Every September, as the summer movie season comes to a close, all eyes of the cinema loving community turn their attention to the film festivals that start off awards season. One of the most eagerly anticipated is the Toronto International Film Festival. For Oscar lovers, in particular, it can be a very significant indication of what the voters of the Academy Awards might go for. As usual, there was a lot of hype, with plenty of disappointments, unexpected hits, and split decisions.
Today, I’ll be talking about my seven most anticipated movies coming from the festival, and my reasons for why. Think of this as an updated version of my most anticipated movies of the year post.
The latest from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis seems to be the Never Let Me Go of Sci-Fi. The mightily ambitious adaptation of the 2004 novel divided audience opinions. The film features an all star cast (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Hugo Weaving among others) as multiple characters in separate timelines and universes, all interconnected in some way. Critics who liked it found it a profound and fascinating experience, with Roger Ebert making comparisons to Kubrick’s 2001. Those who disliked it thought that it was brought down by the screenplay, thinking it a mess. Still, the editing, visual effects, and makeup (with some actors looking completely unrecognizable in certain timelines) were lauded.
I wouldn’t even need critical reception and buzz to get excited for this movie. The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson’s hotly anticipated follow up to his 2007 classic There Will Be Blood. In the film, a disturbed World War II Navy veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) teams up with a man (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in creating a new religion called “The Cause”. The film is said to mirror the origins of Scientology, and is noted for its tension and issues of mental illness. It’s also said that Phoenix and Hoffman give career best performances, which is high praise.
The Place Beyond the Pines:
I never bothered to see Blue Valentine, but Derek Cianfrance’s latest is sure getting me pumped, especially with all the great word of mouth. Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider considering robbing a bank to provide for his child, during which he crosses paths with a young cop (Bradley Cooper). Sound a little like Drive? Those who saw it also see that influence, but say that it also recalls legendary crime movies like The Godfather, and that Gosling and Cooper give strong performances. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until 2013 to see it, which is when Focus Features intends to release it.
Rust & Bone:
This one carried its way over from my most anticipated list, and my anticipation for it is even higher now, with reviews as strong as they were in Cannes. The story is about a killer whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) who suffers leg injuries, and is aided by a young man (Matthias Schoenaerts) who lives with his sister. The latest from Jacques Audiard (director of A Prophet) is said to be a gripping, gradual, and genuine portrayal of love, with fantastic leading performances from Cotillard and Schoenaerts. Some have even said that Cotillard could win a second Oscar for the film.
Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges is one of the most underrated movies of the last decade, and even if his follow up, Seven Psychopaths, isn’t quite as strong, it’s still leaving people in fits of laughter. Colin Farrell plays a struggling writer, whose best friend (Sam Rockwell) specializes in ransoming dogs, and his latest target just happens to be the prized Shih-Tzu of a hostile gangster (Woody Harrelson). The script is said to be a zany, entertaining, and funny ride, with typically strong performances from its cast, especially Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson.
Silver Linings Playbook:
The follow up to director David O’Russell’s The Fighter, and the most unexpected hit from the event, Silver Linings Playbook was the winner of the People’s Choice Award, previously won by eventual Best Picture winners The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire. A man (Bradley Cooper) moves in with his parents after spending time in a mental institution, and finds a kindred spirit within a girl with her own problems (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie received unanimous critical approval, with significant praise going to Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and especially Jennifer Lawrence, who was singled out as giving one of the year’s best performances. Chalk it up as my new most anticipated movie of the year.
To the Wonder:
What else is new for Terrence Malick? Critical opinions of his latest movie were split right down the middle, even more so than Cloud Atlas. The closest thing to a story this movie has is of a man who is getting out of a failed relationship with a European woman, and reconnects with a woman from his hometown. There’s no doubt that Malick’s latest looks great, as they always do. But for this particular movie, I’m still worried. Even though some who liked it called it a worthy companion to The Tree of Life, others disliked it, noting its meandering narrative and unintentionally funny dialogue. This makes me wonder if Terry should have spent a couple more years in the editing room.
Honorable Mentions: Anna Karenina, Frances Ha, Looper.