LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s annual awards season may be months away yet, but for many the race for Oscars gold has already started, with strong contenders emerging from key film festivals this month.
While it is too early to talk of frontrunners unlike last year when “12 Years a Slave” established itself early in awards season — several movies and actors are already generating buzz in Tinsel town.
Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch and Reese Witherspoon are among the performances already tipped, while unique coming-of-age drama “Boyhood” is among films being talked about as possible nominees.
“Summer is over … it’s back to school and it’s become so for the Academy” of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the annual Oscars show in February, said Glenn Williamson of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
Three key festivals — Venice, Telluride and Toronto — have this year overlapped, with the industry descending on Italy from Aug 27-Sept 6, Telluride from Sept 4-7 and Canada from Sept 4-14.
Last year harrowing historical drama “12 Years a Slave” by British director Steve McQueen, which went on to win the best picture Oscar in March this year, made a huge splash at Telluride.
It was then presented in Toronto where it took the People’s Choice Award, before sweeping a string of awards season prizes on its way to Hollywood’s highest accolade, the Academy Award.
Telluride has become increasingly important in gaining awards momentum over the last decade, notably because lots of the Academy’s 6,000 or so voting members go there, said Williamson.
He recalled that the buzz around “The King’s Speech,” which went on to win the best picture Oscar in 2011, had begun in the small Colorado village.
“Very good movies go to Toronto too,” and secure crucial media coverage at a festival known as a serious venue for negotiations for financing and distribution.
“It’s a bit more towards business,” he said, adding: “Venice is also a big splashy opportunity to get publicity about films.”