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Greeted by a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival, Luca Guadagnino's Call Me by Your Name, shot in English but set in 1980s Lombardy, looks like the most hopeful among the Italian films running this year's Oscar race. Up for nominations in the main categories, but not for Best Foreign Language Film as per regulations, "The Hollywood Reporter" considers the film as a strong candidate for the Toronto Audience Award, traditionally a launching pad for the Oscars. The film should not be overlooked in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories either, besides the actor perfomances by Armie Hammer and surprising newcomer Timothée Chalamet, which could earn a nomination even only for the film's final scene, as suggested by THR's Michael Stuhlbarg. "The Toronto Star" goes as far as defining it "one of the best films ever done about love intoxication. Note down this name, Timothée Chalamet. And now note it down again."

"Deadline" highlights the film's enthusiastic reception, even warmer than that already received at Sundance last January. It further comments that "Sony Picture Classics have high hopes for the Oscars." It's hard to hear comments that are less than enthusiastic. For instance, "Vogue" film critic considers Call Me by Your Name, "possibly the best film I've seen this year, so delicate and deep, featuring an excellent performance by Hammer, who has never been this good."

Another Italian film, shot in English and set in the US, was very much awaited in Toronto, after a positive reception from the Italian press in Venice, and a less positive one from the international press: Paolo Virzì's The Leisure Seeker, starring Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren. Following the applauses at its two official screenings, here are some comments from the critics. "The Wrap" defines it as an "effective tale on how things are getting out of our hands." "The Economist" loved the film, which considers "rich, lively, surprising, and touching. Sutherland will rightly receive an honorary Oscar, but his performance deserves a Best Actor nomination, too." "The Hollywood News" underlines that it is "a road movie from the beginning to the end, a comedy that mostly delivers, but that also includes more than one foreseeable and generic moment. A perfect film for the Neflix kind of viewers: easy to watch, but easily forgettable in the end." Like Guadagnino, The Leisure Seeker will be released in the US by Sony Pictures Classics, with some award hopes for the two protagonists.

Before its Italian premiere already announced at the Rome Film Festival, Rainbow by the Taviani brothers had its world premiere in Toronto. Adapted from the novel by Beppe Fenoglio, the film tells the story of a partisan (Luca Marinelli) torn between the fight in the Resistance and his obsession for a woman. Premiering in the section dedicated to Cinema Masters, the film has been defined by "The Hollywood Reporter", "at once a summing-up of the Tavianis’ filmmaking and an affirmation of their unshaken belief that human life is an uneasy compromise between the private and political spheres."

In a year to be remember for the quantity and quality of Italian cinema at the Toronto Film Festival, other selected films include Andrea Pallaoro's Hannah, recent Venice winner for its actress Charlotte Rampling, Jonas Carpignano's A Ciambra, and the short film Mon amour mon ami by Adriano Valerio.

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TORONTO 2017

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