TIFF 2013: A very big year for goes off mostly without incident

Will Perkins

There’s no disputing that the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival has been a good one. Boasting a line-up chockfull of head-turning performances and likely Oscar contenders, TIFF 2013 will inevitably go down as one of the biggest in the event’s 38 year history.

But despite attracting some of the most high-profile movies and most famous stars from around the world, the 2013 festival was fairly quiet compared to previous fests -- at least as far as awards season impact and big celebrity moments go. So, how does TIFF 2013 compare to past years?

Although we still don’t know which movie is going to win Toronto’s coveted People’s Choice Award, it’s possible that the honour won’t have the prescient effect (in terms of Oscar performance) its had in previous years. While ultimate Best Picture winners like “American Beauty,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “The King’s Speech” all began their road to Oscar with a People’s Choice win at TIFF, this year’s crop of potential award season winners (including “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave”) already screened at several other festivals (Venice and Telluride) before coming to Toronto.

Granted, “Slumdog” and “The King’s Speech” also played at Telluride before coming to T.O., but those films didn’t have nearly the same rapturous reception they got at TIFF a few weeks later. Telluride has grown in importance to the film industry over the past several years, robbing TIFF of some of its thunder in the process.

Sure, there were plenty of major stars at TIFF 2013, but as far as memorable celeb moments go, this year couldn’t hold a candle to previous festivals. The 2012 festival featured Kristen Stewart’s first post-scandal appearance at the Toronto premiere of “On the Road,” while 2011 featured the first public outing for George Clooney and then-girlfriend Stacy Keibler, as well as a visit by mega-couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. (Brad Pitt was at this year's festival, but without Angelina in tow, it wasn't nearly the spectacle their 2011 appearance was.)

This year saw Daniel Radcliffe gushing about hamburgers (albeit delicious ones) and Emma Thompson goofing around on the red carpet. Charming, yes, but not quite in the same league.

More newsworthy were the movies and A-listers that didn’t show up to TIFF 2013. Many expected potential Oscar contenders like the Tom Hanks thriller “Captain Phillips” and Spike Jonze’s “Her” to be a part of this year’s line-up (the latter film was previewed but didn’t screen publicly). Other high-profile flicks that were TIFF no-shows include Terry Gilliam’s highly anticipated sci-fi feature “Zero Theorem,” starring double Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz, and Spike Lee’s remake of the cult Korean revenge film “Oldboy,” starring Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen.

There were also a number of notable stars who missed out on TIFF this year. Despite starring in one of the most anticipated films of the fest, “Gravity” star George Clooney skipped Toronto due to shooting commitments he’d made to Brad Bird’s upcoming sci-fi film “Tomorrowland” (the movie is currently filming in British Columbia). However, the “Tomorrowland” shoot didn’t keep the actor (famed for his love of Italy) from attending the “Gravity” premiere at the Venice International Film Festival a few weeks ago. Curious.

Also noticeably absent was “August: Osage County” star Meryl Streep, who missed out on the film’s TIFF premiere due to illness. Thankfully co-star Julia Roberts and the rest of the film’s cast showed up in Toronto, so it wasn’t a total bust.

TIFF 2013 was still a banner year for movies and moviegoers, and both critics and audiences seem to agree that it was one of the best film festivals the city has ever seen. Who needs controversy or celebrity drama when you've got the biggest stars and greatest movies on the planet concentrated in one place for a few days?

The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sept. 15.

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