Your Guide To The Most Buzzworthy Movies Of The Toronto Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is drawing to a close on Sunday, and I hate to tell you guys this, but the moment it’s over, you know what we’re officially closing in on? Award season. I know it seems early, given that the Academy Awards are still six months away, but that buzzing in your ears isn’t bees, my friend — it’s Oscar buzz.
For as smart as humans can be sometimes (ha!) we have real trouble remembering things that happened more than five minutes ago, so if a movie wants any chance of a nomination, it has a very small window for its release. And guess what! We’re in that window now, so gird your loins for a very active four months.
It’s intimidating, and we know that, so we want to to give you a little leg up on all the movies your brain is going to be exposed to between now and December. (Just like we do every year!) If we just take this one step at a time and count on each other, we can get through this. Let’s start by talking about the buzziest movies of the Toronto Film Fest (or ‘TIFF’, if ya nasty), and go from there. Deep breaths.
The Theory Of Everything
WHAT: a biopic about the life of Stephen Hawking, specifically centered around his courtship of and marriage to his wife, Jane
WHO: Eddie Redmayne as the man himself and Felicity Jones as Jane
This is definitely one to watch, as it hits the Oscars in several of its sweet spots. It’s a biopic about a living, venerated person (ding!) who is incapacitated by a disability (ding!) as played by Eddie, a young man clearly destined for greatness in the theater and film community (ding ding ding!). He’ll almost certainly get nominated for Best Actor, and according to the buzz from the festival, it’s looking good for Felicity as well.
The Imitation Game
WHAT: a biopic about another British genius, Alan Turing, the man who cracked the German’s Enigma code in World War II
WHO: Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, as well as Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode
Although he was widely acknowledged as probably the greatest contributor to the war effort, Turing was also heavily persecuted as a homosexual by the very country which he had served so intelligently and so bravely. The film follows him through key periods of his life like the depression of his boarding school years, the triumph of the war, and his return to depression in the aftermath of his conviction for indecency, which lead to him taking his own life. Basically if this movie isn’t up for Best Picture and Actor, a lot of people are gonna be eating their hats.
WHAT: the true story of Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz, his brother Dave Schultz, and their wealthy, erratic coach John DuPont
WHO: Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell, and Mark Ruffalo
This film had a great reception at Cannes, and it’s been well-reviewed by nearly everyone who’s seen it. I won’t spoil what happened in real life, but the amount of dark elements that come together in this story were begging for a film adaptation. Probably the movie I’m most excited for this season.
WHAT: yet another true story, this one based on a book by Cheryl Strayed about her experiences on the Pacific Coast Trail
WHO: it’s all Reese Witherspoon all the time
This is one of the first dark roles for Reese, and one she championed for the opportunity to portray. After years of destructive behavior including casual sex and heroin use, Cheryl lost her mother and got a divorce around the same time, so she set out alone on the Pacific Crest Trail. The story itself is pretty intense, and it’s a great opportunity for Reese to get a little grittier, so I imagine it’ll be a heavy contender during award season.
WHAT: a grumpy old guy has to watch the twelve-year old son of a neighbor
WHO: Bill Murray as the grump and Melissa McCarthy as the neighbor, joined by some other famous people like Naomi Watts and Chris O’Dowd
I mean come on. Crotchety old guy has to deal with wide-eyed, bullied young kid? I have a feeling we’re all going to get our hearts warmed, in between injections of humor from Bill and Melissa.
The Riot Club
WHAT: a look at the British class system in the elite Oxford club Bullingdon
WHO: Max Irons, Douglas Booth, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, and Jessica Brown Findlay
It could go either way, since the director, Lone Scherfig, put out a great movie (An Education), followed swiftly by a crappy movie (One Day), but everyone in it is right on the edge of being really famous, so this could be a launching pad for everybody.
WHAT: a thriller about a young freelance crime reporter in LA
WHO: Jake Gyllenhaal as the reporter
Could be garbage, as Jake plays a potentially unhinged character, and has been known to mix some terrible choices in with the excellent as far as his career goes. HOWEVER. He lost twenty pounds for this film, and if anyone’s poised for a McConaissance, it’s him.
Men, Women & Children
WHAT: a star-studded comedy
WHO: Rosemarie DeWitt, Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler, and Emma Thompson
Don’t quote me on this one, okay? It’s from Jason Reitman, and the last time we were all up his ass on award season buzz, it was for the film Labor Day, which turned out to be a grade-A stinker. But because of the A-list cast in this one, I’m letting myself get sucked in again. Don’t make me regret this, Reitman.
WHAT: an adaptation of August Stindberg’s play of the same name
WHO: Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell
Really, I’d just like to see Jessica finally get her hands on that Oscar she was denied in Zero Dark Thirty, so I hope director Liv Ullman pulls this off.
While We’re Young
The director, Noah Baumbach’s last film was Frances Ha, which was widely hailed as one of the best of last year. So let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s still got it. Should carry us at least to the first trailer, and then we can reevaluate.