For the past few years, George Clooney has been an ubiquitous fixture at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2009, he greeted the crowd at an elegant seated dinner for Jason Reitman's Oscar-bound "Up in the Air" like the groom at the wedding reception, dispatching charm bombs at whomever approached, a big-name star or someone’s blushing aunt from Duluth.
In 2011, Clooney was everywhere when Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" debuted with George in a role that screamed Oscar (he didn’t get it) while his baby, the political drama "The Ides of March," which he produced, directed, wrote and co-starred in with Ryan Gosling, played to more mixed reviews.
And last fall, Clooney manned the "Argo" red carpet with Ben Affleck as one of the film’s producers, a carpet that ran all the way to an Oscar win.
This year, Clooney stars in the space thriller "Gravity" with Sandra Bullock, which last week opened the prestigious Venice Film Festival (just a coach bus ride away from to his Lake Como villa). And in his producer hat, Clooney brings the biting Meryl Streep-Julia Roberts dysfunctional family drama "August Osage County" for its Toronto debut.
But where's George? Any other year, Clooney would have been a cornerstone of the scene in downtown Toronto. Not 2013. Call it red carpet fatigue, but with another overstuffed season of awards bait – he also produced, co-wrote, directed and stars in the star-studded WWII thriller "The Monuments Men" out in December – the experienced Oscar hunter is wisely pacing himself. While the schmoozing can be fun, answering all those junket interview questions and anchoring press conferences gets very old very fast. And in the Oscar race, momentum is everything. Let the press see too much of you in September, by Christmas they'll be looking for a new flavor of the month. As it was in 2011, when Clooney ultimately lost out to the new boy on the block, Jean Dujardin of "The Artist."
So where is George? He's keeping his eye on the real prize: making another movie. He's starring in Brad Bird's Disney mystery "Tomorrowland" opposite Hugh Laurie, currently filming on the other side of Canada in Vancouver and anticipated to be ready in time for next year's Awards Season, December 2014.
Watch the trailer for George Clooney's Gravity: