Picks and Pans Review: Oscar Warm-up? the Toronto Film Festival

UPDATED 09/25/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/25/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

>Every fall Hollywood uses the Toronto Film Festival (Sept. 7-16) as a launching pad for movies it hopes will fly high come awards time. Here is Leah Rozen's guide to festival hits—and misses

SECOND TIME AROUND If you saw Capote last year, expect to experience déjà vu with Infamous. Like the previous, Oscar-nominated film, it reveals how novelist Truman Capote came to write his nonfiction masterpiece In Cold Blood. Here, British actor Toby Jones plays an impish Capote and Sandra Bullock is impressive as his pal Harper Lee. And it's pretty good—just not quite as good as the 2005 version. Opens Oct. 13.

DON'T MAKE US SAY IT AGAIN Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is the pause-for-breath title of an outrageously rude and crude comedy starring English funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen (of HBO's Da Ali G Show). The laughs never stop as his character, a TV reporter from Kazakhstan, travels across the U.S. in hopes of meeting Pamela Anderson. Borat arrives Nov. 3.

NOTHING TO CROWE ABOUT The last time Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott teamed, they made the Oscar-winning Gladiator. Together again for A Good Year, the result is a fluffy comedy about an Englishman who inherits a French villa and vineyard. It's palatable plonk in a fancy bottle. Year uncorks Nov. 10.

PAGING OSCAR For Your Consideration, a hilarious comedy from director Christopher Guest (Best in Show), centers on actors caught up in Oscar hype. But Catherine O'Hara is so spot-on as a pathetic hopeful—wait until you see her character's post-facelift look—that she actually deserves consideration come nomination time. Starts Nov. 17.

OUT OF AFRICA Political unrest in Africa provides the focus of the inspiring Catch a Fire and energetic The Last King of Scotland. Derek Luke gives a powerful performance in the first, playing a real-life South African driven to battle apartheid after being falsely arrested. In King, Forest Whitaker cuts loose in a mesmerizing turn as Ugandan despot Idi Amin. Fire is due Oct. 27; King, Sept. 27.

To see more of your favorite celebs at the film fest, go to www.people.com/toronto

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