Top 3 Oscar Contenders that were celebrated at the TIFF 2017:
* The Shape Of Water: Guillermo del Toro’s gorgeously mounted fantasy thriller “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight), shot in Toronto, was so popular that it’s vying for TIFF’s audience award (often an Oscar Best-Picture forerunner). British actress Sally Hawkins could earn her second nomination for her luminous performance as a mute lab cleaner, and leads the crowded Best Actress category.
* “Lady Bird”: Greta Gerwig’s Gen-X coming-of-age drama “Lady Bird” rode momentum out of Telluride to become a TIFF must-see. (It’s at 91 on Metacritic.) A24 could take this movie far commercially with a boost from awards attention. The movie will nab strong support from Academy writers, directors, and actors (Gerwig will draw warm support as a Hollywood star who directs: see Oscar-winners Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, and Mel Gibson). Star Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement,” “Brooklyn”) will land another Best Actress nod, and Laurie Metcalf as the mother should score as well.
Two Sundance hits returned to the awards conversation: Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics) and Dee Rees’ “Mudbound”(Netflix). One is a lovely reverie about summer love that will launch Timothée Chalamet’s career and enhance the standing of Armie Hammer (who plays his older lover) and ubiquitous character actor Michael Stuhlbarg (as his father). “Mudbound,” however, is still a question mark, as Netflix needs to prove what it can do with a stunning period epic without a conventional theatrical build-up. Jason Clarke worked the Netflix party in Toronto with Rees, Garrett Hedlund, and Netflix movie chief Scott Stuber, who assured me they will get the job done.