Oscar 2007: Blanchett Double EW

how low key were things up at the Toronto Film Festival on Wednesday You could tell by looking at the evening's two Gala presentations at Roy Thomson Hall, always the main glitz showcase for films at the fest. The double feature included L'age Des Tenebres, Denys Arcand's followup to The Barbarian Invasions, and Blood Brothers, a Shanghai-set gangster movie set in the 1930s, directed by debut filmmaker Alexi Tan. Hardly the Witherspoon-Pitt-Clooney-studded showcases that played at Toronto just a few days earlier.

In other words, excepting attendees who bled maple-leaf red for international cinema, Wednesday was the first day folks could feel like they weren't really missing anything at the fest, and actually be right. But, since we wouldn't want you to miss out, here are the day's highlights.

THE AUDIENCE BUZZ
Besides the aforementioned gala screenings, the only other big-deal premiere was the debut of I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan sort-of-biopic that casts Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and Richard Gere as incarnations of the greatest musician of the 20th Century. Word on this one was so delightfully jumbled that, just as soon as you absorbed enough negative reaction on it to convince you to stay away, along came a woozy rave that convinced you to see it. (Perhaps it's too obvious to note that Dylan himself would probably have it no other way) The greatest consensus seemed to be that the Richard Gere section flails around the most, while Cate Blanchett playing the Don't Look Back-era Dylan is a likely Oscar contender.

At any rate, it looks like it'll be fun to watch what audiences, Dylanologists, and critics make of I'm Not There when it opens later this fall. As Todd Haynes put it on Wednesday afternoon, decoding Dylan used to be a national pastime, the likes of which according to Haynes, anyway we haven't seen since, not even in this gossipy age of celebrity-obsessed journalism. 'It wasn't just that his every step was followed and commented upon, like people experience today in the media,' Haynes told EW.com. 'But his every word and move were so analyzed and so carried the weight of meaning with a capital M. It's a whole other realm than even Britney Spears or Paris Hilton could fathom.'

THE HOT TOPIC
On Tuesday night, Phil Donahue presented Body of War, a documentary he self-financed and codirected (with Ellen Spiro) about Tomas Young, a twentysomething soldier who was serving his first week in Iraq when got paralyzed by a bullet to the spine. Capped off with an acoustic performance by Eddie Vedder (who wrote protest songs expressly for the film's soundtrack), the screening was powerful, a vivid window onto a wounded vet's world. As Donahue told EW.com, 'I really do passionately believe, that [the Iraq war] was a massive foreign policy blunder that is going to rattle around the consciousness of my nation for this century.'

But while Donahue, Spiro, and Young took part in press interviews, their reps were trying to find a theatrical distributor for their movie. Nonetheless, Donahue who, incidentally, doesn't look a day older than he did when he left his daytime talk show a decade ago considers himself 'still young and nave enough' to be optimistic. 'We don't think it's absurd to believe that our film, which we understand is not Little Miss Sunshine, will achieve a live audience that would even reach Hail Mary! commercial success,' he said. 'We think that's a possibility. We think we're different.' Additional reporting by Adam B. Vary