Welcome to TIFF 11 for '11. For the next six days leading up the Toronto International Film Festival, we'll be taking a look at some of the highlights screening at Fall's biggest fest. Check back all through the weekend as we dig deeper into the Midnight Madness, Real to Reel, and World Cinema programs on offer. Today we start things off with a look at 11 of the high profile titles that will be hoping for awards glory as we push towards winter. Enjoy!
It's been seven years since Alexander Payne debuted Sideways at TIFF before going on to score a five-pack of Oscar noms and win Best Adapted Screenplay honors. Payne is looking to replicate that success with his long awaited return to the director's chair. The film stars George Clooney as a father reexamining his priorities after his wife is involved in a tragic boating accident off Waikiki. Between the meaty role for Clooney and Payne's writing and directing chops, this will surely be one of the early awards faves when it rolls out Thanksgiving weekend.
Jonathan Levine showed his knack for balancing comedy and romantic drama with his 2008 Sundance hit The Wackness. With his latest feature (his 3rd including the tragically unreleased All The Boys Love Mandy Lane), Levine takes this formula to the next level, creating a remarkably enjoyable battle with cancer. The film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as a 27 year old with a dire prognosis. Bryce Dallas Howard and Anna Kendrick take turns as romantic interests in both of their best roles to date. Seth Rogen plays the comedic relief while Anjelica Huston turns in an Oscar-ready performance as the over bearing mother. Screenwriter Will Reiser based the film on his own battle with the deadly disease and shows remarkable talent in his first produced feature. Dropping from Summit on September 30th, this is one of the fall's first must-sees.
Trailer 1 | Trailer 2
A DANGEROUS METHOD
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung battle via wits over an attractive patient in David Cronenberg's return to the big screen after a four year absence. Michael Fassbender plays Jung and Cronenberg fave Viggo Mortensen is Freud. The girl in the middle? The lovely Keira Knightley. The film hits theaters during the crowded Thanksgiving frame.
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Everyone loves Pedro Almodóvar, especially Sony Pictures Classics who are releasing their sixth consecutive feature by the Spanish auteur. This time Almodóvar trades Peneolpe Cruz for Antonio Banderas who plays a plastic surgeon obsessed with creating the synthetic skin that could have saved his tragically killed wife. The film is set to roll out to theaters on October 14th.
Trailer | Teaser 1 | Teaser 2
If anyone missed Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank last year then stop reading right now, open up a new tab, log in to Netflix and add it to your queue. Arnold's story of a girl trying to find her way to adulthood portrayed an honesty too often lacking in coming-of-age stories. Her adaptation of Emily Bronte's 19th century classic promises the same treatment.
Bennett Miller has directed one narrative feature and has one Oscar nom to show for it. Six years after Capote, Miller returns looking for the statue with his Aaron Sorkin/Steve Zaillian scribed baseball drama starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright and old pal Philip Seymour Hoffman. Look for it to open wide September 23rd.
Fernando Meirelles's last effort Blindness was so critically destroyed I must admit I never bothered to watch it. Did anyone out there give it a thumbs up? Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster and, surprise, Eminem star in this tale of love around the world (or something). One bright spot might be that the film is written by Peter Morgan who has penned such recent Oscar bait as The Queen, Frost/Nixon and The Last King of Scotland.
THE IDES OF MARCH
It's the Hollywood heartthrob team up we've all been waiting for - and I'm not talking about co-stars Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. No this presidential candidacy drama stars Ryan Gosling alongside TWO-TIME People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive winner George Clooney. Gosling heads into this awards season looking for his first Sexiest Man Alive title - but he'll have to dethrone the king who also donned the director mantle for this one (a minor achievement after those two awards). The film also stars Marissa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood, both sexy in their own right, but I mean, they're no Clooney.
Trailer | Clip
Since Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is M.I.A., we'll just have to make do with this year's other British spy thriller to close out TIFF. Directed by David Hare, the film stars Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Judy Davis, Ralph Fiennes and new Brit babe on the block Felicity Jones.
MACHINE GUN PREACHER
Gerard Butler and director Marc Forster teaming up tell the story of an ex-biker-gang member who saves African orphans with his own unique form of vigilante justice (spoiler: it's a machine gun) might sound to some like a fate reserved for a dark corner of Hades. But just remember, one man's dark corner of Hades is another man's tolerable Marc Forster movie.
I really don't know what to expect from Francis Ford Coppola's latest narrative experiment, but I'm pretty excited to see what he can do with Elle Fanning playing the undead muse to a ponytailed Val Kilmer's frustrated novelist. This one is gonna be strange.
Other award hopeful flicks looking to score big with auds at TIFF include Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones starring in Tanya Wexler's clitoral tickler HYSTERIA, Roland Emmerich's Elizabethan period drama (yes, you read that correctly) ANONYMOUS starring Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave, and butter carving competition comedy BUTTER which stars Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Cordry and Kristen Schaal and is directed by Jim Field Smith who directed She's Out of My League.
Check back tomorrow as our series of TIFF 11 for '11 continues with The Fantastic Side of TIFF.