TIFF: Thumbs Up for Anonymous and The Artist

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I watched two more winners today at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Anonymous will no doubt create endless debates but also cause plenty of cheers when it is released on Friday, Oct. 28. You can literally count up the Oscar nominations as the movie progresses—it gets better with each passing minute.

The concept is incredibly scandalous: Shakespeare was not only a fraud but a blackmailer, a probable murderer and an all-around S.O.B. But the execution of the conceit is first-rate. With a great script from John Orloff (Band of Brothers) and expert direction from Roland Emmerich (2012), the movie is epic. Vanessa Redgrave plays Queen Elizabeth 1 and is out of the gate as the first sure bet for an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. In a nice touch, Redgrave shares her role as Elizabeth 1 with her own daughter Joely Richardson, who plays Elizabeth in her younger years.

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But so far, the real gem for me has to be The Artist, a love letter to Hollywood's golden years.

The Artist a French production and is even a silent film, a perfect way to tell the story of a huge movie star who loses his lustre when silent films become pushed out by talkies. It's a bit of A Star Is Born, a touch of Citizen Kane and a smidge of Singing in the Rain. The leading man, Jean Dujardin, whose toothy grin rivals a piano keyboard, is really something. No wonder he won this year's Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. I smiled through the whole film, and each time I think of it, I smile again.

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