ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning: The following contains extremely mild SPOILERS for several upcoming movies that may or may not be Oscar nominated — albeit fewer than you'll find in their trailers and eventual marketing campaigns. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you is wise, though...)

Now, there are few more foolhardy propositions than making Oscar predictions in September. Sure, fist-fighting sharks is unwise, and poking bears has long since proven to be a terrible, terrible idea, but at least with those activities you pretty much know what your odds of survival are (hint: low). With early Oscar predictions, on the other hand, the chances of actually correctly gauging the ever-changing whims and fancies of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the folks who vote for the Oscars) in the lead-up to the Academy Awards are slim at best, and non-existent at worst.

And yet, because (metaphorically) fist-fighting sharks can be a whole lot of fun, here's a look at...

What TIFF 2016's Opening Weekend Means For the 2017 Oscar Race

[A Monster Calls/Focus Features]
[A Monster Calls/Focus Features]

The 2016 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival — better known to its friends as TIFF — is, after all, now well under way. What's more, with proceedings having begun in earnest this past Thursday, and with many of TIFF's most Oscar-baiting movies having now screened on several occasions, the opening weekend of the festival can now finally be considered to be well and truly over. Which in turn means that it's now possible to get an initial (albeit likely magnificently inaccurate) idea of what festival goers — and critics' — initial responses to the movies screened at TIFF might mean for the Oscars next year.

For more on this year's Oscar race, check out:

First up, then?

Loving Is An Early Favorite For The Best Actor And Actress Categories

A tale of state-forbidden love in the American south pre-desegregation, Loving would likely be a deeply moving film irrespective of the quality of its lead performances, but with stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton on hand, it's got a shot at something more. Edgerton gives a stark, striking performance, all gentle muscularity and barely expressed emotion, while Negga shines in a role that could so easily be mawkish or overblown, but in her hands remains quietly powerful. In other words? There's a pretty good chance we'll see the pair both receive nominations in 2017... and perhaps even prove to be the first lead pair to win both major acting categories in twenty years.


American Pastoral Is Currently Getting A Critical Kicking

Ewan McGregor's choice to adapt an acclaimed Philip Roth novel for his directorial debut was always going to be a bold one — its a tricky novel to get to grips with on the page, let alone on screen — and from the looks of the current critical consensus, it seems that it may not have paid off. Critics have largely savaged the film, suggesting that its tale of a father trying to find his long-lost daughter may not be in for much recognition come Oscar season. That being said, the response from audience-members seems to have been a little more positive, so there's always the chance that this one could be a slow-burning fan-favorite. Or never be heard from again...

Next up?

The Magnificent Seven Is Probably Only Going To Be Angling For Acting Oscars

Another widely hyped movie that didn't receive the critical response it will have been hoping for, The Magnificent Seven nonetheless contains some potentially Oscar nomination-friendly performances. Denzel Washington is in particularly award-baiting mode in the leading role (think Yul Brynner in the original, only less bald), while both Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio do good work in supporting roles that could well earn one of them a nomination. Perhaps don't expect a win for the film, though...


Arrival Is Stranger Than You'd Think, But Will Definitely Get A Bunch Of Oscar Nominations

The Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner-starring Arrival may be a far more unusual science fiction proposition than, say, last year's breakout success The Martian, but that doesn't mean it isn't likely to scoop up a whole lot of recognition from the Academy. Adams in particular seems destined to have a good reason to put on a fancy dress come Oscar night — and may well now be in a straight head-to-head battle with Ruth Negga to win Best Actress — but don't be too surprised to see Best Director and Best Picture nominations to head the 'first contact'-themed movie's way, too.

Next up?

A United Kingdom Isn't The King's Speech, But It's Still Likely To Get A Nomination Or Two

The tale of Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and his English wife Ruth Williams, A United Kingdom may not have quite enough about it to seriously challenge for Best Picture, but its two central performances could well rival the favorites in the acting categories. David Oyelowo gets the showier of the two parts, with several inspirational speeches and some big, sweeping emotion, but Rosamund Pike's subtle, restrained performance as Williams is perhaps the more affecting of the two nonetheless. Both can be considered wild cards to be nominated, perhaps, but ones that could well benefit were a few other eagerly anticipated films to falter critically.

And, finally?

A Monster Calls Deserves A Best Picture Nomination (But Might Not Get One)

One of the more unusual things about the Academy Awards is its tendency to disproportionately reward certain genres over others. As such, intense character dramas about famous figures from the past tend to do well, while action movies have to do something remarkable to even warrant a nomination. Young-skewing films are often similarly snubbed, a fate that may sadly befall the remarkable A Monster Calls, which in another reality could easily be the front-runner for Best Picture.

The tale of a young boy who meets a mysterious monster that insists upon telling him three stories, and being told one in return, the film is beautifully crafted, genre-defying and truly heartbreaking — and deserves far more nominations than it's likely to get. Instead of Best Picture, Best Director and a host of technical nominations, expect 'only' a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Patrick Ness (who also wrote the young adult novel the movie is based on) and perhaps a Supporting Actress nomination for Felicity Jones as the young boy's mother. Both of which would be well deserved, but less than the movie's quality could easily warrant.

The big question now, then?

Other than what Leo DiCaprio will do to anyone who tries to take his Oscar away from him, of course...

What do you reckon? Are there any movies screening at TIFF that you're particularly excited to see? Let us know below!


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