TIFF top 10: The festival’s most buzzworthy titles
Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl," courtesy of TIFF.
The Toronto International Film Festival barrels into September like an out-of-control semi, but its sheer size is part of what makes TIFF so enjoyable. In recent years the festival has seen some of its hype diminish thanks to strong fests in Venice and Telluride (which both just finished), as well as New York (which starts at the end of the month).
But even “weaker” years offer inordinate pleasures among its nearly 300 features. And in 2015 TIFF looks to have its strongest lineup in years. In addition to biggies like The Martian and Black Mass, here are ten buzzworthy titles.
●The Danish Girl: When the trailer for Oscar-winner Tom Hooper’s (The King’s Speech) dropped on September 1, the Twitter chatter was clear: The story of artist Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of sexual reassignment surgery, looks stunning, and star Eddie Redmayne could be on his way to a second straight Best Actor award (certainly a nomination). Reviews out of Venice have been mostly very positive.
●Youth: Paolo Sorrentino follows up his Oscar-winning film The Great Beauty with a great cast (Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda).
●High-Rise: The most notable selection in TIFF’s new Platform program is a J.G. Ballard (Crash), adaptation from director Ben Wheatley (A Field in England), starring the likes of Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons. If the previous sentence does not intrigue, I don’t know what to tell ya.
●The Witch: While this Sundance favorite won’t arrive in theaters until 2016, the buzz is massive for this horror film about possibly mysterious forces in 17th century New England.
●Spotlight: Early indications are Tom McCarthy has rebounded from The Cobbler with this true story of the Catholic Church child abuse cover-up. And while the notices out of Venice and Telluride have been phenomenal, a strong showing at TIFF could cement its status as an Oscar-season power player. Michael Keaton leads a heavyweight ensemble lineup.
●Brooklyn: I defy anyone to watch the trailer for this tale of a young Irish woman’s new life in 50s America and not swoon. A strong cast—Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters — make this a must-see.
●Room: Brie Larson has been giving strong performances in everything from Short Term 12 and The Gambler to 21 Jump Street in recent years. Word is her work in this adaptation of Emma Donaghue’s best-seller is her best yet, and young costar Jacob Tremblay is also earning raves.
●45 Years: Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a retired English couple reflecting on their long marriage? With that duo and this concept, it’s hard not expect greatness.
●Freeheld: One of the festival’s most timely entries is the true story of a terminally ill New Jersey police officer who fought to pass on her pension benefits to her domestic partner. The cast includes Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, and Michael Shannon.
●Trumbo: Can Austin Powers director Jay Roach do justice to the story of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo? Maybe, maybe not, but with Bryan Cranston in the starring role, I can’t wait to find out.
TIFF runs from September 10-20; visit tiff.net for more info.
Film critic Christopher Schobert is covering TIFF for Buffalo.com and Buffalo Spree. He'll be tweeting at Twitter.com/FilmSwoon.