'12 Years' leads strong performances at Toronto film fest

Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:18pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Judging by some early reviews, Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" will sweep the Oscars, Golden Globes and perhaps even win an honorary Olympic medal, but the film is one of just many that has impressed critics at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

And while films that generate Oscar buzz in September often fade by the time the awards are given out in February, Toronto-screened movies like "12 Years," "Gravity," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "August: Osage County" look like solid bets for awards consideration.

Toronto, along with recently wrapped festivals in Venice and Telluride, Colorado, traditionally launches movie awards season and industry pros gather here to build buzz for their films.

Some of the big titles usually disappoint, such as the unwieldy "Cloud Atlas" last year.

But judging by the critical reception at the midpoint of this year's festival, the competition for both awards and box office success over the next few months could be tight.

"I would say it's been very good overall," said Pete Hammond, columnist for website Deadline Hollywood.

Critics have been nearly falling over each other to praise "12 Years a Slave," based on an 1853 memoir of a free black man sold into slavery.

Adam B. Vary of Buzzfeed called it "the most emotionally powerful film I have seen in a decade" and predicted multiple Acadmy Award wins, while Kyle Buchanan, reviewer at New York Magazine's vulture.com platform, suggested the academy "notify the engraver."   Continued...

Actor Michael Fassbender (R) and director Steve McQueen attend a news conference for the film "12 Years A Slave" at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, September 7, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill