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TIFF Wish List: 30 Films to Watch for in Toronto

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 2, 2009 at 3:49AM

In celebration of Canada Day, indieWIRE is offering some speculation on the country's biggest celebration of film, the Toronto International Film Festival. The fest started announcing titles last week, and will be announcing a big block of programming at its July 14th press conference. The 34th edition of the fest runs September 10 - 19, and while it's essentially assured a large number of Cannes and Berlin titles will have their North American premieres there - from Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" to Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" to Andrea Arnold's already announced "Fish Tank," the following list focuses on the films few among us have seen.
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In celebration of Canada Day, indieWIRE is offering some speculation on the country's biggest celebration of film, the Toronto International Film Festival. The fest started announcing titles last week, and will be announcing a big block of programming at its July 14th press conference. The 34th edition of the fest runs September 10 - 19, and while it's essentially assured a large number of Cannes and Berlin titles will have their North American premieres there - from Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" to Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" to Andrea Arnold's already announced "Fish Tank," the following list focuses on the films few among us have seen.

As we're all aware, Toronto is a huge launching pad for fall fare, particularly those gunning for Oscar gold (three of the five past best picture winners have screened there), so it's possible a good portion of Oscar's top ten could very well come from this wish list of TIFF premieres (the lists links to film pages in the indieWIRE Calendar for more information).

The Opening Film?

Atom Egoyan's last six feature films - going all the way back to 1994's "Exotica" - have all premiered at Cannes. But "Chloe," a thriller with uncharacteristically high star wattage for Egoyan (Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, and Amanda Seyfried), is apparently ready to go and Cannes 2010 is a long way off. The opening night slot of TIFF is reserved for homegrown fare (though this is a US/Canada co-pro), so it seems like a reasonable suggestion that "Chloe" could be it.

Chloe, directed by Atom Egoyan


The Oscar Campaigns Begin...

Lately there's always been a few heavy hitters that steer clear of the Venice-Toronto-Telluride triad, whether its because the film simply isn't finished yet, or because it probably wouldn't benefit from the potentially slippery slope that is festival buzz. This year, it's likely we won't see the likes of Martin Scorcese's "Shutter Island" (Scorcese rarely ever debuts his films at festivals), Clint Eastwoods's "Invictus," or Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" until they hit theaters.

A scene from Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant." Image courtesy of Warner Brothers.

However, here's a list of 12 films that are more likely to take a trip to Toronto (even if some of them hit Venice or Telluride first), from the Coen Brothers latest to Mira Nair's Amelia Earhart biopic to a promising double dose of Matt Damon via his "Ocean's" and "Bourne" trilogy directors Steven Soderbergh and Paul Greengrass. It would be surprising if at least 8 of them don't end up in the lineup, even Rob Marshall's "Nine" - which if it learned anything from recent Oscar-bait musicals "Dreamgirls" and "Sweeney Todd," playing the waiting game doesn't always work out for the best.

Amelia, directed by Mira Nair

Biutiful, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Brothers, directed by Jim Sheridan

Dear John, directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Green Zone, directed by Paul Greengrass

The Informant, directed by Steven Soderbergh

Love Ranch, directed by Taylor Hackford

Nine, directed by Rob Marshall

Ondine, directed by Neil Jordan

The Road, directed by John Hillcoat

A Serious Man, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor

-- on page two, potential surprises, docs and more --

The Potential Surprises

As we all know, "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Juno" are just two of the most prominent examples of films that would never have been on the awards season likely list, but they ended up being huge Oscar contenders. So here's a list of ten less-than-sure bets that could surprise, from bizarre projects from well-respected filmmakers (Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"), to follow ups to bizarre - and divisive - projects from (once?) promising filmmakers (Kelly's "The Box"), to first time filmmakers ("Good Night and Good Luck" writer Grant Heslov's "The Men Who Stare At Goats"; Mark Ruffalo's debut, "Sympathy For Delicious"). Many of the listed films don't have distributors - Oliver Dahan's "My Own Love Song" and Dagur Kari's "The Good Heart," for example, so these could also be the sources of potential bidding wars.

A scene from Richard Kelly's "The Box." Image courtesy of Warner Brothers.


All Good Things, directed by Andrew Jarecki

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, directed by Werner Herzog

The Box, directed by Richard Kelly

Crazy Heart, directed by Scott Cooper

Desert Flower, directed by Sherry Hormann

The Good Heart, directed by Dagur Kari

The Last Station, directed by Michael Hoffman

The Men Who Stare At Goats, directed by Grant Heslov

My Own Love Song, directed by Oliver Dahan

Sympathy For Delicious, directed by Mark Ruffalo


The Docs About The Economy

While Michael Moore's latest, as-yet-untitled project is sure to be the talk of Toronto, Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki, and Morgan Spurlock's joint project - an adaptation of the hugely popular economics tome "Freakonomics" - is definitely one to look out for.

Untitled Michael Moore Project, directed by Michael Moore

Freakonomics, directed by Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki and Morgan Spurlock


The "Juno" Reunion

Two years after "Juno" became the belle of the TIFF ball, there's likely to be quite the Toronto reunion of folks from the film. Jason Reitman's follow-up feature "Up In The Air," starring George Clooney, and Diablo Cody's second script, "Jennifer's Body," starring Megan Fox, are both good bets to be in the lineup, as are new features from Jason Bateman (who stars in both "Up In The Air" and Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson's "The Invention of Lying"), Jennifer Garner (also in "Lying"), Michael Cera (in Miguel Arteta's "Youth in Revolt"), and "Juno" herself, Ellen Page, in Drew Barrymore's directorial debut "Whip It!"

A scene from Karyn Kusama's "Jennifer's Body." Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight.


The Invention of Lying, directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson

Jennifer's Body, directed by Karyn Kusama

Up In The Air, directed by Jason Reitman

Whip It, directed by Drew Barrymore

Youth In Revolt, directed by Miguel Arteta


The "Wild" Card

Because it doesn't really belong in any of the categories, and because the pun was just so easy... Will Spike Jonze's hugely anticipated "Where The Wild Things Are" hit the festival circuit before its October release?:

Where The Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze

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