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Warner Bros.’ “Our Brand is Crisis” is about politics-as-big-business, the pervasiveness of marketing/spin and about personal redemption — but what it’s really about is star power. Sandra Bullock joins the Oscar race with a terrific performance that features both big, juicy scenes and quiet moments. Best of all, it reminds that she is that rare star-actor who is capable of showing new layers of talent with each film.

“Our Brand” screened at the Princess of Wales theater on the second night of the Toronto Fest, and Bullock told the audience that the role had been written for a man, but she asked producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov to consider changing it to a woman. “George could have played the role, but maybe I could have played it better,” she deadpanned.

Clooney added that the shift in the script was surprisingly easy, and “it made us realize that there could be a lot more (male-written) roles out there” that could/should be rescripted for women.

Clooney and Heslov had seen the Rachel Boynton-directed 2005 documentary of the same title, and commissioned Peter Straughan to write a script that fictionalized the events, but retained the premise of U.S. political strategists working on a Bolivian election. Once Bullock got the eight-years-in-development project in motion, they signed on director David Gordon Green.

Green said he likes working with actors, and enjoyed their improvs, such as on a bus sequence. An audience member asked if the rear end sticking out of the bus window was really Bullock’s, which inspired some quips from her and Clooney on the topic of tushes, joking that it was really his bum doubling for hers.

In contrast with past years, the best actress Oscar race has more serious contenders than usual, but Bullock’s stellar turn is certainly a hot contender. The film opens domestically in October.