Rejoice, Film Twitter! The first part of the slate for the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival was released and wow, there is much to look forward to! TIFF is one of the biggest film festivals on the planet, and it’s renowned for its ability to balance deep critical prestige with commercial clout. This is where a lot of awards players premiere, but it’s not as steeped in snobbery as, say, Cannes.
But it’s not hard to see why this line-up has so many people excited. These are some hard-hitting movies here, including some long-awaited titles, a few favorites from festivals earlier in the year, and the inevitable hidden gems that will be discovered in due course. The gala presentations, as listed below, are the ones designed to catch your eye. And here they are!
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (Marielle Heller)
A HERDADE (Tiago Guedes)
ABOMINABLE (Jill Culton)
AMERICAN WOMAN (Semi Chellas)
BAD EDUCATION (Cory Finley)
BLACKBIRD (Roger Mitchell)
CLEMENCY (Chinonye Chukwu)
COMING HOME AGAIN (Wayne Wang)
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME (Craig Brewer)
EMA (Pablo Larrain)
ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS (Drake Doremus)
FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold)
FRANKIE (Ira Sachs)
GREED (Michael Winterbottom)
GUEST OF HONOR (Atom Egoyan)
HARRIET (Kasi Lemmons)
HEROIC LOSERS (Sebastian Borensztein)
HONEY BOY(Alma Har’el)
HOPE GAP (William Nicholson)
HOW TO BUILD A GIRL (Coky Giedroyc)
HUSTLERS (Lorene Scafaria)
I AM WOMAN (Unjoo Moon)
JOJO RABBIT (Taika Waititi)
JOKER (Todd Phillips)
JUDY (Rupert Goold)
JUST MERCY (Destin Daniel Cretton)
KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson)
LA BELLE EPOQUE (Nicolas Bedos)
MARRIAGE STORY (Noah Baumbach)
MILITARY WIVES (Peter Cattaneo)
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (Edward Norton)
NO. 7 CHERRY LANE (Yonfan)
ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND (Daniel Roher)
ORDINARY LOVE (Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn)
PAIN AND GLORY (Pedro Almodovar)
PARASITE (Bong-Joon ho)
PELICAN BLOOD (Katrin Gebbe)
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (Céline Sciamma)
RADIOACTIVE (Marjane Satrapi)
THE LAUNDROMAT (Steven Soderbergh)
THE LIGHTHOUSE (Robert Eggers)
THE OTHER LAMB (Malgorzata Szumowska)
THE PAINTED BIRD (Václav Marhoul)
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD (Armando Iannucci)
THE REPORT (Scott Z. Burns)
THE SKY IS PINK (Shonali Bose)
THE SONG OF NAMES (François Girard)
THE TWO POPES (Fernando Meirelles)
THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG (Justin Kurzel)
UNCUT GEMS (The Safdie Brothers)
WEATHERING WITH YOU (Makoto Shinkai)
WESTERN STARS (Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen)
WHILE AT WAR (Alejandro Amenábar)
Wow! Where to start!
The one that has the most tongues wagging on social media is Joker, the one-off origin story drama of DC’s clown prince of crime. Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, this film has been the topic of much fascination since it was announced, and that impressive trailer won over many doubters. Its presence here suggests that it may end up premiering beforehand at the Venice Film Festival. If so, then Warner Bros. is certainly pushing this hard as a critical player as well as a commercial one.
As if befitting any awards season, there are biopics a-plenty. Marielle Heller, who has made two truly wonderful biopics in the form of The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, is helming the Mr. Rogers biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The trailer was released yesterday and delighted everyone. Surely Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers is just too perfect? There are also titles like Ford v Ferrari, James Mangold’s take on the feud between two of the biggest names in cars, with Christian Bale and Matt Damon squaring off at the 1966 Le Mans 24 hours race. Kasi Lemmons made one of the best films of the ’90s with Eve’s Bayou, and she seems perfectly suited to tell the story of Harriet Tubman, with Cynthia Erivo in the lead. Alma Har’el won top write-ups at Sundance this year with Honey Boy, based on the life of and starring Shia Labeouf. Yeah, really.
There are a few potential crowd-pleasers in there too, like Rian Johnson’s murder mystery Knives Out and The Goldfinch, based on the Donna Tartt novel. Speaking of literary adaptations, Armando Iannucci of Veep fame is taking on Dickens with The Personal History of David Copperfield, which features Dev ‘please cast him as Bond’ Patel in the lead role.
As is always the case with TIFF, Oscar talk is high. Apart from many of the aforementioned titles, there are buzz-heavy movies like Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, set during World War 2 with the director playing a young German boy’s imaginary friend who is also Hitler. Renee Zellweger makes her comeback as Judy Garland, while Adam Sandler gets serious (?) in the Safdie Brothers’s Uncut Gems. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, best known for City of God, brings us The Two Popes, starring Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins. That movie is written by Anthony McCarten, whose past three biopics won their leading men Oscars.
Personally, I’m revved up for Pain and Glory, also known as Almodovar’s 8 1/2, and Bong-Joon ho’s Palme D’Or winning Parasite. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. More films are to be announced so stay tuned!
Header Image Source: YouTube // Warner Bros.