Recap of Highlights of the Toronto International Film Festival


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All week, movie critics have been spending time north of the border to check out screenings of the most anticipated upcoming films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF is the place where the most buzzed-about films of the coming fall and winter are first screened, and the reactions of those who attend can be good indications of which movies and performances will find themselves in contention come Oscar time. So let me recap for all you Fansided devotees some of the biggest movies and performances to look forward to coming out of TIFF.

Three films by and large seem to be getting the biggest share of the praise from attendees. The first is Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which I previewed briefly in my Fall Movie Preview a couple weeks ago. All indications are that the dizzying trailers that have been released so far are only a taste of the tension and anxiety Cuaron creates in the film. Word is that the special effects are phenomenal (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen any footage from the film) and that Sandra Bullock gives an excellent performance. This is, again, one of the upcoming movies I’m most excited about, and it seems that all the hype is justified.

The second movie earning a ton of positive buzz is August: Osage County, based on a play about a dysfunctional family reuniting for the father’s funeral. The cast of this movie is simply huge, rife with talented actors that apparently give top-of-their-game type performances. Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Cooper headline a deep cast, and the consensus seems to be that at the very least Streep, Roberts, and Cooper will all be receiving Oscar nominations next year. There have been a few movies recently – The Master, Silver Linings Playbook, Doubt – to have three or more of their stars nominated for the big awards, and it looks like August: Osage County will join that list, and perhaps even deliver a film whose whole is as great as its individual parts.

And finally, the film getting talked about most when the words “Best Picture” come into play is 12 Years a Slave. Director Steve McQueen’s film tells the real-life story of Solomon Northup, who was a free black man kidnapped into slavery in the 1800s. The film apparently pulls exactly zero punches when telling Northup’s terrifying story, which is sure to make it one of the more brutal movie-going experiences of the season. But most TIFF attendees seem to agree that McQueen has crafted a powerful, intense, and moving story, and he’s aided by extraordinary performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role and regular McQueen collaborator Michael Fassbender as the cruel slave master. Going by TIFF reactions, if there’s one movie you see this fall, make it 12 Years a Slave.

Several notable individual performances have been highlighted outside these three films. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are apparently superb in Dallas Buyers Club, based on a true story about McConaughey’s HIV-positive Ron Woodroof trying to find accessible treatments for the disease in the mid-‘80s. Others to look out for are Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley in Can a Song Save Your Life? (awful title, but supposedly a touching movie along the lines of Once, which was also directed by John Carney), and Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Those are some of the big stories coming out of Canada this week – what movies are you looking forward to most?

Tags: Movies