By Nigel M. Smith and Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 5, 2013 at 8:50PM
The 38th Toronto International Film Festival gout underway today in Canada's largest city, and is there ever a lot to choose from. Over 11 days, the festival is offering up a whopping 288 feature films, a huge chunk of them world and international premieres.
Among the lineup there's new films from Ron Howard, Claire Denis, Kelly Reichardt, Nicole Holofcener, Atom Egoyan, Errol Morris, Xavier Dolan, Jason Reitman, Ralph Fiennes, Richard Ayoade, David Gordon Green, Alfonso Cuarón, Frederick Wiseman, Jonathan Glazer, Ti West, Hayao Miyazaki, Johnnie To, Alex Gibney, and directorial debuts of "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, as well as actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Keanu Reeves, Mike Myers and Jason Bateman.
So to help out those about to head Toronto way (or those simply curious), a few of Indiewire's staff members offered up some of the films they're most excited to see at the festival (focusing primarily on films that are making their debuts at the fest -- thus no "12 Years a Slave," "Blue Is The Warmest Color," "Gravity," etc...). From Ice-T and Peaches to Tolstoy and Shakespeare, here are 13 of them:
"August: Osage County"
Nothing world premiering at TIFF screams Oscar quite like "August: Osage County." Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts (who wrote the screenplay as well), the John Wells-directed, Weinstein Company-distributed film stars none other than Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts as an extremely dysfunctional mother and daughter (alongside Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis and Abigail Breslin). It's a dreamy, seemingly can't-go-wrong cast (though that doesn't necessarily mean it can't go wrong) and arguably the most anticipated debut of Toronto.
"Dallas Buyers Club"
Considering how few major American narrative films have tackled HIV/AIDS history -- especially in the past decade -- it's a little unnerving on the surface to see one finally arrive that tackles the epidemic, and from the perspective of a womanizing, homophobic man who, in 1986, was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS. The real-life story sees him come to terms with his homophobia through his experiences smuggling alternative medicine with an HIV positive transexual woman (played by Jared Leto) -- which could prove a bit trying if it overdoes a tolerance theme. But the director (Quebec's Jean-Marc Vallée, who made "C.R.A.Z.Y."), and the cast (Matthew McConaughey plays the lead) are promising enough to make us have hope this doesn't turn into a "Philadelphia" for the 2010s.
"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"
Clocking in at a whopping 190 minutes, this massively ambitious two-part film from first timer Ned Benson examines the dissolution of a marriage from the different perspectives of each half of the couple (they're played by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy). Screening at the festival as a "work in progress," it no doubt is one of the big question marks of the festival. But given the talent attached (Viola Davis, William Hurt and Chastain's acting icon Isabelle Huppert round out out the stellar cast), signs point to something special and adventurous. How the film will fare once it enters the marketplace is anyone's guess given its two-part nature, so the festival setting might make for an ideal venue to view this work.