"Argo," "Silver Linings" lead Toronto buzz; business simmers

Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:34pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ben Affleck's political thriller "Argo" and David O. Russell's comedic drama "Silver Linings Playbook" are winning widespread praise at the midpoint of the Toronto International Film Festival, with early sluggish sales beginning to pick up.

Toronto, along with recent festivals in Venice and Telluride, traditionally launches the movie industry's major awards season. Some of the more hyped films heading into the festival have won over critics and audiences, while others have divided film buffs, suggesting possible box office and awards disappointments.

"A bunch of titles go in with hype and then only a couple of them really deliver," said David Laub, co-president of New York based indie film distribution company Oscilloscope.

Laub cited "Argo," and "Silver Linings Playbook" as gaining early awards buzz among the bigger premieres so far. "Now they start their journey to the Oscars - and then some are a bit more muted," he said.

Those that so far haven't quite lived up to their high expectations include several of the eagerly anticipated literary adaptations - "Anna Karenina" and "Midnight's Children" - while "Cloud Atlas," co-directed by Tom Tykwer and "The Matrix Trilogy" sibling team, divided critics with its complex multiple storylines.

OSCAR HOPES

"Argo," starring and directed by Ben Affleck, is considered one of the safer bets for awards nominations, including one of the 10 best film Oscar slots and a possible directing nod for Affleck's third effort in a turn away from previous Boston stories "The Town," and "Gone Baby Gone."

Affleck, 40, whose film tells the true story of how the CIA helped smuggle six American diplomats out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis using a fake Hollywood production, declined to speculate about award potential and whether a film that both pokes fun of and celebrates Hollywood might appeal more than usual to Oscar voters.   Continued...

 
Actor and director Ben Affleck attends a news conference to promote the film 'Argo' during the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, September 8, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill