It seems like the main heat of the festival circuit has already come and gone, even with Toronto still to come. Telluride came and went in a minute, and Venice is on its last long stretch with all the main hype come and gone. I'm still anticipating a surprise or two to come, but nothing major to change the state of the Oscar race. I'm actually somewhat weakened by the number of potential dropouts in the Best Picture race due to their festival receptions. If "A Dangerous Method" was ever a real contender, isn't now. After a mixed response at Venice, it received a similar response in Telluride. I'd say Fassbender should look elsewhere for accolades, but "Shame" is absolutely no Oscar player.
"The Ides of March", which was a favorite amongst critics before its Venice premiere, now has a general feeling of skepticism about it. It's not that it's officially out as a contender, as it may have a more positive response in the states where people may find it more relevant. And indeed there is little negative reaction out there. It's mostly positive, but not ecstatically so. The new system is based on passionate votes, and I'm not at all sure if they'll really respond with the same passion they'd place towards something like "The Tree of Life".
What will probably draw more passion is the returning effort for director Alexander Payne, "The Descendants". It debuted at Telluride to almost unanimous praise from critics, and that'll probably be enough to push it towards a nomination. It could end up getting further buzz if it gets the audience award at Toronto, which was one of the first steps for "The King's Speech" last year. The other mild confirmation of the festival circuit, thus far, is "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". Reviews have cast into doubt Gary Oldman's potency as a lead actor contender, but it's still a strong possibility. While most raves have been that it's an ensemble effort, there have been rumblings of Tom Hardy being a potential Supp. Actor contender. Best Picture is a strong possibility, but let's not get ahead of ourselves too much.
Apologies if this column is a bit weak this week, but as much as I enjoy getting back into the swing of things, it's also very time-consuming, not to mention money-consuming. I was half-tempted to shell out the cash to visit the theaters this weekend, but then I recalled that I still have six to seven films left to see this month. Also, I'll be posting my first Oscar predictions soon enough. So there's that.