It’s here. It’s huge. It’s Toronto. September 4th is the start date of the largest and quite possibly most important film festival in North America. TIFF has historically been a launching pad for Oscar hopefuls as well as smaller indie films seeking distribution and this year’s event is no different and looks like a massive undertaking on paper. Fear not citizens, Box Office Insider is here to help guide you through each day at the Fest.
Deep breath…okay here we go…
OPENING DAY–THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 4TH
THE JUDGE–Opening Night Selection—Robert Downey Jr travels to his midwest hometown for his mother’s funeral and becomes embroiled in a murder case involving his ex-judge father (Robert Duvall)
THE HUMBLING—Offbeat love story from director Barry Levinson, starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig. Screenplay by Buck Henry.
CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA—Aging actress (Juliette Binoche) attempts to deal with temperamental co-star (Chloe Grace Moretz) while rehearsing in the Sils Maria region of the Alps. Oscar talk for Binoche
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 5TH
NIGHTCRAWLER—Dan Gilroy directed drama features Jake Gyllenhaal as a freelance photographer lost in the underbelly of Los Angeles.
THE DROP–James Gandolfini’s final role. Mob thriller starring Tom Hardy
ST. VINCENT–Plenty of Oscar buzz for Bill Murray’s performance as the slob-next-door who befriends suddenly single mom Melissa McCarthy and her son. Look for this to screen especially well.
RUTH AND ALEX—Richard Loncraine (“Firewall”, “Brimstone and Treacle”) directs Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman in this story of two longtime New Yorkers who finally decide to flee the city.
Now rest up because things get frantic from this point forward
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 6TH
PRIDE—Striking miners in Britain gain support from a Gay and Lesbian group during Margaret Thatcher’s reign of terror. Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy co-star
BEYOND THE LIGHTS–Hot new singer Noni Jean (“Belle” star Guga Mbatha-Raw) struggles with her sudden rise to fame. Minnie Driver co-stars
MANGLEHORN–Romantic drama from director David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express”, “Joe”) with Al Pacino and Holly Hunter
THE FACE OF AN ANGEL–Journalist and documentary filmmaker chase the story of the Amanda Knox murder (you might have heard of it). Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Bruhl (“Rush”) star.
ROGER WATERS THE WALL–Documentary focusing on ex-Pink Floyd leader’s 2013 world tour
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG–Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”, “Margot at the Wedding”) helms Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in this story of an uptight couple whose life begins to open up when two free spirits enter their lives.
TOP FIVE—Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock,Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist forces him to confront both the career that made him famous and the life he left behind.
BLACK AND WHITE–Kevin Costner custody battle drama from director Mike Binder (“The Upside of Anger”, “Reign O’er Me”)
KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET–Animated series of episodes from the classic text by the Lebanese writer.and poet Voices include Quvenzhane Wallis and Liam Neeson
MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN—One of the most highly anticipated offerings at TIFF this year, Canadian Jason Reitman’s look at how technology affects both parents and children. Emma Thompson, Adam Sandler and Ansel Elgort star. A must-see at the fest.
THE SOUND AND THE FURY—James Franco take on the William Faulkner novel
TUSK—Director Kevin Smith’s horror/thriller with Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 7TH
HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS–Simon Pegg leaves his psychiatrist life behind to find the secret for happiness
THE GOOD LIE–Reese Witherspoon adopts a Sudanese refugee
MISS JULIE–Legendary actress Liv Ullman directs Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell in this historical romance
TIME OUT OF MIND—Richard Gere plays a homeless New Yorker trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Jena Malone)
LOVE AND MERCY—Bill Pohlad directs Paul Dano and John Cusack as younger and older versions of Beach Boys’ founder Brian Wilson
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING–Another TIFF film that’s high on awards buzz, Eddie Redmayne stars as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as his wife Jane. Director James Marsh was responsible for 2008’s terrific, “Man on Wire”.
THE EQUALIZER–Home Depot employee Denzel Washington moonlights as savior of prostitute-on-the-run (Chole Grace Moretz) in this update of the 1980’s Edward Woodward TV classic. Note: this is not officially in the job description of Home Depot employees.
THE LAST FIVE YEARS—Anna Kendrick stars as a struggling actress who looks back at the last five years of her relationship with her novelist lover.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 8TH
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU–Family dramedy from director Shawn Levy whose ultra-cool cast includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda.
CAKE—Director Daniel Barnz’s suicide mystery drama with Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick and Sam Worthington
MR. TURNER–One of the most talked about screenings at Cannes was this Mike Leigh biopic of British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, portrayed brilliantly (he won Best Actor at the festival) by Timothy Spall (forever to be remembered as Posh Fruit in 1998’s “Still Crazy”)
STILL ALICE–Julianne Moore stars as a college professor absorbed with battling the onset of Alzheimers. Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin co-star
A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM–Julie Taymor returns to the big screen with this adaptation of the Shakespeare classic.
ROSEWATER–“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with this retelling of the imprisonment of Iranian journalist Mazian Bahari
FOXCATCHER–Huge awards buzz on this Bennett Miller directed story of the wrestling Schultz Brothers and their relationship with billionaire John du Pont. Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are all high on Oscar hopeful lists
WILD–Jean Marc Vallee’s follow-up to “Dallas Buyers Club” stars Reese Witherspoon in the true story of Cheryl Strayed’s 1,000 mile hike of self-awareness
WHIPLASH–Put this one on your list. Miles Teller plays a young drummer who’s driven to success by his enigmatic teacher (J.K. Simmons, who might very well step from Farmers Insurance ads to Awards season)
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 9TH
LEARNING TO DRIVE–Is there an accent that Ben Kingsley cannot do? Sir Ben plays a Sikh driving instructor who teaches New Yorker Patricia Clarkson to drive after her husband leaves her.
THE IMITATION GAME–Another one not to be missed. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays code breaker Alan Turing who helped crack the Enigma code in WWII and then ended up being prosecuted for his homosexuality.
MAPS TO THE STARS—The always bizarre David Cronenberg directs Julianne Moore (who won Best Actress in Cannes) in this lurid tale of Hollywood stars and wanna-be’s.
GOOD KILL–Andrew Niccol reteams with his “Gattaca” star Ethan Hawke for this terrorist thriller
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 10TH
A good day to catch your breath and have a Molson or two. There’s only…
LAGGIES–Looking-at-my-life comedy from director Lynn Shelton (“Your Sister’s Sister”, TV’s “The New Girl”) and starring Keira Knightley and (yes, you guessed it) Chloe Grace Moretz.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 11TH
ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOT—Surfer discovers that his girlfriend’s uncle is none other than Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. My uncle worked at Shick. It’s not quite the same. Josh Hutcherson and Benicio del Toro star.
PAWN SACRIFICE–Legendary director Edward Zwick (“Glory”) helms this story of the famous 1970’s chess match between American Bobby Fischer and Russian Boris Spassky. Tobey Maguire plays Fischer, Liev Schreiber portrays Spassky. If there was ever a movie that could make chess look interesting, this is it.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 12TH
THE SEARCH–“The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius’s drama surrounding the 1999 Russian takeover of Chechnya
MAGGIE–For my money, the oddest major star film of the fest. Midwest farmer (Arnold Schwarzenegger, hopefully not attempting a midwest accent) deals with cannibalistic zombie teen daughter (Abigail Breslin). I know what you’re thinking, yes another one of those movies.
THE CONNECTION—Speaking of “The Artist”, Jean Dujardin takes on the role of cop entrusted with bringing down The French Connection
THE FORGER–Museum heist thriller with John Travolta, Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheriden (“Mud”)
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 13TH
SHELTER–Actor Paul Bettany’s directorial debut is this romantic drama starring wife Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie
A LITTLE CHAOS–Closing Night selection. Alan Rickman’s second crack in the director’s chair stars Kate Winslet in this lush period drama that revolves around the decoration of King Louis XIV’s Versailles palace. If there was ever a movie that could make interior decorating look….oh wait, I’ve already used that one.