yours truly, came out of the film – a story about a man (Styles) married to a woman (Emma Corrin) but in love with another man (David Dawson) in 1950s England — with nice things to say about Styles’ performance, if not the film itself (which is currently 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes).
Sunday night’s other big Toronto premiere—this one just a North American debut, as the film had already taken Venice by storm—was Darren Aronofsky‘s The whale (A24), Samuel D. Hunter‘s adaptation of his own semi-autobiographical play, featuring a 90s heartthrob Brendan Fraser like a man of 600 pounds, living in the care of a friend (shrink‘s Hong Chau), who his relationship with his estranged daughter (Weird stuff‘s Sadie Sink) before it is too late. The film shocked the Royal Alexandra Theater, garnering a long standing ovation and adding momentum to Fraser’s Oscar campaign for best actor in the Cinderella story.
Something to think about: Aronofsky previously made another film (a) about a man who races against time to make amends with his daughter who (b) also marked a comeback-from-a-death career for his star and (c) also came to Toronto via Venice: 2008’s the wrestlerstarring Mickey Rourke, which eventually ended with an Oscar for Best Actor. But one big difference: Rourke never radiated the warmth, decency and humility that Fraser does, on screen or off – no amount of thick prosthetics can hide it – which is why I think he can go even further with the Academy.
After their premieres, Styles and Fraser rushed to the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel – home for the recently departed Queen Elizabeth II while in Toronto – for the fourth annual TIFF Tribute Gala, a year-round fundraiser for TIFF’s diversity and inclusion efforts, with a number of pre-announced awards being presented to prominent filmmakers.
I enjoyed sitting at the A24 table, which attracted many visitors (including Academy president Janet Yang and CEO Bill Kramer) and lookyloos because two of the evening’s guests of honor, Fraser and Everything Everywhere All at once star Michelle Yeowho happened to play together in 2008 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and now that the consensus are frontrunners for the best actor and best actress Oscars, sat there side by side.
After welcome comments from TIFF CEO Cameron Baileythe festivities kicked off with the presentation of TIFF’s Ensemble Award to Styles and his my police officer costars, who were escorted to the room by security to receive their prizes and then straight back out, presumably to avoid a crowd scene around Styles. Styles got a chuckle from the crowd by kicking the long train of Corrin’s otherwise barely there dress on the way to the stage, then led the group away: “Hello. Thank you so much, everyone here, on behalf of all of us, for this wonderful award. We all had so much fun working on this film, and we hope you enjoy it. I’ll pass you on to Emma.’
Following the presentation of the Emerging Talent Award by Jason Reitman to director Sally El Hosaini in front of the swimmers (Netflix), Olivia Colmanstar of Sam Mendes‘new movie’ Realm of Light (Searchlight), was introduced – to loud applause – and presented, together with Roger Ebert‘s widow Chaz Ebert, the Ebert Director Award for Mendes. After being received with a standing ovation, Mendes noted that his career effectively kicked off at TIFF 23 years ago with the world premiere of his first film, american beautyand shared important lessons he’s learned since then.
Stephanie Hsuthe Beautiful Mrs Maisel actress who also plays Yeoh’s daughter in Everything Everywhere All at oncethen brought the 60-year-old to tears as she presented her with the TIFF Share Her Journey Groundbreaker Award – their film, Hsu Cracked, “shows us a version of Michelle Yeoh that we haven’t seen, but we’ve all been desperate to see: each individual version from Michelle Yeoh!” Unlike the other TIFF Tribute honours, Yeoh doesn’t even have a movie in Toronto, but this party, like last week’s Telluride Film Festival, wanted her on hand anyway because, well, everybody is happy for the veteran actress and applauds her career-defining performance. “With this award, I think I am officially a breakthrough,” Yeoh said, cheering. “And now that the ground has been broken, it’s up to the next generation of women to lay a foundation for something even bigger.”
Then, Sarah Polley presented her with the Artisan Award women talk composer Hildur Gudnadottir (the joker Oscar winner also scored — and is checked in — another 2022 contender, tar); the Oscar-winning Native Canadian-American singer/songwriter/composer Buffy Sainte-Marie was celebrated with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media; and then it was Fraser’s turn in the spotlight.
Introductory remarks from Aronofksy and Hunter, as well as a great film featuring highlights from throughout Fraser’s career, clearly moved the 53-year-old, who went on to win over the audience by sharing with them that he spent his teenage years in Toronto (he spent several parts of the city checked the name), stating that he had much more experience presenting awards than receiving them (describing the perfect transfer, noting that the only previous award he had received for individual achievement came when he was in fourth grade, a bowling trophy in which his name was misspelled) and express his gratitude to Aronofsky and Hunter (“Art is about taking a risk, and you should know they took a chance on me, and I will be eternally grateful to you”).
Monday at TIFF featured a special screening of no (Universal), a film that has already cycled through theaters, but got a boost here with an IMAX screening preceded by a Q&A with writer/director Jordan Peele. And me and other members of the press who didn’t attend the world premiere of Rian Johnson‘s Glass Onion: A Knife Mystery (Netflix), which surrounds Daniel Craig2019’s Benoit Blanc Blades off featuring a new cast of colorful characters, were able to capture the comedic crowd pleaser at the press/industry screening, which was held at the Royal Alexandra Theater to spark great interest in the film. I am not sure about that Glass Onion is going to be a serious Oscar nominee outside of the custom screenplay category, but I’m sure it’ll do huge numbers once it starts streaming on December 23.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to beat the Emmys – from Toronto!