While Criticwire polled a number of critics about their most-awaited films for the whole fall movie season, ScreenCrush looked to a crucial period for the season that’s just around the corner: the Toronto International Film Festival. Mike Ryan asked 14 critics which films they were most looking forward to over the next two weeks at TIFF. The full survey is here, but here’s a tally of the films with the most mentions.
5: “While We’re Young,” “Wild”
4: “Foxcatcher,” “Rosewater”
3: “Eden,” “The Imitation Game,” “The Judge,” “Nightcrawler,” “St. Vincent”
2: “Big Game,” “Black and White,” “The Cobbler,” “The Humbling,” “Men, Women & Children,” “99 Homes,” “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” “Top Five”
No huge surprise that Noah Baumbach’s latest tied for the most mentions, given the love for “Frances Ha” (heavily mentioned as an influencing factor for these critics). Early reviews out of Telluride for “Wild” mostly praised Witherspoon’s performance while criticizing the film, but most of the anticipation here is for Witherspoon anyway, with both Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair and Chris Rosen of The Huffington post crossing their fingers for a McConaughey-like Renaissance (Rosen: “A Reesissanace? A Spoonaissance? I’ll work on the pun during the next five months”).
The other widely anticipated films range from possible Oscar contenders (“Foxcatcher,” “The Judge”) to more idiosyncratic fare (“A Pigeon Sat…,” the latest Roy Andersson joint). Both of Adam Sandler’s TIFF movies got a pair of mentions, suggesting that not everyone has given up hope that the Sandler of “Punch-Drunk Love” has disappeared into the Happy Madison rabbit hole. That said, the critics aren’t immune to enjoyable trash, which is what a couple are hoping for in the Midnight Madness selection “Big Game” (logline: Samuel L. Jackson is the President of the United States, Air Force One has been shot down).
What’s more of interest here are the films that got single mentions, which the critics make impassioned cases for. Here’s Scott Tobias of The Dissolve writing about why he’s more interested in Lav Diaz’s 5-and-a-half hour butt-number “From What is Before” than the likes of “Foxcatcher” and “Rosewater”:
I somehow have two clear opportunities to see Lav Diaz’s five-and-a-half hour “From What Is Before,” which just picked up top prize at Locarno and will likely present a distribution challenge even to Cinema Guild, which release Diaz’s slender, four-hour “Norte, The End Of History” earlier this year. I had my issues with “Norte,” particularly once its spiritual components surface in Hour Four, but Diaz’s sense of time, culture, and history, combined with an impeccable eye for composition, has me excited to see another. Add to that the particulars of “From What Is Before” — black-and-white photography, a remote village setting, the historic moment before Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in Diaz’s native The Philippines in 1972—and outstanding reviews out of Locarno, and that’s emerging as a clear event for me.
Criticwire’s own Sam Adams picked three movies that no one else mentioned:
Narrowing one’s TIFF list down to a title or two is a tough practice, but I think I can winnow it to three: Julie Taymor’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which captures her own over-the-top production of Shakespeare’s wildest comedy; Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language,” which finds the crotchety ciné-philosopher playing games with 3D photography; and the slimmed-down director’s cut of Neil Young’s “Human Highway,” a loopy post-apocalyptic rock ‘n’ roll fable co-starring Russ Tamblyn and Devo.
Mike Hogan of Vanity Fair is mostly curious about James Marsh’s latest attempt at a narrative film:
I’m most interested in finding out whether ‘The Theory of Everything’ is the next “A Beautiful Mind,” in which case I think Eddie Redmayne will be an unstoppable force in the Oscar race for Best Actor, or the next “Saving Mr. Banks,” in which case I will regret ever writing this sentence.
Matt Patches of IGN wrote about a couple of idiosyncratic picks alongside “Foxcatcher” and “The Cobbler,” not to mention his desire to be floored by an unknown:
Though Illustrator-turned-filmmaker Dave McKean’s 2005 animation/live-action hybrid “MirrorMask” didn’t coalesce into greatness, it was dazzling and imaginative enough that “Luna,” his tale of aging artists reuniting, demands attention;’ And then “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” a Studio Ghibli (RIP) production from “Grave of Fireflies” director Isao Takahata that looks like a watercolor come to life. If I find time to stumble into something I’ve never heard of, have my mind blown without any anticipation, that’ll be pure joy.
Finally, here’s Blackfilm’s Wilson Morales on an under-the-radar title that might be worth a look:
“Beyond the Lights,” directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and Minnie Driver. It’s not an awards contender and it’s NOT a biopic, which is rare these days for an African American director getting a film released by a distributor (Relativity). Unlike last year’s “12 Years a Slave” and “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” here’s a film that can hopefully be fun, romantic and not have a lot of pressure of getting the story right.