The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first 54 in its 2011 line-up today, and there are some pretty exciting features on the list. A few major Oscar contenders are making their world debut at the festival, and a number of indies that I’ve been interested will also have their first screenings. As well, favourites from festivals like Sundance and Cannes will be making stops in Toronto. Here’s a look at what will be screening at TIFF. Get the details over on the TIFF website.
* denotes gala presentation
Bold titles denote a Times Like Those pick
11 Flowers (Wang Xiaoshuai) – A young boy befriends a runaway murderer
360 (Fernando Meirelles) – The director of City of God takes a multi-storyline approach to modern love around the world. Stars Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, and a huge international cast.
50/50 (Jonathan Levine) – Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young man diagnosed with cancer in this…comedy? Seth Rogan and Anna Kendrick also star.
*Albert Nobbs (Rodrigo Garcia) – A historical drama about a woman (Glenn Close) who must pretend to be a man to survive. Also stars Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Janet McTeer, and Aaron Johnson
Americano (Mathieu Demy) – A young boy looks for peace after the death of his mother. Starring Salma Hayek
Anonymous (Roland Emmerich) – The director of The Day After Tomorrow asks a question that is only important to literary geeks: Who really wrote Shakespeare’s work?
A Better Life (Cedric Kahn) – French hottie Guillame Canet plays a chef who pursues a beautiful woman.
Burning Man (Jonathan Teplitzky) – British hottie Matthew Goode plays a chef being pursued by beautiful women.
*Butter (Jim Field Smith) – A comedy about competitive butter carving starring Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, and Ty Burrell
Countdown (Huh Jong-ho) – After being released from prison, a man tries to con a debt collector.
The Deep Blue Sea (Terrence Davies) – Rachel Weisz plays a privileged 1950’s housewife who finds temptation outside the home.
The Descendants (Alexander Payne) – George Clooney tries to get his life back on track after his wife is involved in a boating accident.
Elles (Malgoska Szumowska) – Juliette Binoche plays an Elle reporter who covers prostitution amongst university students. (This is the first I’ve heard of this film, but it sounds very interesting.)
Friends With Kids (Jennifer Westerfeldt) – Two people find that they are the only childless ones amongst their friends. This comedy stars Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox, Jon Hamm, Adam Scott, and Maya Rudolph.
*From the Sky Down (Davis Guggenheim) – The U2 documentary that will open the festival.
*A Happy Event (Remi Bezancon) – A young couple deals with the birth of their first child
Hick (Derick Martini) – A 13-year-old hits the road to become a superstar and escape her trainwreck mother. Stars Blake Lively, Chloe Moretz, Alec Baldwin, Juliette Lewis, Rory Culkin, and Eddie Redmayne.
The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim) – A psychological drama about a man (Willem Defoe) who is sent to find the last Tasmanian Tiger.
Jeff Who Lives At Home (Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass) – The directors of Cyrus and Baghead present “the story of one man searching for the meaning of life while running to the store to buy wood glue”. Stars Jason Segel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon.
*The Lady (Luc Besson) – The director of Leon and The Fifth Element brings a story of love amidst political turmoil starring Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis
Machine Gun Preacher (Marc Forster) – A former drug dealer (Gerard Butler) turns his life around to help others. Also stars Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon. (This one could go wrong, but it’s an interesting premise and a promising cast.)
*Moneyball (Bennett Miller) – Brad Pitt plays a MLB general manager who must reinvent his approach to the game. Also stars Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Wright
The Oranges (Julian Farino) – A guy falls in love with a family friend or something groundbreaking like that. Stars Leighton Meester, Adam Brody, Hugh Laurie, Alia Shawkat, Catherine Keener, Allison Janney, and Oliver Platt.
*Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding (Bruce Beresford) – A hippie-themed comedy starring Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth Olsen
Pearl Jam Twenty (Cameron Crowe) – It’s a documentary about Pearl Jam, shockingly enough.
Rampart (Oren Moverman) – The director of The Messenger re-teams with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster for this story of a renegade cop (Harrelson) set in his ways. Also stars Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, and Ice Cube.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Lasse Hallstrom) – People fish for salmon in the Yemen. I realise that alone is pretty thrilling, but it also stars Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, and Kristin Scott Thomas.
*Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley) – A relationship drama starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan, and Sarah Silverman
Ten Year (Jamie Linden) – Old friends reunite on the night of their high school reunion. That sounds pretty standard, but this cast is intriguing. You’ve got Justin Long, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation), Kate Mara (if you’ve seen a movie from the past three years, you’ll know her), Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights), Lynn Collins (she’s one to watch), and Brian Geraghty (also from The Hurt Locker). Oh, and Channing Tatum is in it, too.
Trishna (Michael Winterbottom) – A contemporary, eastern take on Tess d’Urbervilles starring Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Riz Ahmed (who I loved in Four Lions).
Twixt (Francis Ford Coppola) – A writer gets caught up in a small town mystery. But is it just me or does that plot description not really correspond with this set picture? Anywho, it stars Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning.
Woman in the Fifth (Pawel Pawlikowkski) – Ethan Hawke plays an American writer who travels to Europe and meets Kristin Scott Thomas instead of Julie Delpy this time.
(Sorry, you’re not getting plot synopses for all of these)
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) – That silent movie you’ve probably already heard about.
Chicken with Plums (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud)
Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) – Possible Oscar contender
*A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg) – The Freud/Jung love triangle starring Fassbender, Mortensen, and Knightley.
Dark Horse (Todd Solondz) – It’s Solonz, so this Justin Bartha/Selma Blair drama about “thirty-something in arrested development” is probably a bit less conventional than it sounds.
Drive (Nicholas Winding Refn) – The Ryan Gosling/Carey Mulligan joint from Cannes. Check out the trailer, it’s pretty badass.
The Eye of the Storm (Fred Schepisi) – Charlotte Rampling plays a woman on her deathbed who tries to reconnect with her son (Geoffrey Rush).
Habemus Papam (Nanni Moretti)
Headhunters (Morten Tyldum)
*The Ides of March (George Clooney) – Clooney directs Clooney in this drama about a young press secretary (Ryan Gosling) navigating the dirty world of politics. Also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, and Paul Giammati.
Killer Joe (William Friedkin) – A dramedy about a man (Emile Hirsch) who puts out a hit on his own mother out of financial desperation. It also stars Matthew McConaughey and up-and-comer Juno Temple. And it’s by the Oscar-winning director of The French Connection. Go figure.
Like Crazy (Drake Doremus) – College angst + Anton Yelchin + Felicity Jones + Jennifer Lawrence = Sundance winner.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin) – This breakout hit at Sundance looks moody, intense, and fantastic. I’m excited to see what Elizabeth Olsen can do, and John Hawkes and Hugh Dancy are huge pluses.
Melancholia (Lars Von Trier) – Obviously.
Shame (Steve McQueen) – Michael Fassbender re-teams with the director of Hunger. Should be a light-hearted romp at the multiplex, right?
A Simple Life (Ann Hui)
The Skin That I Live In (Pedro Almodover)
Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols) – It looks crazy in a good way, and it stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain.
Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine)
*W.E. (Madonna) – Abbie Cornish and Andrea Riseborough play women in two different eras dealing with love in this multi-storyline drama
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsey) – It was a hit at Cannes, and it stars Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and up-and-comer Ezra Miller (I’m going to predict right now that he’ll blow up after The Perks of Being a Wallflower next year)
Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki)