Annette Bening was center stage in 2004 at the Toronto International Film Festival when Being Julia, directed by Istvan Szabo, served as the opening night film. “We are thrilled to open this year’s festival with Being Julia,” Piers Handling, the TIFF Group’s then CEO and director, said. “Annette Bening gives an award-worthy performance surrounded by tremendous Canadian and international talent.” And, in fact, Bening went on to receive the third of her four Oscar nominations for her performance as a middle-aged London stage actress who discovers a new lease on life when her husband (Jeremy Irons) introduces her to a young actor (Shaun Evans) with whom she begins an affair.
“We love our movie. We’re hopelessly partial to it,” the actress enthused to Hello! Magazine on the red carpet. “It’s something that I worked very hard on and I really care very deeply about it.” Accompanying her was her husband, Warren Beatty, who added in praise of his wife: “You would never think that a human being would be able to do what this one does at home and still be what she is at work. She has a lot of energy and more talent than any actress alive — I’m always amazed by her.”
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Sitting for an interview with The Washington Post, Bening expanded further on the film, saying, “You see me, an actress, playing the part of an actress who’s also playing various parts in a number of ways. And you also see her sort of strip down.… This is a woman whose masks fall away. Once I heard an actress say, ‘Good acting is about taking off a mask. Not putting one on.’ It’s all about that.”
Bening returns to the festival this year, taking on the role of real-life long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad in Nyad, a Netflix feature directed by the husband-and-wife team of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. And judging by the enthusiastic buzz after the film’s world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, a fifth Oscar nomination could well be in the offing.
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