Whether it’s owed to perfect timing or the fact that The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the few fests that opens its theatre doors to the public, there seems to be a special kind of magic that ties TIFF to the Oscars. In the past TIFF selections (and TIFF People’s Choice winners) have validated the Toronto movie-going crowd’s picks with nods from the Academy come awards season. This year, a number of big movies stood out as Hollywood contenders come next February. Here’s what you (and the Academy’s voters) should watch for:
TIFF 2018: Next stop, the Oscars!
DestroyerThe first time Nicole Kidman shows up on screen in Destroyer, the audience gasps. Like Charlize Theron in Monster, she’s unrecognizable. Her worn out LAPD-detective-with-nothing-to-lose character wears her exhaustion on her face—along with a determination to right an old wrong. Kidman is nothing short of mesmerizing.Annapurna Pictures
A Star Is BornIf winning an Oscar is all about the charm offensive, then director/actor Bradley Cooper and star Lady Gaga are already ahead of the game. The pair kicked off their Academy Award campaign at TIFF this year with a film that is likely to receive nominations in more than one category.Warner Bros.
Boy ErasedNicole Kidman can’t be stopped this year. In Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, she stars alongside Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges (with surprisingly moving cameos from both Chili Peppers guitarist Flea and Canada’s Xavier Dolan) in a film examining the painful process of conversion therapy and it’s innate cruelties.Focus Features
A Private WarMatthew Heineman's film was a last-minute add to the Festival after a big movie dropped out. In it, Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) plays real-life war journalist Marie Colvin and documents her final assignment in Syria. Colvin didn’t return from the front lines—her remarkable story is the kind of thing the Academy loves.Aviron
WILDLIFEFirst-time feature director Paul Dano and his frequent collaborator, actor and writer Zoe Kazan, tackle the whole coming of age thing in a heartbreakingly beautiful way. Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, and teenage Ed Oxenbould each turn in remarkable (perhaps, Oscar-worthy even?) performances.IFC Films
BEAUTIFUL BOYFilm world darling Timothée Chalamet stars opposite Steve Carell in a topical (hello, Oscar!) film about drug addiction and the tragedy of relapse. Both Carell (in Foxcatcher) and Chalamet (in Call Me By Your Name) have caught the Academy’s attention before but both are still waiting for a win.Amazon Studios
First ManThe proven Oscar-winning team of Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling reunite once again for First Man, the story of Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon. La La Land brought Gosling his second Best Leading Actor nomination — we think 2019 could be the year he brings home hardware.Universal
Gloria BellSebastián Lelio follows up his Oscar-winning 2017 film, A Fantastic Woman, with Gloria Bell, starring Academy favourite Julianne Moore. It’s an English-language remake of Lelio’s own film, which was a success at TIFF 2013. With the setting moved from Santiago to LA, this movie should get some love from Hollywood.A24
THE SISTERS BROTHERSBased on the novel by Vancouver Island native Patrick deWitt, this bit of Can-con has an excellent shot at an Academy nomination or two thanks to its stacked cast (John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, and Joaquin Phoenix) and skilled director, previous Palme D’or winner, Jacques Audiard.Annapurna
WIDOWSCan a heist movie get noticed during Awards season? If it’s directed by Steve McQueen, co-written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, and stars Viola Davis, we’d say: Absolutely. Did we mention that the cast of this thriller also includes Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Colin Farrell? Because it does.Fox