That's a wrap on TIFF21: The highs and lows, Oscar buzz and scandals

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TIFF 21 officially ends Saturday night after fewer stars, small indoor red carpets, and both digital and in-person screenings with physically-distanced seating, mask-wearing, and double vaccination proof for the latter required given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s the best (and worst) from your truly:

OSCAR BUZZ: The Power Of The Dog, an atmospheric, 1925-set western from Jane Campion — who just picked up best director in Venice — which will likely get Oscar nods for best picture, director, adapted screenplay, cinematography, and Johnny Greenwood’s menacing score.

A best actor nomination is due too for Benedict Cumberbatch’s riveting portrayal of an unlikeable rancher who torments his brother’s new wife (real-life couple Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst) and child (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who should get a supporting actor mention.

Kenneth Branagh’s ultra-personal and often funny film, Belfast, mostly shot in stunning black-and-white, is likely to get nominations for best picture, screenplay, cinematography, and supporting actor/actress nods for Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench, who play the grandparents of newly-discovered lead Jude Hill, who plays Branagh as a young boy in 1969.

Director Kenneth Branagh, right, and actor Jamie Dornan walk the red carpet as they promote the film “Belfast” during the Toronto International Film Festival, in Toronto, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Dune, an epic otherworldly visual feast will likely clean up in every technical category, plus Quebec director Denis Villeneuve will get a directing nod.

There’s got to be a best actress nomination too for Kristen Stewart in the fictional, fable-like Spencer, about Princess Diana’s last Christmas with the Royals at Sandringham with its mist-filled cinematography and Greenwood’s striking score likely to cinch nominations too.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye will net an almost unrecognizable Jessica Chastain a best actress nod in the starring role, as well as her equally committed co-star Andrew Garfield as Jim Bakker for best actor, and Cherry Jones as her disapproving mother for best supporting actress.

Clifton Collins Jr., is a dark horse, forgive the pun, as a best actor Oscar contender too in Jockey, about an aging race horse rider with Canada’s Molly Parker as his horse’s trainer who could also get a supporting actress nod.

SCANDALS: Ottawa’s own Alanis Morissette disavowed her documentary, Jagged, for which she is interviewed through out..

In Alison Klayman’s movie, Morissette – now 47 – talks about being a 15-year-old pop star in Canada who was taken advantage of by various men who remain unnamed, saying it was statutory rape.

In a statement, Morissette said partly: “(The filmmakers) salacious agenda became apparent immediately upon my seeing the first cut of the film. This is when I knew our visions were in fact painfully diverged.”

Otherwise, The Power of The Dog and The Guilty apparently showed up on pirate sites after being shown digitally, and a possible COVID-19 exposure was reported at three press and industry screenings.

Sigourney Weaver walks the red carpet as she promotes the film “The Good House” during the Toronto International Film Festival, on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.
FILMS: My favourites were The Year of The Dog, Belfast and Dune, but then there were those quiet little movies that packed a big punch.

The aforementioned Jockey, the French mother-daughter film Petite Maman; the Polish drama Silent Land, the British film True Things with the always excellent Ruth Wilson, The Guilty starring Jake Gyllenhaal in a ultra-tense remake of the Danish film, and the spooky Irish horror film, You Are Not My Mother.

Films that disappointed despite winning lead performances were plentiful like the post-war British drama Mothering Sunday (Josh O’ Connor, Odessa Young), the Hollywood-executive-in-hell story Violet (Olivia Munn), the slow-moving, “what’s that sound?” mystery Memoria (Tilda Swinton); and the scattered family dramedy The Good House (Sigourney Weaver).

Until next year, TIFF!