×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

TIFF 2017: 20 Films We Can’t Wait to See, From ‘mother!’ to ‘The Shape of Water’ and Many More

Plus: A Midnight Madness opener of a unexpected stripe, incendiary new documentaries, and big names back on the festival circuit.

“Stronger”

The hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber was the subject of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg’s “Patriots Day,” and now David Gordon Green tackles the tragic event from a more intimate angle. “Stronger” stars Jake Gyllenhaal in the true story of Jeff Bauman (Gyllenhaal), who lost both of his legs in the attack and must adjust to his new life in the months afterward. Tatiana Maslany plays Jeff’s girlfriend, Erin Hurley. The star power should prove magnificent here, especially for Emmy winner Maslany, who has yet to have a true breakout movie role. Green, on the other hand, had a misstep with “Our Brand is Crisis,” but “Stronger” should put him back on track. -Zack Sharf

“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri”

Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Fox Searchlight

Martin McDonagh and Frances McDormand. Need we say more? The British writer-director returns for his third feature after “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths” and brings with him what looks to be the most fiery performance of McDormand’s career. “Three Billboards” tells the story of a mother who takes matters into her own hands after the local police refuse to close the case involving her murdered child. The all-star cast includes Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Peter Dinklage. McDonagh’s work on “In Bruges” earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and he’ll be certainly back in the race this year. McDormand is also a major contender. The “Fargo” Oscar winner was last nominated in the supporting race for 2006’s “North Country.” If she lands a nomination for “Three Billboards,” McDormand will have five total career nominations. -ZS

“Three Christs”

“Game of Thrones” fans may know Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, but indie film lovers first recognized his considerable talents in “The Station Agent,” a breakout indie from Tom McCarthy that played TIFF in 2003. Dinklage returns to film this fall with the latest from Hollywood standby Jon Avnet, alongside Richard Gere, Bradley Whitford, and Walton Goggins in “Three Christs.” Based on psychologist Milton Rokeach’s 1964 book “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti,” the film stars Gere as a psychologist treating three schizophrenic patients who each think they are Jesus Christ. The film attempts to take an unflinching and empathetic approach to mental illness, centering the perspectives of the three patients. Avnet hasn’t had a hit since “Fried Green Tomatoes,” but he executive produced “Black Swan” and directed ten episodes of the critical hit “Justified.” Even if Avnet flounders again, it will be refreshing to see Dinklage freed from the shackles of Westeros. -Jude Dry

“Professor Marston & the Wonder Women”

“Professor Marston & The Wonder Women”

Annapurna/Sony Worldwide

When Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” gave us Diana Prince’s fabled origin story, there was no trace of the whips and chains she so often battled in early comic editions by original Wonder Woman scribe William Moulton Marston. Diana’s inventor was as eccentric as they come, living in sin with two women and harboring some radical views about dominance, submission, and monogamy. In this sultry new biopic, “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women,” we get to see the uncorseted side of Wonder Woman. Directed by Angela Robinson (“D.E.B.S.”) and released by Annapurna Pictures as one of the first films in its new distribution arm, the movie stars Luke Evans (“Beauty and the Beast”) as Marston, Rebecca Hall (“The Prestige”) as his wife, Bella Heathcoate (“The Neon Demon”) as the couple’s shared lover, and Connie Britton as an impeccably coiffed foil to Marston. Out lesbian, Robinson has had success with prestige television such as “Hung” and “True Blood,” and was a driving force as a writer and director on Showtime’s “The L Word.” Her two feature films, “D.E.B.S.” and “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” have leaned heavily on comedy, which is a strong suit. With Annapurna’s might behind her and subject matter this ripe, “Marston” heralds a new phase in Robinson’s career — a much deserved one that’s been a long time coming. -JD

“Mary Shelley”

“Mary Shelley”

Literary biopics are a dime a dozen, but the pairing of Elle Fanning and “Wadjda” director Haifaa al-Mansour suggests that “Mary Shelley” will be worth the price of admission. Fanning goes back in time to become a 19th century woman who seeks out “unconventional approaches to living” in the film, which focuses on the period of Shelley’s early life that included marrying the poet Percy Bysshe (Douglas Booth) and becoming inspired to write her masterpiece. Bel Powley co-stars in this look at the “Frankenstein” author, the true Modern Prometheus. -Michael Nordine

“The Shape of Water”

“The Shape of Water”

So many of Guillermo del Toro’s dream projects go unrealized that the few he actually gets to make qualify as minor miracles. “The Shape of Water” certainly gives that impression, with what little we’ve seen of it being instantly recognizable as the work of the “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Cronos” director. Del Toro’s monsters are human, all too human, and his cast this time around is formidable: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. -MN

“Lean on Pete”

“Lean on Pete”

The short-lived HBO drama “Looking” found Andrew Haigh tentatively attempting to spread his wings, but — for the most part — the British writer-director of films like “Weekend” and “45 Years” tends to prefer more contained stories, often revolving around two people in tight quarters. With “Lean on Pete,” which Haigh has adapted from the Willy Vlautin novel of the same name, that’s about to change in a big way. A sprawling but characteristically understated neo-Western about a boy and his horse, the film follows a newly orphaned 16-year-old named Charlie (Charlie Plummer) as he steals a washed up steed and leads him on a great, destitute adventure through the American Northwest. Dusted with sweeping desert vistas and populated by a range of raw and eccentric characters (the cast list includes Steve Zahn, Steve Buscemi, and Chloë Sevigny), “Lean on Pete” feels like the kind of thing that Gus Van Sant might have made in the ’90s, but there’s little doubt that Haigh will be able to see this familiar terrain through fresh eyes. -David Ehrlich

“Molly’s Game”

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in MOLLY'S GAME

“Molly’s Game”

Courtesy of STXfilms

Given the staccato precision of his screenplays, it’s a wonder that Aaron Sorkin ever let anyone else direct his projects (though David Fincher’s razor-sharp perfectionism was the ideal stand-in, and there’s a good reason why “The Social Network” is still the best movie that Sorkin has ever scripted). In that light, the shocking thing about “Molly’s Game” isn’t that Sorkin directed it, the shocking thing about “Molly’s Game” is that Sorkin wrote it. For you see, “Molly’s Game” is about a woman. Molly Bloom, to be specific. Based on Bloom’s memoir of the same name and starring Jessica Chastain as the author’s on-screen counterpart, the film tells the story of how Bloom found herself hosting a regular high-stakes poker game for A-list celebrities and killer mafioso before the FBI started calling her bluff. Co-starring Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, and Michael Cera, Sorkin’s directorial debut looks to be a predictably fast-talking underworld thriller about how the house always wins. -DE

“Dark River”

“Dark River”

Barnard’s previous feature, “The Selfish Giant,” was a heartbreaking look at working-class British life and her 2010 film “The Arbor” is one of the truly great documentaries of the 21st century. So Barnard’s return to telling the stories of England (as both writer and director) is as welcome as it is sure to be a poetic reflection on the Yorkshire region’s countryside. Lucy Wilson stars as a woman returning home after a decade and a half away to find a house and a past in disrepair. Barnard’s thoughtful approach to family relationships in her previous work, here through the story of two warring siblings, makes this the quiet kind of drama worth keeping an eye on. -Steve Greene

“Caniba”

“Caniba”

Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, the filmmaking duo behind 2012’s fishing boat sensory sensation “Leviathan,” are in this year’s Wavelengths section with a slightly different approach. Though the story of infamous international criminal Issei Sagawa, the film looks at his place in our cultural conception of cannibalism and the lasting effect his current life as a shut-in is having on the family members who are taking care of him. It’s unsettling subject matter with a promised unflinching approach to some dangerous subject matter. With the pair’s anthropological background, don’t count out Paravel and Castaing-Taylor finding a way to flip one man’s horrific actions on the viewer. -SG

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox