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With TIFF in the rearview, we take a look at the possible Oscar-race contenders




Jennifer Lawrence stars in director Darren Aronofsky's
Jennifer Lawrence stars in director Darren Aronofsky's "Mother!"

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Vulture Senior Editor Kyle Buchanan is back from an epic week at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It's one of three fall festivals known to be launching platforms for the best films that will hit theaters — and streaming services — between now and the end of the year. And these festivals often host the premiere of the eventual Oscar best picture winner.

Buchanan joined The Frame's John Horn, who covered the Telluride Film Festival earlier in the year, to compare notes on how the fall film season is shaping up.

Conversation highlights:

Heading towards an awards season of woman-led stories:

Buchanan: That was the number one thing that I was struck by at these fall film festivals is what a surplus of female-fronted stories we got.

Horn: Those are words that we don't typically get to say!

Buchanan: No, and a lot of the time, there's a disconnect when it comes to Oscars season between the movies that are in contention for best picture and get nominated, and the movies that get a best actress nomination. A lot of the really worthy female-led stories crop up in best actress, but it's still the same macho bluster in best picture. I think that might be different this year.

Horn: I would put Jennifer Lawrence in "Mother!" on that list. I would also put Saoirse Ronan in "Ladybird," which is Greta Gerwig's vaguely, loosely autobigraphical story about a young woman in Sacramento who's a high school senior, who just knows there's something better for her just beyond her grasp.
Buchanan: There were a whole lot of woman-led that popped, especially at Toronto. There was "Molly's Game," Aaron Sorkin's movie about the poker maestro Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain. "I, Tonya" is a biopic of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding with Margot Robbie playing her. That was one of the most talked about movies in the festival - expect Margot to be hitting the campaign trail. But really expect Allison Janey, who was a force to be reckoned with as Tonya Harding's evil mother, to be perhaps the frontrunner as best supporting actress. I also really liked Emma Stone in "Battle of the Sexes" and Frances McDormand, who's incredible in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." There is a lot to choose from.

This year's best picture winner has likely already premiered:

Buchanan: I think that films like "The Shape of Water" and films that came out earlier this year, like "Dunkirk," are probably the best situated. And yeah, some frontrunners like Gary Oldman in best actor are starting to form. But nothing overwhelming has happened yet, so I'm curious to see how it shakes out... I would say all but two of the eventual best picture [nominees] have screened at these film festivals. I think you'd have to go back quite a while to find a best picture winner that had not screened at this point.

And Gary Oldman is a surprisingly convincing Winston Churchill:

Buchanan: I think his performance is undeniable, and an incredible transformation. He's buried under prosthetics that I have to say look incredibly normal and lifelike. I didn't think who is this weird, garish balloon figure the whole time. I thought, that is Winston Churchill. And then had to periodically remind myself, it's also Gary Oldman! Who I never would have expected to be buried under all that makeup.



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