Again, the Toronto International Film Festival may be shaking up the Oscar race, this time by launching a lead pony into the lead actor race. "Barrymore" doesn't have a distributor yet, but that's likely to change now that deafening buzz has broken out after its fest debut. The Canadian indie film features Christopher Plummer reprising his 1996 Tony Award-winning role as John Barrymore late in life as he struggles to rehearse for a Broadway comeback in Shakespeare's "Richard III."
"I'm all but convinced he has the Oscar in the bag," Hollywood Elsewhere scribe Jeff Wells crowed after viewing it.
Plummer is also a contender this year for portraying a septuagenarian man who shocks his son by coming out of the closet in his waning years in "Beginners." That's a supporting role, so Plummer wouldn't compete against himself if both films end up in contention. In 2004, Jamie Foxx scored double bids, competing in supporting for "Collateral" and winning in lead for "Ray." (Oscar rules prohibit actors from receiving more than one nomination per category.)
Plummer starred in Oscar best pictures "The Sound of Music" (1965) and "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), but he was only nominated once –- for supporting actor of 2009 as dying novelist Leo Tolstoy in "The Last Station." He lost to Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds"). At least that was one more nomination than John Barrymore ever received. Even though his brother Lionel and sister Ethel won Academy Awards, John never made the list. He blamed that on his bohemian behavior, saying that Oscar voters were afraid he might show up at the ceremony drunk, adding, "And they're right!"
Below, a snippet of "Barrymore" courtesy of Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg.
Photo: Christopher Plummer at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award in January 2010. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times