TIFF 2016: The Line Up

Brace yourself Toronto…. TIFF is going to be really stellar this year.  The glitz, the glamour…the lights…the cameras…the action.

Awards season speculation officially begins with the kick-off of the 41st Toronto International Film Festival. Awards season hopefuls and contenders converge upon Toronto, bringing with them some much anticipated films and some of my favorite famous people.

Below, I’ve listed out just a few of the most anticipated and most buzzed about films to be featured at TIFF this year. The full line-up is listed at http://tiff.net/?at=festival.   TIFF takes over the City of Toronto from September 8th to September 18th.

TIFF – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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The Magnificent Seven

Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the 1960’s western classic, The Magnificent Seven is set to make its world premiere at TIFF16. An all-out blockbuster action flick will open this year’s festival – featuring an all-star cast including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun and Peter Sarsgaard. Fuqua brings star power and a modern vision to a classic story about seven gunslinging mercenaries protecting a small community from a rapacious robber baron.

 

La La Land

This my most anticipated film for this year’s festival.  An ambitious jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) fall in love while pursuing their dreams of stardom, in this dazzlingly stylized homage to the classic Hollywood musical from Whiplash director Damien Chazelle.  Ryan Gosling crooning some jazz tunes in front of some glorious LA backdrops? Sign me up.

 

 

Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck (my favorite Affleck), Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler star in this emotionally charged and critically acclaimed drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, about a reclusive handyman who must face his painful past when he returns to his Massachusetts hometown after the sudden death of his beloved older brother. Casey Affleck brings such emotional depth to the “every man” characters he so often plays. This film has already generated great awards season buzz from the festival circuit…how do ya like dem apples?

 

 

Arrival

Quebecois auteur Denis Villeneuve has been on roll with some excellent and gripping films passing through TIFF in recent years, including PrisonersEnemy, and Sicario. In Arrival Villeneuve directs Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker in a sci-fi drama about the panic that follows a wave of mysterious spacecraft landings across the globe.

 

 

Moonlight

Moonlight follows its young protagonist from childhood to adulthood as he navigates both the dangers of drugs and violence in his depressed Florida neighbourhood, and his complex love for his best friend.  The film explores highly relevant and difficult themes that are pertinent in the current state of social, economic and racial politics. The themes in the film could be called “universal,” but are firmly grounded in a specific understanding of African-American experience.

 

 

A Kingdom United

Amma Asante (Belle) helms this biopic of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the former African royal who courted controversy with his interracial marriage to Englishwoman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) and later led his nation to independence from the British Empire as the first president of Botswana.

 

 

Mascots

Director Christopher Guest and members of his beloved stock company — Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley Jr., and Fred Willard — along with new additions Chris O’Dowd and Zach Woods, usher us into the high-stakes world of professional sports mascots, who are engaged in a cutthroat competition for the annual “Gold Fluffy Award.”

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Nocturnal Animals

Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Armie Hammer headline the second feature from director Tom Ford (A Single Man), about a woman who is forced to confront the demons of her past as she is drawn into the world of a thriller novel written by her ex-husband. Tom Ford’s debut film, A Single Man, was as haunting as it was gorgeous – let’s see if his follow up lives up to the hype.

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A Monster Calls

Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones star in this adaptation of the award-winning children’s book by Patrick Ness, about a lonely young boy struggling with the imminent death of his terminally ill mother who is befriended by a friendly, shambling monster that arrives in his room nightly to tell him stories.

 

 

Trespass Against Us

If I can find a way to work a Michael Fassbender film into my festival, I will.

The son and presumptive heir of a British criminal clan (Michael Fassbender) comes into conflict with the family patriarch (Brendan Gleeson) when he tries to break away from the outlaw life.  The film also includes an original score form the one and only Chemical Brothers – sure to be an interesting film with some top notch acting.

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Voyage of Time

It’s Terrence Malick telling the story of human evolution. Need  I say more?

 

Loving

Jeff Nichols (Mud) directs Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who waged a decade-long legal battle that led to the overturning of the state of Virginia’s law prohibiting interracial marriage. It’s hard to believe that only 60 years ago, interracial marriage was illegal – and that inequality and the right to marry is an issue we still face today. Jeff Nichols is an exciting and innovative filmmaker – I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with this subject matter.

 

It’s Only The End Of The World

Only two years after Mommy won the Jury Prize at Cannes, Quebecois wunderkind Xavier Dolan won the Grand Prix award this year the festival in France. This time for his dysfunctional family drama starring Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel) about a young author who returns home for the first time in 12 years to try to tell his family he is dying.

 

Birth Of A Nation

Despite the controversy surrounding its director, writer and star Nate Parker, Birth of a Nation remains a hot ticket and awards season contender. Nate Parker’s directorial debut is a searing account of the life of Nat Turner, the enslaved African-American who spearheaded an insurrection in 1831. From its very title, appropriated from the canonized yet deeply racist D.W. Griffith film, The Birth of a Nation announces itself as a corrective reclamation of American history.

 

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We’re spoiled for choices with this year’s lineup of over 65 films. Be right back….getting in line for my films….

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