Now that you’ve seen the official TIFF awards, here are a few of my own. . .
Best debut by a new festival co-director: Cameron Bailey, who introduced movies with exemplary aplomb, wit, charisma and verve, while maintaining a steely neutrality through the obligatory incantation of the sponsors’ names.
Best celebrity escape artist: Gael Garcia Bernal who vanished on the evening of the Blindness premiere. A publicist eventually found him at the bar in the Pilot Tavern, and hustled him off to the red carpet on time.
Best fan hysteria: the thousands of screaming Koreans who packed Roy Thompson hall to see The Good, The Bad and The Weird, and greeted its stars as if they were the Beatles.
Best gratuitous male nudity: David Foley’s butt in full-screen close-up as his character makes a cheesy home porn video in Cooper’s Camera.
Best Oscar-buzzed performance by an actor you’d never guess was capable of it: Mickey Rourke, as as sensitive body-slammer in The Wrestler.
Best Oscar-buzzed performance by an actress you’d never guess was capable of it: Anne Hathaway as a rehab refugee creating havoc at her sister’s wedding in Rachel Getting Married.
Best Oscar-buzzed performance by an actress we’ve never heard of: Rosemarie De Witt as the frazzled bride in Rachel Getting Married.
Best Oscar-buzzed performance by an actress daring to look dowdy and drab: the pallid Kirstin Scott Thomas in Il y a longtemps que je t’aime.
Best revenge for Borat by an actor going beyond the call of duty in Kazakhstan: Askhat Kuchinchirekov laboriously pulling a lamb out of a sheep’s womb in Tulpan.
Best performance by an actor playing himself: Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD
Best gratuitous over-acting by an actor who should have just played himself: Brad Pitt trying too hard to show he was better than his moronic character in Burn After Reading, as if he didn’t realize why the Coen brothers cast him in the first place.
Best excuse for changing the subject in a discussion of Sarah Palin: Renée Zellweger who told me that talking about the vice-presidential nominee was giving her a rash.
Best act of gratuitous offscreen violence: New York Post movie critic Lou Lumenick whacking poor Roger Ebert with a program after Ebert, who is mute from throat cancer treatment, tapped Lumenick on the shoulder because Lumenick was blocking his view of the subtitles in Slumdog Millionaire.
Best assault on celebrities: Moby cranking up the music at the Blindness party to ear-splitting volume and aiming the speakers at the VIP area, causing the stars of the movie to flee.
Best hoax by a director introducing his film: Bruce McDonald, explaining in meticulous detail how he spent $10 million on Pontypool—even the programmer believed him when he claimed he used his budget surplus to digitally place a hat on his lead actor’s head in all his scenes. The film actually cost closer to $1.5 million, and was shot mostly in one room, and Bruce was just stalling for time while waiting for the print to arrive.
Best performance by a film unfairly snubbed by a previous TIFF jury: Amal (2007), which has won 20 awards at 20 other festivals, all of them for wither best film or most popular film. Amal is playing in 14 cinemas across the country, and it’s continuing to expand its reach. Now that TIFF is vacating Toronto upscale Varsity Cinema, Amal is being invited back, and it’s soon opening in suburban Mississauga, where (like Water) it’s expected to draw a strong East Indian immigrant audience. Now producer David Miller is hoping Canada will nominated Amal as its foreign language entry for the Oscars.
Best party moment punk high-priestess Patti Smith, jet-lagged after flying in from Moscow, playing a solo unplugged set for fashion victims at Loblaws’ Joe Fresh party in the Gardiner museum restaurant (She was in town to promote a documentary biopic that TIFF had turned down.)
Best musical performance by a movie star: Viggo Mortensen, idling away an afternoon at the piano in the lobby of Sutton Place Hotel.
Best meal that we wish we hadn’t missed: The dinner for Hunger