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Toronto Film Fest: Early Oscar Buzz

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The teenage girls wouldn’t stop screaming when Orlando Bloom arrived at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday night for the screening of his new flick, Haven. And the 27-year-old Brit star of The Lord of the Rings series and Troy didn’t disappoint, stopping for a lengthy autograph-signing and picture-taking session before scooting into the theater.

Bloom, whose visibility (and bankability) is rising nicely in Hollywood, did double duty on the Cayman Islands-set thriller, both acting and producing. He’s in Toronto spreading the charm – and shopping for a distribution deal.

That’s not the case with some of the more anticipated films among the 254 features unspooling at this year’s festival, which began last Thursday and continues through Saturday. The annual Toronto gathering has become increasingly important because it is seen as Hollywood’s unofficial launching pad for Oscar hopefuls.

Potential Academy Award contenders generating buzz in Toronto (and due to open in the United States in the coming months) include:

Jamie Foxx gives a dynamic and accomplished performance as the title character in an entertaining biopic about Ray Charles, the great soul singer who died earlier this year.

Being Julia
Annette Bening shows comic flair as an English actress of a certain age who has a lusty affair with a younger man in this period comedy based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham.

Hotel Rwanda
Many critics are calling Don Cheadle extraordinary as a hotel executive who turns hero during the massacres in Rwanda. The movie is based on a true story.

Liam Neeson turns in a forceful performance in a bracing and often amusing biopic about Alfred Kinsey, the scientist who was the first to quantify Americans’ sexual habits.

House of Flying Daggers
Taking early bets on Best Foreign Film? Expect at least a nomination for this sensational martial arts epic from China by director Zhang Yimou, who helmed Hero, starring Jet Li.

And finally, the latest festival trend: The cell phone wars have begun. Two moviegoers almost came to blows Friday when one man’s phone went off in the middle of a crucial scene during a screening of Enduring Love, a terrific British film starring Daniel Craig and Samantha Morton. The gentleman seated in front of Mr. Important Call berated the offender loudly and profanely, repeatedly demanding that he depart the premises immediately. Then on Saturday, there was much moaning and groaning during a screening of Kinsey when someone’s cell phone started playing “The Mexican Hat Dance.”