Oscar race underway as Phoenix, Hoffman wow Venice

Venice traditionally fires the starting gun in the long movie awards season, and as the world’s oldest film festival reaches the halfway point three actors have set Hollywood tongues wagging with memorable performances. Michael Shannon as a serial hitman, Philip Seymour Hoffman as a cult leader modeled on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Joaquin Phoenix playing the tortured, volatile protege are already in the frame around six months before the Oscars.