Written by Sarah

Amidst all the Emmys crazy, let’s take a moment to assess TIFF 2011 and see where we’re at early in the awards race. When I previewed TIFF I made some predictions—let’s check in with those as well.

2011 is shaping up to be a director’s year, I think. The buzz out of TIFF (and Telluride, held the weekend before), is largely about filmmakers, not actors. I think we’re going to see a tight director’s race and more even, winnable actors races—though Best Actress is shaping up to be a contest between Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady). Ralph Fiennes got mixed reviews with his adaptation of Coriolanus, but tackling one of Shakespeare’s densest, toughest texts and making something reasonably tractable out of it will probably be good for a nod at least at the Golden Globes, if not also with Oscar. And dare I say it…Gerard Butler could be a surprise nominee for it as well (as supporting actor). Coriolanus is especially sexy this year since Anonymous, Roland Emmerich’s stab at cohesive filmmaking, is all about the authorship debate. It’s been a while since Shakespeare has gotten some Academy love, and this year we could both celebrate one of his greatest works and also say he didn’t write it. Emmerich received decent notice for Anonymous, and there’s some buzz building for its star, Rhys Ifans, but he seriously wounded his odds on this side of the pond by being a drunk brat at Comic Con (allegedly).

Speaking of wounded odds… Michael Fassbender shot himself in the foot by punking out on A Dangerous Method’s press at TIFF. The first announcement was that he wouldn’t be at TIFF, full stop. Then it was amended to say he’d be late because he was staying in Venice to accept his award for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival (for Shame). David Cronenberg, Method’s director, was reportedly fuming that The Fassbender bailed on him, and everyone put it down to bad management on Fassbender’s part. Eehh. Maybe that’s part of it. I wonder if there’s a more personal reason behind it. The Fassbender isn’t a newbie kid to be led around by his manager; he’d have to understand there would be repercussions. Method didn’t get the rousing welcome I expected it to—a lot of critics expressed disappointment with it. Cronenberg can be great but he can also crap out turds (see also: eXistenZ), and he’s due to sh*t the bed sometime soon. That said, for all the complaining about it, it seems like Method is still eliciting generally positive reviews which means Cronenberg has built up a lot of goodwill in the last few years and/or it’s not that bad.

As for Shame, it won more rave reviews coming off a strong showing at Venice. The Fassbender is an early favorite for a Best Actor nomination, and George Clooney and Brad Pitt also got strong notice for The Descendants and Moneyball respectively. We’re looking at a very, very handsome nominee roster come January. Ryan Gosling, however, will likely be left off yet again. He’s phenomenal in Drive, and took positive reviews in Clooney’s The Ides of March, but he makes everything look so freaking easy that I think he’ll be overlooked this year. Amidst a naked Fass Ass, Clooney and Pitt making serious bids, and Brit picks like Ifans and Fiennes stalking, The Gos will get buried.

Predictions: Given the off reviews for Method, I no longer think Cronenberg pulls too many, if any, nominations for it. And The Fassbender definitely won’t be campaigning for it, deciding to go with Shame instead, and the director who made him famous, Steve McQueen (who is having a breakout year of his own). McQueen and Drive’s Nicolas Winding Refn are strong contenders for Best Director. I still think Fiennes has a shot there, too, just because it’s SHAKESPEARE and it’s CORIOLANUS and he made SENSE of it. Roland Emmerich will be an outside shot simply because he has a sh*t filmmaking stigma to overcome, but given the sexiness (if completely dumb*ss) nature of the authorship debate, he could ride the “controversy” to the Kodak (where I imagine Fiennes would stab him with a pencil).

Early Best Actor candidates include Clooney, Pitt and Fassbender, as expected, but I don’t think The Gos can get it done on either of his strong performances. Drive is probably right out for everything except directing. Gary Oldman will likely be in for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but I’m not sure he’ll campaign as hard as Pitt and Clooney. The Best Actress race is loose, too, with Close and Streep leading but Rachel Weisz made a strong show with The Deep Blue Sea. Vanessa Redgrave has two solid chances at Supporting Actress with Coriolanus and Anonymous, which is ironic. And Elizabeth Olsen definitely seems like a shoo-in on the “well we have to nominate someone young” ticket.

Oh, and Tinker Tailor Solider Spy? Early on, it’s the clearest challenger to Alexander Payne and The Descendants.