×

Oscars, Dan Rather & George W. Bush: ‘Truth’ is Beauty in Toronto

One of the great pleasures of awards season is discovering a film that was low on the radar, with little advance hype, but turns out to be an Oscar contender in multiple categories. “Truth” is one of those films, a real gem of the current Toronto Film Festival.

James Vanderbilt makes an impressive directing debut, scripting from Mary Mapes’ book about her 2004 “60 Minutes II” story with Dan Rather. They had alleged that cronies in the 1970s helped George W. Bush enlist in the National Guard to avoid Vietnam, further claiming he was basically AWOL most of the time. Bush was President up for re-election when the story aired; within 24 hours, the old-style news team was stunned because the then-burgeoning internet exploded with skeptics who questioned every detail of the report.

It’s going to be a hot-button movie, with online haters already blasting the film without seeing it, while general audiences are likely to embrace it and ignore the noise. It’s not really a political film, but more about the digital age we’ve entered, and about eternal questions like loyalty, betrayal and how elusive “hard facts” can be. As the title indicates, it’s about truth.

Cate Blanchett is outstanding as Mapes. As good as Blanchett is in this year’s “Carol,” she’s even better in “Truth,” as a woman who’s smart, gutsy, and always vulnerable, in the kind of role (and performance) that awards-voters love.

Robert Redford is excellent as Rather, capturing the voice and attitude; it’s one icon playing another. Redford deserves supporting-actor accolades, with only two challenges: There is stiff competition this year and the actor once again takes a difficult role and makes it look easy.

Vanderbilt and his entire team do terrific work. The film will reignite the Rather-Bush debate; the “60 Minutes II” report hit a nerve about the media, spin and political bias. The furor around the film won’t be that intense, but the veracity questions will resurface. However, the louder conversation is likely to be about the filmmakers’ skills.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content