15 Must See Films Playing at TIFF 2015
It’s September again which means I am heading back to Toronto to cover the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF 2015 marks 40 years now for the festival since it began in 1976 and the line-up this year is probably the most impressive that I have seen to date. Since it seems September should simply be renamed Film Festival Month, I am probably the most excited that I have ever been to attend the festival since the first time that I attended the fest. With over 300 films playing during the course of the festival, there is plenty to be excited about. There are several World Premieres while there are also a handful of films that just premiered a few days ago at Venice and Telluride getting rave reviews. So enough of my jibber jabber, let me quickly jump into my picks of the 15 must see films playing at TIFF 2015.
I’m still sad about the way that Before Midnight ended and it pains me to know that I may never know what really happens to Celine and Jesse since no one has confirmed a fourth film. Putting that aside, I think Julie Delpy is a great actress and a talented filmmaker. While her films, Two Days in Paris and Two Days in New York didn’t get as much praise as the Before series did, I personally really enjoyed them and found them to be funny and awkwardly honest. I am looking forward to Lolo just because I am curious to see what Delpy has done with this project and whether or not she has mixed it up a bit from her previous film outings.
The Final Girls
This one is just plain fun! I saw this at SXSW earlier this year and had an absolute blast with it. If you are someone that loves 80s horror/slasher films in the realm of Friday the 13th and Halloween, I think you will adore this film. It doesn’t have a really complex story but what it does have is a simply story that plays as a homage to horror classics while adding laughs, blood, and heart along the way. The cast, which is made up mostly indie and television actors, including Nina Dobrev, Taissa Farmiga, and Malin Akerman are all great and work together so well to balance the comedy, horror, and heart. While The Final Girls may not be for everyone, I think horror fans, comedy fans, and fans of the old school spoof genre that the Zucker brothers and Mel Brooks made famous will really appreciate this film and just have a blast while watching it.
I don’t know much about this film other than it got rave reviews out of Cannes and it stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, and Maeby Funke. I always tend to recommend at least one horror film each festival that I attend and since I saw The Final Girls at SXSW, I thought it would only be fair to recommend another one. I think any horror film that can get Patrick Stewart to star in it is something worth checking out.
Based on a beloved novel, directed by Ridley Scott, and featuring Matt Damon in Space, I was sold on The Martian before I even watched a single trailer. I truly believe that this will be the space film that everyone wanted Interstellar to be. I am not saying that I disliked Interstellar, but I wasn’t exactly blown away by it either. It should also be noted that Jessica Castain stars in yet another space themed film but we all know she’s going to be amazing here too. Other supporting cast members include Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Troy from Community. So unless Scott completely fucks us over like he did with Exodus, I think this will be one of the best and most talked about big budget films of 2015 right behind Mad Max: Fury Road.
Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in a film about getting old, doesn’t seem quite like the film that would wow audiences but the vibe that the trailer gives off begs to differ. I think its pretty clear at this point that Michael Caine is the white Morgan Freeman. He has an incredible voice, is so widely used as the old wise man character, and even in his 70s, can still can get audiences into seats at the local multiplex. I don’t know what exactly to expect from Youth, other than I expect to laugh and cry when watching it. It seems like a story that has been done so many times before yet I am predicting that it will be one of my favorite films at this festival.
I loved the Dallas Buyers Club but skipped Wild after hearing so many mediocre things about it. I think Jean-Marc Vallée is one of those filmmakers whose feature film debut told a really great story and featured an incredible performances by not just one actor, but two. I think almost everything Marc Vallée works on from here on out will be viewed so much differently than Dallas Buyers Club was. Demolition’s plot description
didn’t do much for me but after seeing the just released trailer; I was sold. Like most, I think Jake Gyllenhaal is an incredibly actor but I was on that bandwagon way back when 1999’s October Sky came out. Demolition looks like a really weird mix of comedy and drama. It looks like it will have audiences laughing one moment and then crying the next. What’s even more intriguing about the film for me is that it looks like the humor will be dark. I love dark comedies and with the talent in front and behind of the camera on this one, I think I will really enjoy it even though I think audiences will be mixed on the final product.
Directed by Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) and starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, Equals is an indie sci-fi love story that audiences who have already seen the film seem to be split on. I love Sci-fi films, I love romantic films, and I love Indie films so making a Indie Sci-Fi love story is right up my alley. It should also be stated that I may have an unhealthy obsession with Kristen Stewart. There is just something about her that always sells me and I think outside Twilight; she is one of the best young actresses working today. It really sucks that even though 3 years have passed, so many can’t look past her playing Bella Swan. I also think Nicholas Hoult has come a long way since playing an oddball little kid in About a Boy. I am so curious about this project because of the subject matter, cast, director. For all these reasons and probably a few more that I am forgetting at the moment, Equals sold me to buy a ticket for the premiere for all those reasons above. It might not be a film for everyone but I’m excited to see it.
Just from watching the trailer, it seems like Julianne Moore is going for another Oscar/Golden Globe win. The story here seems very timely and seeing Ellen Page in a role like this feels like the right choice at this stage in her career. Let me not forget to mention that Freeheld features Steve Carell in a dramatic role and normally when he plays these types of roles; he kills it. The overall vibe for this film makes me think its going to be great simply because of the cast and the story being told. I got excited to see the film before I even finished the trailer and that should tell you something about the project.
Trumbo stars Bryan Cranston and John Goodman so right off the bat, I’m already intrigued. However, when you add in the fact that it’s a bio-pic that deals with Hollywood in the 1940s and it is directed by Jay Roach, the director of the Austin Powers trilogy, you really sold me. I think this film will not only boast Award-worthy performances from Goodman and Cranston but it will be highly entertaining, funny, and pack a powerful punch. The trailer gives away just enough of the story to grab the attention of audiences but still leaves you questioning what exactly is happening, especially if you aren’t familiar with the story of Trumbo. I expect this to be one of the more talked about films coming out of TIFF and like many others on this list will be mentioned quite often come award season.
I saw Brooklyn at Sundance earlier this year and fell in love with it. I walked into the Eccles World Premiere screening knowing nothing about it other than it starred Saoirse Ronan and it was based on a book. Brooklyn is a wonderful love story and a great period piece. The film itself is romantic yet entertaining. It provides laughs, tears, and has a real emotional punch. It tells a great story about 1950s Ireland, 1950s New York, and female empowerment during the 50s. It is something that on paper may seem incredibly boring but its nothing of the sort on film. If you have a chance to catch Brooklyn at TIFF, I highly recommend because besides Me and Earl and The Dying Girl it was, in my humble opinion, the best film to come out of Sundance 2015.
Everyone can bitch and moan that Johnny Depp was in Mordecai, but I still liked that film despite everyone acting like it was as bad as the last five Adam Sandler films. Truth be told, I have always liked Depp as an actor even before he became a household name after 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean was released. I know people will say he was popular in films like Edward Scissorhands and while he may have had a cult following in the early 90s (his Cry Baby days), it wasn’t until Pirates that everyone knew his name. I think Black Mass is a film that Depp needs to star in right now. He has been playing one too many of these zany characters lately and I think audience members are growing tired of that. Sadly, Transcendence wasn’t the Sci-Fi masterpiece that many hoped for so hopefully Black Mass is his return to the top. Depp was terrific in 1997’s Donnie Brasco and the marketing campaign has been great. When you have great moments like the dinner table scene shown in the first trailer and mix in a solid cast supporting cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, and Joel Egerton, I think audiences are in for a real treat.
The Danish Girl
While I didn’t love Theory of Everything, I did love Eddie Redmayne performance in that film. His portrayal of Stephen Hawkins was n0thing short of amazing and even though I wanted Michael Keaton to win for Birdman, I will say that Redmayne earned the Oscar with his incredible and complex performance. The Danish Girl trailer just dropped a few days ago and while I don’t think it made the story come off as this remarkable tale; I do see Redmayne being nominated again for this performance. The premise is intriguing enough in my eyes and based on reviews from other festivals; I think this one is going to be something that the trailers just don’t do the actual film justice.
It pains me to say that last year, I saw The Cobbler at TIFF and hated every second of it with a burning passion. Nowadays, I expect a bad film from Adam Sandler but when I see that Thomas McCarthy is in the director’s chair, I usually expect great things. My prediction is that Spotlight will help the few who saw The Cobbler forget all about that film. This film which stars Michael “The Man” Keaton and Rose McAdams looks amazing, seems like it will tell a great story, and gives off the vibe of film’s like Broadcast News and All The Presidents Men. I have heard nothing but great things about this film from those who I know who attending Venice and Telluride so I am expecting this to be McCarthy’s return to form.
Where to Invade Next
Oh Michael Moore, how I missed thee. It has been 6 whole years since Michael Moore made a documentary and despite everyone hating on him for preaching to the choir with Fahrenheit 9/11, I still admire the man and love his work. I think Roger & Me, The Big One, and Sicko are still to this day some of the best documentary films ever made. With that being said, I am incredibly excited to see Where to Invade Next, which by the title alone will probably draw some controversy. About 7 years ago, I used to be really into politics but it has become such a circus that just the thought of the United States political system sends shivers down my spine. I have a brother in the military and I am really interested in what Moore has to say about where he might be sent. It seems like even though people in power claim to be against war; they all are doing stuff behind our backs. We need people like Michael Moore regardless of whether or not you like him, just because we need someone to bring these important issues into the public spectrum.
It stars Brie Larson. The trailer looks amazing. The film got a standing ovation at Telluride. The critics who saw it at Telluride are praising it as one of the best films of the year. Did I mention it stars Brie Larson? Simply put: I cannot wait to see this film, as it is my most anticipated film at TIFF 2015.