Early this afternoon a Variety piece shared a downbeat assessment of the still-unfolding Toronto Film Festival. Written by Matt Donnelly and Angelique Jackson, it was titled “Toronto Film Festival Soldiers on Through COVID-19, but Where Are the Movie Stars?” HE’s question is more to the point — where the hell was Reinaldo Marcus Green and Will Smith‘s King Richard, the biggest hot-button film of the ’21 Oscar season so far and the likeliest winner of the Best Picture Oscar?

King Richard premiered in Telluride on 9.2, but Toronto honchos couldn’t persuade Warner Bros. to show it there also? In the old days Toronto would screen each and every Best Picture contender that was making the rounds, bar none. But for whatever reason (possibly Covid concerns) Warner Bros. decided against it.

Jordan Ruimy: “2021 was TIFF’s worst edition by far. I can’t believe they couldn’t even nab King Richard — that would have easily won the People’s Choice award. The only logical explanation for King Richard not going is that WB just wanted to skip Toronto. And where were C’mon Cmon, The Lost Daughter, The Hand of God and Cyrano? And you’re absolutely right, by the way, about the inexplicably over-praised Spencer and Belfast.”

King Richard will be AFI Fest’s closing-night film on Sunday, 11.14.