Fall film festival is upon us and there is a plethora of new and exciting films debuting in the next couple of weeks. One of the biggest film festivals in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival, is set to being on September 6th. The world premieres include the debut of new films from Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Steve McQueen, and Xavier Dolan. In adfdition, the festival will welcome new films from Alfonso Cuaron, Damien Chazelle, and Bradley Cooper among many others. With so many choices to choose from it is difficult even to pick 20 films to watch among the films playing at TIFF.
Below are some of the films that are among the most anticipated TIFF films for 2018. The films run the gauntlet from first-time directors to legendary stand-bys. And some of these films are bound to be in the conversation for the best of the year. With the beginning of TIFF launches the start of prestige season and here are some to look forward to.
As if a new film by Claire Denis wasn’t enough to get excited about, High Life features a cast of Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, and Mia Goth among others. Pattinson is coming off a career performance in last year’s Good Time, and here he plays a space prisoner who is caring for his baby daughter on a dangerous flight. If you weren’t sold on Denis, Pattinson, and space, I’m not sure what else would entice you, but don’t sleep on this one.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins’ last film, Moonlight, won the best picture amidst one of the wildest Oscars presentations in history. This time he is adapting a novel from James Baldwin. If Beale Street Could Talk tells the story of Tish and Fonny. Tish (Kiki Layne) is 19 and pregnant from the love of her life, Fonny. The big problem is that Fonny has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Moonlight was a beautifully realized picture given the budget that Jenkins worked with. There is little doubt that If Beale Street Could Talk will continue his ascension as one of the most essential voices in cinema today.
Alfonso Cuaron has taken us on many incredible journeys. With Y Tu Mama Tambien he took us on a road trip that would come to define the lives of those involved. In Children of Men, he showed us a bleak future where humans have lost the ability to reproduce, and chaos reigns supreme. Gravity showed the determination of one woman and her drive to return home from orbit. Now Cuaron is making his most personal film yet. Roma captures an important time in Mexico City that Cuaron lived through. Instead of retelling his own story, he focuses on the life of a middle-class family. Cuaron wrote, directed, and did the cinematography for Roma. Another master of cinema at the height of his creativity you won’t want to miss.
Director Steve McQueen returns with his first film since the Academy Award-winning, 12 Years A Slave. Widows follows the plight of four women whose husbands have left them in a world of trouble. The husbands, recently deceased, have a debt of criminal activities that are unaccounted for. The wives, played by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo, have to take control of the situation or lose their lives in the process. Gone Girl and Sharp Objects author Gillian Flynn joined McQueen in creating the script, and with this cast on board, it is a must see.
When you hear biopic based on the life of Neil Armstrong, it doesn’t bring much excitement to the table. When you learn that it is another collaboration between Academy Award-winning director, Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling, the excitement turns up a notch. Then you include a supporting cast of Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler and this becomes one of the cinematic treats of the year. If the IMAX preview footage is indicative what to expect from First Man, this will be a lot more than a by-the-numbers biopic.
Burning is South Korean film director Lee Chang-dong’s first film in 8 years. The thriller, taken from a short story from world renown author Haruki Murakami, follows a young man and his suspicions of a new acquantice who has become too friendly with his childhood friend. The film stars Yoo Ah-in, Jun Jong-Seo, and Walking Dead star Steven Yeun.
Winner of the Palme d’Or, Shoplifters, tells the story of a family that has taken in a little girl. The family doesn’t have much. Thus they have to make money through petty crime and shoplifting. They raise the girl as one of their own until it is discovered who the little girl might belong to. Kore-eda has been on quite the streak of films over the last five years. Like Father, Like Son, Our Little Sister, After the Storm, and The Third Murder have all examined different aspects of family life, and if reviews and acclaim from Cannes are to be believed, this might be his crowning achievement.
Director Thomas Vinterberg has a new film in the submarine genre. His previous films, The Hunt and Far from the Madding Crowd, were incredibly entertaining and award-worthy. This time he teams up with Matthias Schoenarts, Colin Firth, Lea Seydoux, and Max von Sydow for a film that follows the events of the 2000 K-141 Kursk submarine disaster. On one side is sailors trying to survive, on the other is a political battle to gain approval to save them.
Timothee Chalamet is mad about losing Best Actor for his role in Call Me by Your Name (not really.) This year he is back with another performance that will be a knock-out. Playing opposite Steve Carell, Chalamet plays a young man who is struggling with meth addiction and the hard battle to overcome the addiction. Trailers thus far have shown some incredible moments between Carell and Chalamet. Beautiful Boy should be on everyone’s radar.
A true sequel to the original classic, Halloween brings Jamie Lee Curtis back into the fold playing her iconic character of Laurie Strode. Even director John Carpenter is providing music for the film. It has been 40 years since the events that led to Michael Myers killing spree on Halloween. This film notably ignores all the other sequels to Halloween and features a script by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. Will Michael Myers get his revenge on Laurie Strode or will she be able to survive his torment once again? This is easily one of the most anticipated at the fest making an appearance in the Midnight Madness frame before making a premier date at Fantastic Fest.
Netflix has plenty of big titles coming to the service this fall, but this one has the honor of being called the TIFF 2018 Opening Film. Outlaw King, from Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie, tells the story of Robert the Bruce, the renowned King of Scots. Featuring a cast of Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Florence Pugh, Outlaw King is a large-scale epic that is perfectly suited for the big screen. Chances are that it will be a treat to see it projected as such at TIFF before it makes an appearance on Netflix in November.
Director Laszlo Nemes follow-up to the Academy Award-winning Son of Saul, Sunset depicts the story of 20-year-old Irisz Leiter. After years of being in an orphanage, she receives a letter to return home from her late parents. Upon arrival the situation is dire, and perhaps she would’ve done better to stay away. The trailer for this one shows Nemes continuing his guerrilla-style shooting, putting the audience right in the shoes of the protagonist as she goes through some troubling times. It will be exciting to see how he follows up Son of Saul.
One of the mainstays at Cannes, it was surprising not to see Mike Leigh’s Peterloo play on the Croisette. No matter as it has been given a big roll out with dates in Venice, London, and Toronto. The film depicts the Peterloo Massacre, as thousands of people from Manchester demanded Parliamentary reform. A conflict that led to hundreds injured and many casualties. Leigh has had a tremendous streak of acclaimed pictures dating back to the early 00’s, and Peterloo looks to be no exception.
Gloria Bell is a remake of Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 film, Gloria. This time Academy-Award winner Julianne Moore plays the titular Gloria, a free-spirited woman in her 50s who seeks out love by attending various dance clubs. The original film was well received, but an America remake should give the story a lot more attention. Usually, I’m a little apprehensive about remakes so soon, but with Lelio remaking his own film, he must believe there was enough here to go back to and revisit. The film has already been picked up for distribution from A24.
The Death & Life of John F. Donovan
A long delayed project is finally seeing the light at TIFF. The new film from Xavier Dolan featuring Game of Thrones Kit Harington, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, and Kathy Bates among others will make its premier during TIFF. Dolan has already achieved plenty of acclaim in his young career earning multiple prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. This English-language debut is about a star who has died alone following scandals. One of his fans, an 11-year-old, recounts the time he was secret pen pals with the late actor. There has been plenty of back and forth on The Death & Life of John F. Donovan, it is exciting to see what Dolan has come up with.
A Star is Born
Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with a remake of a classic story. A Star is Born features Cooper and Lady Gaga as a pair of musicians. Cooper’s Jackson Maine has been doing the singing thing for a long time, and convinces struggling artist Ally (Gaga) to continue her dream of singing to really hit it big. The first trailer for the film lit up the internet when it was released in June and this one has been high on fan anticipation for months now. The only question will be if Cooper and Gaga can deliver a remake worthwhile of all the hype.
Another debut from a actor, director Joel Edgerton shares the story of a young man who is forced to undergo a gay conversion therapy program. Featuring a leading performance from Manchester by the Sea’s Lucas Hedges, the film will certainly be a difficult watch as it is a story that far too many have had to suffer through. Boy Erased features supporting performances from Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Xavier Dolan, and musician Troye Sivan.
Director Brady Corbet’s new feature showcases the life of a pop star. Starring Natalie Portman, Vox Lux will go through almost twenty years of being in the limelight and the ups and downs that come with it. The film features original music from pop superstar Sia and supporting roles from Jude Law and Stacy Martin.
Having played both Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival, Paul Dano’s directorial debut comes to Toronto. The story centers around a boy whose parents (Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal) are having marital problems. He witnesses their struggle and how his mother has to deal with the betrayal of her husband during the 1960s. This one has been receiving a lot of buzz and should be one of those films that is a little bit under the radar, but wholly satisfying.
The Old Man and the Gun
Robert Redford has had a historic career. He has chosen to wrap it up with his latest, The Old Man and the Gun. Director by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story), the story finds Redford as Forrest Tucker, an older gentleman who has escaped prison and continues a string of heists. From the trailers, the film captures the spirit of Redford’s earlier films, while being something totally new. The supporting cast includes Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, and Danny Glover. If this is the goodbye Redford wants for his career, chances are he will be leaving on a high note.