Oscar hopes unclear for ‘Cloud Atlas’ after TIFF premiere

Cloud Atlas,” the epic rendering of David Mitchell‘s 2004 bestseller by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis, was greeted with a lengthy standing ovation when it unspooled at the Toronto film festival Saturday. However, it confounded several of the Oscar prognosticators on the scene. 


This time travel gender-bending drama showcases two Oscar champs — two-time Best Actor winner Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia, 1993; “Forrest Gump,” 1994) and 2001 Best Actress Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) — in six roles each. Their elaborate makeup and costumes are sure to contend but beyond that, it may need a box office bounty when it is released Oct. 26 to be a major contender at the Oscars. 

As Scott Feinberg (The Hollywood Reporter) says, “I can’t say that I loved the sum of its parts, but I was still blown away by many of the parts themselves: the performances, though it’s hard to single out any one or two actors when everyone had so much to do; the editing by master juggler Alexander Berner; art direction/production designers, who must have felt like they were responsible for many movies; visual effects, coordinated by a team of more than 100; and especially the makeup — anyone who can make Hanks look like himself in ‘Castaway,’ Mike Myers in ‘Austin Powers,’ Russell Crowe in ‘Gladiator’ and Elton John all in one film, deserves heaps of praise. I suspect that Oscar voters will feel similarly.” 

Writes Steve Pond (The Wrap), “Warners may be able to sell the movie on the basis of stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant, but the film is bound to be divisive, and I fully expect some reviews to be savage. But for my money, any movie that finds me filling a page in my notebook with a litany of adjectives that includes messy, incomprehensible, glorious, silly, pompous, fun, wonderful, ludicrous and spectacular makes for three hours well spent – even if at times during those hours I wondered why I’d gotten up early.

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And Sean O’Connell (Cinema Blend) says, “While I’m not whole-heartedly in love with ‘Atlas’ (though the sentimental chords finally struck in the sprawling film’s closing minutes did touch me, deeply), I am in love with the creative effort and bravura filmmaking that infuses every single scene. It is an ambitious work of art, and one that should be appreciated outside of the festival circuit, when audiences have time to digest a meal such as this and not wash it down with a swig of water before dashing to the next screening.” 

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