10 Films Not to Miss at this Year’s Toronto International Film Festival

With an initial forty-seven films announced so far, here are our some of our most anticipated.
By  · Published on July 26th, 2017

With an initial forty-seven films announced so far, here are our some of our most anticipated.

With just over forty days to go until the opening of the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival, the first wave of films has officially been announced. Even with an expected total of near two hundred features to be shown, today’s forty-seven titles offer a good look at what audiences can expect from this year’s programming. Included in the forty-seven are twelve world premieres, with the rest having been/to be screened at other festivals. While this year’s slate already seems to have plenty to offer, I narrowed it down to ten films that we are most looking forward to.

A Fantastic Woman (Sebastián Lelio)

Chilean director Sebastián Lelio follows his 2013 Festival hit Gloria with this drama about a young transgender woman struggling with both her own grief and societal prejudice after the death of her middle-aged lover.  

Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio)

Sebastián Lelio directs Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams in this adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel about a woman who returns home to her orthodox Jewish community in London and rekindles a romance with her cousin’s wife.

It’s great to see Sebastián Lelio back at the festival with A Fantastic Woman and Disobedience. The director’s previous film Gloria surprised me as one of my favorite films from the 2013 festival. A Fantastic Woman already won raves when it screened earlier this year at the Berlin festival, so we can expect that to please. On the other hand, Disobedience sees Lelio making his English-language début and working with A-list stars, which is sure to yield interesting results.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Paul McGuigan)

Oscar winner Annette Bening and Jamie Bell star in this adaptation of the memoir by British actor Peter Turner, recounting his romance with the legendary (and legendarily eccentric) Hollywood star Gloria Grahame during the last years of her life.

Annette Bening gave one of the best performances of 2016 in 20th Century Women, so it’s great to see her leading Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool so soon after.

I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie)

Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding in this biopic of the disgraced Olympic figure skater.

I, Tonya has been on my radar for some time and was one of the few films I was eagerly hoping would be announced in today’s selection. The Margot Robbie lead biopic will surely be one of the hottest tickets at the festival and will likely continue on to be a major awards contender.

The Wife (Björn Runge)

Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close, and Christian Slater star in Björn Runge’s adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s bestselling novel about an author who travels to Stockholm to collect her Nobel Prize — and leaves her husband in the process.

The Wife sounds like it could be a strong vehicle for Glenn Close. The actress hasn’t had a great leading role since 2011’s Albert Nobbs, so I’m hoping this one gives her a chance to remind viewers why she’s been nominated for six Academy Awards.

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)

At the height of the Cold War, circa 1962, two workers in a high-tech US government laboratory (Sally Hawkins and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer) discover a terrifying secret experiment, in this otherworldly fairytale from Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth).

The wildly imaginative Guillermo del Toro returns with The Shape of Water, which offered a stunning first glimpse in its recently released trailer. The film was partially shot at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, where it will possibly screen, making for an extra special viewing experience.

Thelma (Joachim Trier)

Recently moved to Oslo to attend school, a young woman falls in love and discovers that she possesses terrifying powers, in this supernatural thriller from acclaimed director Joachim Trier (Louder Than Bombs).

I found Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs to be profoundly moving when it screened at Cannes in 2015, so I’m on board with whatever he has to offer next. Thelma seems like a departure from the director’s usually more devastating material and is likely to unsettle viewers.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)

A frustrated and grieving mother (Frances McDormand) antagonizes her local police force (including Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) to call attention to the lack of progress in the search for her daughter’s killer, in the latest from dark-humour master Martin McDonagh.

I’ve been thinking about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri since I first saw the trailer just over a month ago. Frances McDormand gave the world the absolutely brilliant Olive Kitteridge in 2014 and I’ve been waiting for her to take on another equally tenacious role since hopefully Martin McDonagh’s latest does the trick.

Untitled Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart Film (Neil Burger)

Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart star in this remake of the French hit The Intouchables, a dramatic buddy comedy about the unlikely friendship between a rich quadriplegic and his working-class caregiver.

Kevin Hart makes his film festival debut with the currently Untitled remake of the massively successful French comedy The Intouchables. It seems a little too Oscar-baity on the surface, but the teaming of Hart with Bryan Cranston is assured to warm some hearts.

Victoria and Abdul (Stephen Frears)

Acclaimed British auteur Stephen Frears reunites with his Philomena star, Academy Award winner Judi Dench, in this charming dramedy chronicling the friendship between Queen Victoria and a decades-younger Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.

Finally, we have the second collaboration between Stephen Frears and Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul. I’ve always been a sucker for Dench and as a result found Philomena to be endlessly charming, so I’ll be seated for this one.

Some other highlights include Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Kings, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Mélanie Laurent’s Plonger, George Clooney’s Suburbicon, Xavier Beuvois’ The Guardians, Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, and Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, which we can’t wait to revisit.

All photos and synopses courtesy of TIFF.

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Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films.