The Toronto International Film Festival just released the names of the first round of films that will be heating up TIFF 2013 this September when the highly anticipated film festival takes over the town. The headliners are huge, the directors are Oscar-worthy, and the inevitable scene here in Toronto this September is going to be out of control. Here are the 18 TIFF 2013 films we’re most excited for and why…
The Fifth Estate | Bill Condon, USA, World Premiere (Opening Night Film)
How TIFF describes it: “Triggering an age of high-stakes secrecy, explosive news leaks and the trafficking of classified information, WikiLeaks forever changed the game. This dramatic thriller based on real events reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organization. The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations combined. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of modern time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society — and what are the costs of exposing them? The film also stars David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie and Dan Stevens.”
Why we’re excited: 2013 is the official Year of Benedict Cumberbatch, and the actor as Julian Asange is going to be career-making.
12 Years a Slave | Steve McQueen, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “12 Years a Slave tells the incredible true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841 and finally freed in 1853. The story is a triumphant tale of one man’s courage and perseverance to reunite with his family that serves as an important historical and cultural marker in American history. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong’o, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams and Alfre Woodard.”
Why we’re excited: Um, did you look at the credits?
Bad Words | Jason Bateman, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “After discovering a loophole in the rules of the National Spelling Bee, a disruptive 40-year-old, Guy Trilby, dominates the pre-pubescent competition. An unlikely friendship occurs, however, when an awkward Indian boy is taken with Guy’s rough edges. Meanwhile, a female reporter uncovers Guy’s true motivation for competing. Starring Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, Phillip Baker Hall, Kathryn Hahn and Rohan Chand.”
Why we’re excited: Jason Bateman in the director’s seat = about time.
Can a Song Save Your Life? | John Carney, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Can a Song Save Your Life? finds Gretta (Keira Knightley) alone in New York City after being heartbroken by her musician boyfriend (Adam Levine). She finds laughter and rejuvenation with a down-on-his-luck record producer (Mark Ruffalo) who recognizes her musical talent and opens up an entire city of possibility for both of them.”
Why we’re excited: Adam Levine testing out his serious acting chops opposite Oscar-nominee Keira Knightley in a movie about music? We wouldn’t miss this even if it premiered during The Voice finale.
Dallas Buyers Club | Jean-Marc Vallée, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “In this fact-based drama, Matthew McConaughey portrays real-life Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, an ordinary man who found himself in a life-or-death battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies. In 1985, Ron was blindsided with an HIV diagnosis and given 30 days to live. With medications still restricted in the US and the country still divided over how to combat the virus, Ron procured non-toxic alternative treatments from all over the world through both legal and illegal means. To avoid government sanctions against selling non-approved medicines and supplements, Ron established a ‘buyers club’ for fellow HIV-positive people, giving them access to his supplies. Also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto.”
Why we’re excited: Any movie that involves two of the main actors losing ridiculous amounts of weight to prove they deserve Oscars is reason enough to us.
Devil’s Knot | Atom Egoyan, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “A haunting true mystery about the infamous killing of three children in a small Arkansas town. The police charge and convict three teens, aka the West Memphis Three, for committing the murders during an alleged satanic ritual, but a mother and investigator suspect that the truth may be even worse. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Kevin Durand, Bruce Greenwood, Mireille Enos, Dane DeHaan and Stephen Moyer.”
Why we’re excited: Hometown boy Atom Egoyan keeps getting bigger while staying true to his Canadian roots. We couldn’t be more proud.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her | Ned Benson, USA
How TIFF describes it: “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her is a two-part love story seen through the eyes of a New York couple trying to understand each other as they cope with personal hardship. The different perspectives of ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ result in two films with a unique look into one couple’s attempt to reclaim the life and love they once had. Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, and Jess Weixler.”
Why we’re excited: Jessica Chastain is fighting hard for that Oscar until she gets it, and we want to be along for the ride.
Dom Hemingway | Richard Shepard, United Kingdom, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Dom Hemingway is a larger-than-life safecracker with a loose fuse who is funny, profane, and dangerous. After 12 years in prison, looking to collect what he’s owed for keeping his mouth shut for protecting his rich mobster boss, he finds himself drawn back to the perils and pleasures of his criminal lifestyle — while trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Starring Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Kerry Condon, Jumayn Hunter, Madalina Ghenea and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.”
Why we’re excited: Jude Law is a staple at TIFF, and ya gotta give him props for that.
Don Jon | Joseph Gordon-Levitt, USA, Canadian Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to ‘pull’ a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy.”
Why we’re excited: JGL in the director’s seat and Scarlett Johansson on the big screen? Hipster meets bombshell? It’s like Lost in Translation is happening to us all over again.
The Double | Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon’s exact physical double and his opposite — confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon’s horror, James slowly starts taking over his life. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn and Noah Taylor.”
Why we’re excited: Two words: Jesse Eisenberg.
Labor Day | Jason Reitman, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Labor Day centres on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler as he confronts the pangs of adolescence while struggling to be the man of the house and care for his reclusive mother, Adele. On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers, a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and later is revealed to be an escaped convict. The events of this long Labor Day weekend will shape all of them for the rest of their lives. Starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, JK Simmons, Brooke Smith and James Van Der Beek.”
Why we’re excited: Reitman and Winslet together is an Oscar match made in heaven
Only Lovers Left Alive | Jim Jarmusch, USA, North American Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them? Starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt and Anton Yelchin.”
Why we’re excited: There is only one Tilda Swinton.
Prisoners | Denis Villeneuve, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “How far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child’s life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? Also features Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard.”
Why we’re excited: This Quebecois director is Hollywood’s next big thing.
Third Person | Paul Haggis, Belgium, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Love, passion, mystery, betrayal and hope infuse Paul Haggis’ new feature, which follows the interrelated stories of three couples in three cities, Rome, New York and Paris — each with its own secrets. Starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello, Kim Basinger and Moran Atias.”
Why we’re excited: Another Canadian director – this time an Oscar winner – to inflate our sense of patriotism.
August: Osage County | John Wells, USA, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “August: Osage County tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award–winning 2007 play of the same name. Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard and Chris Cooper.”
Why we’re excited: Ewan McGregor is the most under-rated actor of our time.
The Grand Seduction | Don McKellar, Canada, World Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “The tiny Newfoundland outport of Tickle Head is set for financial salvation if they can secure a petrochemical plant. Their odds are slim, as a town doctor is needed to land the contract. When one candidate, Dr. Paul Lewis, lands in their lap, the town rallies to seduce him to stay beyond his one-month trial. Paul’s fondness for the village grows as the month passes — though he’s clueless to the fact that everything he has grown to love is an elaborate web of lies. Starring Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch, Gordon Pinsent, Liane Balaban and Mark Critch.”
Why we’re excited: Liane Balaban is the Canadian answer to Natalie Portman.
Kill Your Darlings | John Krokidas, USA, International Premiere
How TIFF describes it: “Kill Your Darlings is the true story of friendship and murder that led to the birth of an entire generation. This is the previously untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that would lead to their Beat Revolution. Also stars Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick and John Cullum.”
Why we’re excited: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg will most definitely be interesting, but Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac is going to be the breakout performance.
Life of Crime | Daniel Schechter, USA, World Premiere (Closing Night Film)
How TIFF describes it: “Based on the novel The Switch, by Elmore Leonard, Louis (John Hawkes) and Ordell (yasiin bey, a.k.a. Mos Def) – two common criminals in 1970s Detroit – kidnap the housewife (Jennifer Aniston) of a corrupt real estate developer (Tim Robbins) and hold her for ransom. Also stars Isla Fisher, Will Forte, and Mark Boone Jr.”
Why we’re excited: While we secretly pretend to find Jennifer Aniston over-rated, we never miss a film she’s in.