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Toronto talks Oscar, but do movie fans listen?

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hathaway.jpgA lot of buzz at the Toronto film festival inevitably is about which movies may compete for Oscars as Hollywood begins its months-long campaign for film honors that often — although not always — bring stars fame and movie studios money.

Taken together with film festivals in Venice and Telluride, Colorado, which annually occur in late August and early September, the Toronto event is a key Oscar campaign launch site. But sometimes the movies suffer a critical backlash if they are too widely hyped. Other times critics jump on a movie’s bandwagon and propel the film forward.

A few titles winning early praise here at Toronto, mostly for their performances include: Mickey Rourke as a washed up professional wrestler being urged to make a comeback in a big match in “The Wrestler”; Anne Hathaway playing a drug abusing woman who checks out of rehab to attend her sister’s wedding in “Rachel Getting Married”; and Greg Kinnear portraying the man who invents the intermittent windshield wiper and must battle automakers over his patent in “Flash of Genius.”

 There is little doubt that singer Alicia Keys will garner a lot of media attention for a supporting part in coming-of-age wrestler.jpgdrama “The “Secret Life of Bees,” as will the film’s star, young Dakota Fanning. But whether critics and Oscar voters adore the overall film seems to be a tossup among the film pundits here at the Toronto festival. Two films that clearly have stood out in the early festivals are “The Wrestler,” directed by Darren Aronofsky, and “Slumdog Millionaire” from director Danny Boyle, telling of young Indian boy who aims to be a millionaire by competing on a TV game show.

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