The Judge looks to be on track to land in the Oscar race, as its positioning at TIFF makes abundantly clear. It stars Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr. The film looks interesting to me but for some reason it doesn’t have the “cool factor” attached to it. That’s fine, though. It doesn’t need really need that if it’s aiming for the Oscar race. It only needs either decent to great reviews or the ability to bypass the critics entirely and go straight to the people/voters, like The Blind Side. One of its biggest problems, Oscar wise, is the director isn’t anyone people know. The job will then be to up his status in the tribe.

The Toronto International Film Festival today announced that David Dobkin’s The Judge will open the 2014 Festival on Thursday, September 4. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, the Big Kid Pictures/Team Downey production stars Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.

Big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) returns to his childhood home where his estranged father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

“The stars aligned and we are thrilled to announce that we will kick off the Festival with The Judge,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO, TIFF. “David Dobkin has delivered a moving, textured story about family, duty and the way we remember our past. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to this year’s event.”

“I brought my first film, Clay Pigeons, to Toronto, so 15 years later to actually be on opening night with The Judge is incredibly special and thrilling,” Dobkin stated. “The Festival audiences are terrific, and I know I speak for everyone involved in the film when I say we are so pleased to be unveiling it there.”

“We always want to deliver for our audience and we can’t think of a better way than kicking things off with The Judge,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director for the Toronto International Film Festival. “Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are terrific in the film, and David Dobkin guides the entire cast to rich, satisfying performances.”

Sue Kroll, President Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, said, “We are so proud to be taking The Judge to TIFF, and honored to be in the opening night slot. The film is truly deserving and we believe the always-discerning audience in Toronto will appreciate it as much as we do.”

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  • James

    Yea I still feel the trailer was a bit bland. Hope the film itself is better. Could be solid. Like the cast well enough.

  • Rob Y

    Jeeeez. That’s a horrible trailer. The has to be better than that considering the cast involved.

  • joe

    I believe Robert Downey Jr and Robert duvall will get praise for this. One of them will receive a golden globe or Oscar Nomination

  • This is a great film to open the festival. I will definitely add this to my list of films to watch. People are going to go crazy over Downey Jr, including me!

  • Richard B

    This is not a serious effort. It can’t be. Not with the year this is shaping up to be. An acting nom or two at most.

  • Remember that time when the bloggerati were buzzing about Robert Duvall winning another Oscar for Get Low.

    I want to see this crotchety old Judge character team up in a buddy movie with this screenwriter’s other sure-fire Oscar-baity creation, the crotchety old crank in Gran Torino.

  • cirkusfolk

    Actually Robert Downey Jr talked about this script a few years ago and mentioned it could be his ticket to an Oscar. He was very upfront about stating he wants to win an Oscar and doesn’t see how he can’t eventually. Anyway, he called it the best thing he’s read in years. Maybe it’s more than we are seeing in the trailer.

  • Ella

    This looks like what The Fifth Estate (last years opener haha) turned out to be. Once an Oscar contender but stumbled at the fest and never came back from it.

  • I really wonder how this got to be the opener. Maybe it’s just a bad trailer (that it’s a bad trailer is not in dispute), but I wonder if this is here because of payola or some other form of wheedling, or…is it actually good?

  • JPNS Viewer

    Of the four male characters, ironically despite but a near-second two shots or so featured here, somehow Vincent D’Onofrio — myself to entertain the Awards season idea around here — is the only one whose vibes I’m feeling #right now (odd, I know, understandably given much more weight being apparently directed towards the two main characters, or rather, one main character and Robert Duvall’s). Duvall, however, looks as if he could deliver as usual; I’m hoping it rings true in the full feature version. (Really enjoyed his performances in Tender Mercies, and The Apostle (etc.).
    (A viewer myself, I, however, recently [reading: since Due Date (2010) era, if not already from the post-Zodiac period, possibly more or less excluding Tropic Thunder] have been having an issue with Downey, Jr.’s efforts [no offense, Mr. Downey, Jr.]: to me he seems to have kept playing Downey, Jr. trying to wear a given character ever since.)
    (Thornton looks to be in the same vein as Mr. Stark [not saying he physically and literally looks Iron-Man Starky] as well, in that sense, but I might simply read too much into it, considering there was nothing much to read into from the clip. . . .)

    This trailer, despite all of the ##formulaic elements, somehow has failed to deliver its own duty as a teaser. Just saying.
    [##Especially that I-conquer-all-obstacles-in-the-world-and-have-become-a-better-man-and-so-I-have-finally-arisen-to-the-occasion-in-Act-IV, baity revelatory score. . . . . First, Unbroken, then The Imitation Game, and now, again . . . ? Hollywood, pleeease, gimme a break, maaan . . . . ]

  • rufussondheim


    Boyhood has now reached 100 on Metacritic, which surely must be the highest ranking for a current film Metacritic has seen, especially with 40 reviews in.

  • Bob Burns

    looks like

    TIFF screwed up by stiffing Telluride. Greedy. Contenders liked the premier in Toronto and the sneak in Telluride. Worked well for both festivals. If they can’t do that, why not premier in New York?

    Meanwhile, Boyhood is MC 100 with 40 critics.


  • Natasha

    Too hard to tell from this trailer—could be great–could be awful–could be equal parts both. Duvall adds such gravitas. Looking forward to seeing Downey as something other than Tony Stark–it’s hard to forget he’s not that character sometimes. I think Downey certainly wants us to see him as something other than Tony Stark, too.

  • Sato

    Just like any other film, all this needs is a chance. Actually, I like it that Downey Jr. gives himself other projects like this for us to see his other side, though he’s perfect as Iron-Man, he’s more than that role. I heard that this was also produced by him (correct me if I’m wrong)? So maybe this is a passion project of sorts?

    By the way, when will the second slate of line up be announced? Looking forward to other films that might be a contender as well from this festival.

    And sorry I couldn’t remember if Telluride does announce their line-up of films?

  • Viola

    The trailer looked terribly trite and ordinary. Maybe there are some great character/acting scenes between Downey and Duvall in the movie somewhere, but I somehow don’t get the feeling that the director and the decision makers had an interesting artistic vision for this movie.

  • Amo a Robert Downey Jr. y me parece excelente la pelicula asi que no me la perdere por nada del mundo Y me parece bien que esta sea nominada a un oscar Y SOBRE TODO COMO MEJOR ACTOR.

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