Yesterday, Roger Ebert made a bold prediction when he wrote on his blog “The winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture will be Ben Affleck’s tense new thriller “Argo.” He bases it on three facts: First, TIFF has long been known as the awards season’s major launchpad. Second, the last five best picture winners have all been TIFF favorites, and third, this year’s darling is unquestionably Argo, Affleck’s harrowing, based-on-a-true-story about a CIA agent who fakes a B-movie production to rescue a group of hostages in Iran. A simple, linear equation right?
But what Ebert failed to consider, or at least mention, is the unknown variable that is Steven Spielberg’s hotly anticipated biopic Lincoln, which opens wide on November 16th. We’ve just seen the teaser for the trailer (yeah, they do that now), and the silhouette of Daniel Day-Lewis’ commander-in-chief is enough for a nomination. Factor in a screenplay by Pulitzer-prize winner Tony Kushner, and a cast laden with former Oscar winners and nominees, and Spielberg’s historical opus seems primed for a February 24th showdown with Argo. And though the Toronto lovefest for Affleck’s thriller has been unanimous (today’s final press screening was packed with a raucous crowd that showered it with applause), other TIFF entries, like David O. Russell’s affecting Silver Linings Playbook, and PT Anderson’s unnerving psychodrama The Master have an outside shot at stealing the coveted People’s Choice Award from Argo’s seemingly firm grasp, and plunging themselves into best picture contention. We look very forward to another seven—yes seven—months of this.