You may have heard some buzz about theses TIFF titles, but the noise is about to get a lot louder.
Whether it’s Awards-season whisperings or big box office talk, these are ten films that will be making headlines in the near future, so add them to your must-see list now.
La La Land
Who’s in it: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Rosemarie DeWitt, and JK Simmons
What’s it about: Writer/director Damien Chazelle pens a musical love letter to Los Angeles with a love story at its centre. She’s a struggling actor/barista, he’s a jazz pianist and a purist. After a few false starts, they wind up together… but can it last?
Who will love it: This musical masterpiece is a definite crowd pleaser, but we’re betting that when awards season rolls around, La La Land won’t be forgotten.
Why you should see it: For a few reasons. One: remember how great Stone and Gosling were together in Crazy, Stupid, Love? This is that, expect with dance numbers that pay homage to mid-century Hollywood classics. Two: the mashup of eras that will leave you confused (in the best way) about which decade these lovebirds are living in.
Who’s in it: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, aliens.
What’s it about: A dozen alien ships enter Earth’s atmosphere and silently hover above different spots on the globe. At specific intervals, a door opens and militaries and governments send in their people. No one makes much headway until the US recruits a top linguist (Adams) to see if she can bridge the communication gap. When she does, incredible things begin to happen.
Who will love it: Arrival isn’t Men In Black so don’t go expecting to see alien guts get blasted across the side of a spaceship. The movie is way better than that. It should do well at the box office and even better during awards season.
Why you should see it: Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is on a roll. Following last year’s TIFF debut of Sicario, Villeneuve treats moviegoers to his thoughtful, creative take on a completely different genre of film. Arrival is subtle, arty, engaging sci fi.
Who’s in it: Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, and Peter Sarsgaard.
What’s it about: Portman plays Jackie Kennedy in the days and months following the 1963 assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. The film centers around an epic, career-making interview she gives to a journalist (Crudup), recounting the shooting in Dallas and everything that followed.
Who will love it: People are already whispering the word “Oscar” in relation to Portman’s performance. Jackie won’t set any box office records but it could snag its star another statuette.
Why you should see it: Portman’s performance is the main reason (mastering that accent? wow) but there’s also the way the film brings you close to the story of what Kennedy must have gone through, as the mother of two young children dealing with the death and legacy of her husband under so much media scrutiny.
The Edge of Seventeen
Who’s in it: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, and Kyra Sedgwick
What’s it about: The (hilarious) hellscape that is high school. After Steinfeld’s outcast character discovers that her BFF has begun dating her popular older brother, she feels like she’s got nothing to lose. Desperate, awkward, LOL-inducing attempts to make connections with new people ensue.
Who will love it: This one’s for the audience.
Why you should see it: Edge of Seventeen is director Kelly Fremon Craig’s debut feature, but she’s managed to wrangle an impressive cast of comedy veterans who are extremely effective (read: funny) at their job.
The Magnificent Seven
Who’s in it: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Peter Sarsgaard.
What’s it about: A bounty hunter (Washington) unites a ragtag bunch of townspeople to stand in armed opposition to a ruthless capitalist looking to take over the local mine. They’re doing it for the cash of course—at least at first….
Who will love it: Moviegoers. Antoine Fuqua’s remake is unlikely to bring him the awards attention that Training Day did but the showdown at the centre of Magnificent Seven is guaranteed to entertain crowds.
Why you should see it: The original 1960 film was itself an adaptation of a Japanese samurai movie. If it’s worth remaking twice, it’s got to be worth watching.
Who’s in it: Natalie Portman and Lily Rose Depp (yep, Johnny’s kid).
What’s it about: Two American sisters take 1930s-era Paris by storm thanks to their alleged abilities to communicate with the spirit world. When their stage show attracts the attention of a French film-world high roller, things begin to get scary (like, even scarier than talking to dead people).
Who will love it: The movie will probably find more fans among critics than general audiences but if you want to get a jump on your awards season viewing, see it now.
Why you should see it: Gorgeous people in a gorgeous city during a gorgeous period in history. And ghosts! We’re sold.
Who’s in it: Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Dev Patel.
What’s it about: The ability to find literally anyone using the awesome power of the internet. Patel plays the grown adopted child of an Australian woman (Kidman) who, after becoming separated from his Indian parents as a small child, uses Google Earth to find them again decades later. If you’ve ever had some forgotten someone from your past track you down on Facebook, this movie will freak you out—it’s that multiplied by a thousand. The world is so small.
Who will love it: The Academy, audiences… everyone? We’re all suckers for real life stories.
Why you should see it: Aside from the all-star cast, Lion‘s incredible tale about an online search for truth and identity is both moving and highly relevant in our tech-driven world.
Who’s in it: Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley, and Sam Riley.
What’s it about: An arms deal gone really, really wrong. When an IRA rebel (Murphy) attempts to buy a load of automatic weapons off of a South African dealer (Copley), tensions run high—mostly because of how incredibly annoying one of them is. An innumerable quantity of bullets are exchanged to the degree where you begin to wonder whether or not anyone will make it out of this abandoned warehouse alive.
Who will love it: Audiences. This movie is pure fun.
Why you should see it: Director Ben Wheatley (along with writing partner Amy Jump) regularly brings his best to TIFF. This year is no exception. Free Fire is the most fun we’ve had with the pair since they debuted Sightseers in Toronto in 2012.
Queen of Katwe
Who’s in it: Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.
What’s it about: Heartwarming is one word we’d use to describe this movie. After a missionary worker visits a small Ugandan village, his friendship with one of the children there becomes the key to unlocking a secret talent no one knew she had—Phiona (Nalwanga) is a chess prodigy, good enough to compete at the international level and, perhaps, give her family a better life.
Who will love it: This is another movie based on a true story and the Academy loves those. As evidenced by her Oscar win in 2014, they also love Lupita (and so do we).
Why you should see it: There have been a handful of movies about chess masters to come out in recent years but not one of them has focused on female players. Director Mira Nair brings us a unique and untold story.
Who’s in it: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, and Zachary Quinto.
What’s it about: If you don’t recognize the name Edward Snowden then you probably didn’t own a smartphone in 2013. That was the year the computer expert leaked classified documents to several major newspapers about who could see all that stuff you store on your phone. Even if you are familiar with Snowden’s case, we’d still recommend that you prepare yourself to be completely creeped out all over again by the NSA’s government-approved domestic spy program.
Who will love it: Director Oliver Stone swears that no studio in Hollywood would touch this project so it’ll be interesting to see how the Academy treats him. Moviegoers, especially tech-minded ones, will be riveted.
Why you should see it: To remind yourself that whatever you’re doing on your phone, there’s somebody else out there that might be watching and listening in.