By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire September 5, 2012 at 11:56AM
The 37th Toronto International Film Festival gets underway tomorrow night in Canada's largest city, and is there ever a lot to choose from. Over 11 days, the festival is offering up a whopping 289 feature films and 83 shorts, a huge chunk of them world and international premieres.
Among the lineup there's new films from Ben Affleck, Deepa Mehta, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, David O. Russell, Joe Wright, Xavier Dolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, Ramin Bahrani, Neil Jordan, Mira Nair, Robert Redford, Cate Shortland, Harmony Korine, Susanne Bier, Sarah Polley, Francois Ozon, Joss Whedon, Derek Cianfrance, Walter Salles, Noah Baumbach, Sally Potter and Terrence Malick, among many, many others.
So to help out those about to head Toronto way (or those simply curious), a few of Indiewire's staff members offered up a couple of the films they're most excited to see at the festival. From Ice-T and Peaches to Tolstoy and Shakespeare, here are 25 of them:
After it premiered in October 2009, ESPN’s “30 for 30” provided a series of sports-centric documentaries that, while not universally successful, did manage to produce some episodes that made athletic tales compelling even for viewers who would never voluntarily flip to the channel. (If you haven’t yet set aside an hour and fifteen minutes for “Winning Time,” your Netflix Instant queue beckons.) Round two of the series begins in a few weeks with “Broke,” a film that played at Tribeca earlier in the year, but installment #2 is this retelling of the men’s 100 meter final at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Interviewing all eight men who took part, the film covers not just the race, but the ensuing controversy caused when winner Ben Johnson (who spanned the distance in the titular amount of seconds) tested positive for steroids. If early footage is any indication, this may be one of the entries in the series that prove it was worthy of its 2010 Peabody Award.
After the found-footage anthology horror film "V/H/S" surprised many at Sundance by being arguably the scariest of the genre to come out in ages, you can bet we're excited to see if "The ABCs of Death" -- another horror feature in the same vein -- lives up the acclaim set by its predecessor. Like "V/H/S," "ABCs" is comprised of short films, each helmed by an established filmmaker. For "ABCs," 26 directors (including Ben Wheatley, Ti West and Jason Eisener) were each assigned a letter of the alphabet and accompanying word, leaving it up to the director to come up with a short story of death. With "V/H/S" distributor Magnet already on board, and Alamo Drafhouse founder Tim League producing, all signs are pointing to this being a scary and inventive delight for true fans of the genre.
Joe Wright is nothing if not a visual master. Even if you're not a fan of some of his output ("Pride & Prejudice," "Atonement," "The Soloist" and "Hanna"), there's no denying his remarkable flair for the cinematic. His take on "Anna Karenina" looks to be most visually breathtaking effort yet, and that's saying a lot. Despite Wright's risky choice to keep this adaptation, written by Tom Stoppard, stage-bound for the most part (early reviews indicate that the massive stage on which the film is set, opens up onto real-life locations for select scenes), his "Anna Karenina" looks ambitious in scope, with gorgeous set and costume design to boot. And Keira Knightley, who Wright directed to winning effect in both "Pride & Prejudice" and "Atonement," looks like she was born to play the doomed heroine.
It may seem like a trivial observation, but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive golf movie. While Dante Ariola’s feature-length directorial debut might not have enough sports action to reach the iconic level of “Hoosiers” or “Field of Dreams,” a cast that features Colin Firth, Emily Blunt and Anne Heche isn’t a shabby place to start. It’s possible that the shortening of the film from its original title, “Arthur Newman, Golf Pro” might be an indication that the focus is less on birdies and bogeys than the film’s central relationship. But the idea of Firth and Blunt getting a chance to add an entry into the darkly comic side of their ledgers is intriguing enough, even if the title character (who Firth’s Wally apparently invents during a mid-life crisis) never picks up a 3 wood.
The Oscar-winning director of “Diner,” “The Natural,” “Rain Man” and “Bugsy” made a low-budget found-footage thriller? The curiosity factor is high for this Midnight Madness selection about a Maryland town that descends into chaos when a deadly parasite hits the shore, not least because Barry Levinson hasn’t had a critical and commercial success in nearly two decades. The genre sidebar slot gives the project, which was written by rookie scribe Michael Wallach and produced by low-budget horror aficionados Jason Blum and Steven Schneider (“Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious”), a credibility boost ahead of its Lionsgate theatrical release November 2.