The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, which means awards season is (un)officially underway. TIFF—as it’s lovingly referred to by film Twitter and people who love abbreviations—serves as the bridge between the big budget bluster of summer movie season and the prestige of the fall. Studios head to the Six with their most-Oscar-worthy titles and clamor for the pole position on that long march to glory. This year sees a number of promising titles that could make some major noise in the months to come. Here, a few films hoping to get an awards boost in Toronto.
One of the biggest question marks at this year’s fest is this Tonya Harding biopic starring Margot Robbie. Without so much as a trailer to go on, we really have no idea what to expect from Craig Gillespie’s biopic about the disgraced skater. We’ve heard rumors that he’s struck a darkly comic tone similar to Gus Van Sant’s To Die For, a wicked satire on our national obsession with being in the spotlight. If done right, this could be Robbie’s Oscar moment.
Reviews have been mixed for this George Clooney-directed, Coen brothers-penned, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac-starring noir romp. But then again, this is a George Clooney-directed, Coen brothers-penned, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac-starring noir romp. Consider us sold.
Roman J. Israel. Esq.
An eleventh hour addition to the fest, this legal drama from Nightcrawler mastermind Dan Gilroy stars Denzel Washington as an L.A. lawyer in way over his head. Most of the film is still shrouded in secrecy, but word is that this is peak Denzel. And considering what Gilroy was able to get out of Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, we’re inclined to believe the hype.
Saoirse Ronan ditches her period duds for a catholic schoolgirl uniform in this coming of age indie, semi-based on the life of writer and director Greta Gerwig. The film earned raves after its Telluride premiere, with specific attention being paid to Ronan’s awards-worthy performance. But we already knew that Ronan can act. This is exciting because Gerwig is about to join the ranks of Hollywood’s most thrilling young directors.
Call Me By Your Name
When Luca Guadagnino’s stunning gay romance premiered at Sundance, it was hailed for the way it intimately captured the nuances of falling in love for the very first time. Armie Hammer finally lives up to the potential he showed in The Social Network, and Timothee Chalamet cements his place as Hollywood’s next big thing. The buzz on this has been building for nine months and a crescendo in Toronto should give it the push it needs for what’s shaping to be an already crowded awards season.
Christian Bale stars as an army captain tasked with escorting a dying Cheyenne war chief back to his home in the tribal lands, in this grim period Western from emerging American auteur Scott Cooper. Cooper—whose previous efforts include Out of The Furnace and Black Mass—is known for his visceral depictions of violence, and considering Indiewire called Hostiles “One of the most brutal westerns ever made,” we’re going to go ahead and brace ourselves.
David Gordon Green and “Oscar-bait” don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but how else should we describe this true story about Jeff Bauman, the Boston Marathon bombing survivor who lost his legs? Jake Gyllenhaal physically transforms to play Bauman, who became a symbol of hope for his grit and determination in the face of tragefy. A film with such pre-packaged Oscar-friendly material might succumb to the weight of its own good intentions, but we’re willing to bet that DGG and Gyllenhaal have other ideas.