Kristen Wiig managed a well-deserved Oscar nomination earlier this year for co-writing "Bridesmaids," the film that propelled her into the A-list and paved the way for her to leave "Saturday Night Live" and focus her career on film full-time. While the first test of that trajectory comes with "American Splendor" directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's new film "Imogene," which world premieres at the festival. The film sees Wiig star as a playwright who stages a suicide in an attempt to win back her ex (Matt Dillon), only to wind up in the custody of her gambling-addict mother (Annette Bening).
One of the most buzzed about films heading into the Toronto, Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Impossible" could come out of the festival a major Oscar frontrunner. A narrative depiction of a real family's struggle in the Indian Ocean tsunami, it stars Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and newcomer Tom Holland (said to be incredible in the film). The recently released trailer certainly suggests "The Impossible" is the kind of heart-wrenching true-life drama the Oscars (and Toronto audiences) love, and word out of pre-festival screenings seems to line up with that idea.
"A Late Quartet"
Even if Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken and Mark Ivanir starred in a “Carnage”-style, single location drama where the four of them had a feature-length conversation about the weather or their favorite kinds of croissants, it would probably still be a worthy entry for this list. But as the main acclaimed string quartet, these four are the centerpiece for a series of dramatic events that plague the run-up to their 25th anniversary performance. With themes of fading artistic ability, repairing troubled marriages and coping with terminal disease, first-time feature director (and co-writer) Yaron Zilberman has some prime territory for poignancy, even though they’re not the most revolutionary of subplots. If the proceedings come off as overly saccharine or sentimental, it’s still nice to imagine a world where, on top of everything else, Walken is a world-renowned cellist.
"Monty Python" cast members John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam pay tribute to their late colleague Graham Chapman in this 3-D animated (and not entirely truthful) account of his life story. Directors Bill Jones (Terry Jones’ son), Ben Timlett and Jeff Simpson have utilized Chapman's own voice (from a recording of him reading the book the film is based on) as well as his former "Python" co-stars. They also used 14 different animation studios for various chapters of the story, making this "Untrue Story" a unique display of animation's many potential forms.
"The Lords of Salem"
Rob Zombie impressed many (us included) with his grisly and demented sophomore effort, "The Devil's Rejects," only to betray many admirers of that film with his tepid stab at the "Halloween" franchise. After helming the sequel to his reboot, "The Lords of Salem" finds Zombie back in non-remake mode with a gonzo tale that seems to have lot more in common with "Rejects" and his debut feature "House of 1000 Corpses," than his recent commercial output. In what seems like a perfect melding of Zombie's heavy metal background and horror sensibilities, "Lords" centers on a radio station DJ (Zombie's wife Sheri Moon Zombie), who's tormented by nightmares and hallucinations involving a coven of Salem witches, after coming across a sinister vinyl record.