Toronto: World Premieres Launch Oscar Talk for Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Murphy and Michael B. Jordan

The Toronto Film Festival is once again buzzing with Oscar talk. While many of this awards season’s contenders had already screened at Venice and/or Telluride, TIFF featured several world premieres that added to this year’s race to the Dolby Theater on Feb. 9.

Jennifer Lopez has been a frequent presenter at the Oscars, but she could be heading into the 2020 Academy Awards as a first-time nominee. She’s getting the best reviews of her career for her work as Ramona, a longtime stripper who hatches a scheme to scam Wall Street types out of their money.

Lopez could be this year’s Lady Gaga, but STX has its work cut out to get to voters watch “Hustlers” and understand that the movie isn’t just another “Striptease” or “Showgirls.”

Lopez would likely be put up for supporting so she wouldn’t have to compete for lead against contenders like Renee Zellweger (“Judy”), Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story) and Meryl Streep (“Laundromat”).

Writer-director Lorene Scafaria could also garner nominations, especially after being lauded with comparisons to Martin Scorsese.

“Just Mercy”
Michael B. Jordan’s work as social justice attorney Bryan Stevenson could land him his first Oscar nomination. Jamie Foxx as a death row inmate seeking exoneration after spending six years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit is a stronger contender for supporting actor, as is Rob Morgan, who plays a fellow prisoner sentenced to death.

“Dolemite Is My Name
Not only does the Netflix biopic of 1970s comedian Rudy Ray Moore mark Eddie Murphy’s return to the big screen, but it could garner him his second nomination 13 years after he was up for supporting actor for “Dreamgirls.” Wesley Snipes could also get in there for his portrayal of actor and director D’urville Martin.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
It’s no surprise that Tom Hanks’s portrayal of legendary children’s television host Fred Rogers could land him his sixth Oscar nomination. He already has two statuettes at home, but the last time he was nominated was 19 years ago for “Cast Away.”

“Jojo Rabbit”
Taika Waititi’s comedy about Hitler and Nazi Germany may sound risky for these politically correct times, but the audience at the world premiere screening on Sunday night ate it all up and then some. Laughter boomed throughout the Princess of Wales Theater. However, it’s hard to tell if that excitement will translate to awards recognition. Mixed reviews don’t help either.

“Bad Education”
Beloved Oscar host Hugh Jackman didn’t appear at TIFF, but he sure got a lot of attention for his starring role in crime drama “Bad Education.” However, the film is still looking for U.S. distribution.

John Conroy’s adaptation of Donna Tartt’s best-selling novel was one of the most anticipated films at the festival. While interest was high, enthusiasm seemed to fizzle as the days went on. Word of mouth could kill its chances of becoming a bona fide contender.

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Tom Hanks Mr Rogers A BEAUTIFUL

    Tom Hanks' Portrayal of Mister Rogers May Put Him Back in Oscar's 'Neighborhood'

    Sony recently hosted a SAG-AFTRA screening of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Marielle Heller-directed drama starring Matthew Rhys as a magazine writer who befriends Fred Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. While the screening didn’t include a guild Q&A with cast or the film’s creative team, the audience was greeted with a video message from [...]

  • Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese,

    Martin Scorsese and 'The Irishman' Enter Oscar Race With World Premiere at NYFF

    Even with its three-hour run time and a short 28 days in theaters before it’s available on Netflix, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” is likely to be a major contender at the Oscars. The 57th New York Film Festival opened on Friday night with the world premiere of the epic real-life mob drama. Scorsese and his [...]

  • Brad Pitt Once Upon a Time

    How Much Does Hitting the Awards Season Circuit Really Matter to Stars Like Brad Pitt?

    “Do you want an Oscar?” That’s the first question one top awards consultant asks any potential contender when they first start talking. Everyone is wondering how Brad Pitt would answer that question these days. He recently raised eyebrows and made headlines when he proclaimed that he would not be campaigning this awards season. “Oh, man. I’m [...]

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renée Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content