TIFF 2015: The Lineup

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Prepare yourself Toronto, TIFF15 is coming up…and it’s bringing a wealth of global film talent and awards season speculation.

TIFF is arguably the best time of year in Toronto (or as Drake would say….The SIX)…at least for myself and my fellow film lovers.  TIFF15 is also the 40th anniversary of the festival, which has grown from a homegrown film celebration to a world-renowned film fest.

There’s some big name celebs attending this year, including Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Idris Elba, Eddie Redmayne, Julie Deply, Kristen Stewart, Tom Hardy, Ridley Scott, Julianne Moore, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain to name a few. Outside of the Hollywood elite, there are some absolutely breathtaking foreign films, outstanding documentaries, lovely short films and exciting special events lined up for TIFF 2015. For a full listing, head over to http://tiff.net/festivals/festival15/schedule

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Here’s some of the biggest, most buzzed about and most anticipated films coming to #TIFF15:

  1. The Marian

Stranded on Mars, a NASA astronaut (Matt Damon) struggles to survive on the arid planet while his ground crew races to mount a rescue mission, in this interplanetary epic from director Ridley Scott. This sci-fi adventure boasts an impressive cast, including Jessica Chastain, Kristin Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara and Jeff Daniels.  The world premiere should be a sure winner for those TIFF-goers who want a great film and maximum star power.

  1. Sicario

Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has had a streak of impressive and impactful films with Incendies, Prisoners and Enemy. In Sicario, Villeneuve’s  gritty drug-war  thriller, Emily Blunt is joined by Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro, as a as an idealistic FBI agent who is pitted against two shadowy government operatives in a high-risk, cross-border sting against a Mexican cartel boss.

  1. The Danish Girl

Last year’s (much deserved) Best Actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe, the 1920s Danish artist who was one of the first recipients of sexual reassignment surgery. The biopic is directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). Judging by the beautiful trailer and pre-release excitement, Redmayne’s performance is one to watch as a bet for an Oscar nomination in this year’s awards season race. Co-star Alicia Vikander (a star on the rise) is also generating some serious awards season buzz for The Danish Girl.

  1. Legend

Legend features a double performance from Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) as infamous British gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray. The modern crime story follows the riotous rise of the Kray brothers through the gritty and violent ranks of the 1960’s London underworld.

In short, TOM HARDY…times two. .. need I say more?

  1. Beasts of No Nation

Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation tells the story of Agu, a young African boy, forced to become a child soldier in a rebel army led by a brutal commandant (Idris Elba). Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Season 1) lends his unrelenting and emotive visual style to a story of shocking violence, fear, and the preservation of innocence.

  1. Black Mass

Let’s face it… Johnny Depp has been letting us down for a while. We live in the post-Jack Sparrow world…but while we await Pirates of the Caribbean 200…. Depp is taking on the role of Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger – which is in many ways against his recent typecasting and way beyond our expectations. In a more serious turn, and almost unrecognizable in makeup – perhaps it’s time for Depp’s return. Black Mass chronicles Bulger’s 30 years as an FBI informant who rose to the top of the Boston underworld. The film also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Kevin “Footloose” Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll (who is in almost everything these days!).

  1. Freeheld

Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon star in this true story about terminally ill New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester, whose 2005 legal battle to pass on her pension benefits to her domestic partner became a flashpoint for LGBT activism.  Julianne Moore is expected to garner another Oscar nomination for this poignant drama about the fight for equal rights.

  1. The Lobster

Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos directs an international ensemble, including Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell,  John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Ariane Labed and Angeliki Papoulia, in The Lobster – a wildly weird and bizarrely original film that’s received accolades since it’s Jury Prize win at Cannes earlier this year. The film centres around a curious hotel where the residents are charged with finding a new mate within 45 days — under penalty of being transformed into animals should they fail.

  1. Son of Saul

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One of the most talked-about films of the year, and winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, this powerful and gripping Holocaust drama follows a concentration-camp inmate who goes to desperate lengths to secure a traditional Jewish burial for a young boy.

  1. Equals

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Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult star in the ambitious new film from director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), about a utopian future society where crime and violence have been eradicated through the genetic elimination of human emotion, and where those afflicted with the emotional “disease” are forced to go on the run.

  1. Dheepan

Winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes, this powerful drama from director Jacques Audiard (A ProphetRust & Bone) follows a former Tamil Tiger soldier as he flees from the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war to begin a new life in a Parisian suburb.

  1. I Saw The Light

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Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen star in this biopic of country-music legend Hank Williams. Hank Williams wrote and recorded some of country music’s most enduring songs before his untimely death at age twenty-nine.  At the core of this film is Tom Hiddleston’s magnificent performance as Hank. Not only does the English actor capture the singer’s charm and caprice, he also sings all the songs.

  1. Brooklyn

In the early 1950s, a young Irish woman crosses the Atlantic to begin a new life in America.  This Sundance hit from Festival alum John Crowley — with its stellar cast including Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters — is an exquisitely crafted period piece telling the tale of a young immigrant in a strange new land.

  1. Trumbo

Walter White   Heisenberg  Bryan Cranston stars as the famous screenwriter and Hollywood blacklist victim Dalton Trumbo, painting a fascinating portrait of one of the most emblematic figures of Hollywood’s Golden Age, who paid a terrible price for his political convictions. This biopic also stars Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane and John Goodman.

  1. The Witch

The astonishing feature debut by director Robert Eggers evokes Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in its tale of a family of settlers in 17th-century New England who encounter mysterious, possibly supernatural forces when they are exiled from their village and forced to live on the outskirts of an ominous forest. The trailer for the film is terrifying. I can’t wait to see the film.

  1. Spotlight

An urgent procedural concerning one of the most painful scandals in recent memory, the latest from writer-director Tom McCarthy (The Station AgentThe Visitor) tells the true story of how the Boston Globe revealed the Catholic Church’s cover-up of widespread child molestation within the Massachusetts priesthood. Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schrieber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci star in this true story drama.

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With over a hundred films screening each year over the 10 day festival, TIFF is a well-established stomping ground for awards season favorites. Get ready Toronto, its TIFF season.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 – 20, 2015. Get your tickets at: http://tiff.net/festivals/festival15/tickets

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