Most Anticipated Films of TIFF 2017: A List by Ashley Menzel

Most Anticipated Films of TIFF 2017

TIFF 2016 was a monstrous year for the festival. It premiered some of the most memorable films of the year, as well as many of the Oscar nominated films. 2017 at TIFF is shaping up to be much of the same. The films that have been announced are exciting, and I can’t wait to see as many as possible. Here’s the list of my most anticipated films of TIFF 2017.

55 Steps
Hilary Swank, Helena Bonham Carter, and Jeffrey Tambor star in this fact-based drama about a mentally ill woman fighting the powerful psychiatric establishment for greater self-control, and the lawyer who becomes her champion and friend. 

Any film that deals with the psychiatric establishment automatically peaks my interest. The stellar cast only adds to my excitement for this film.

Battle of the Sexes

Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this recreation of the legendary 1973 tennis match that pitted Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs.

Since the trailer release of this film, I have been excited to see it, not necessarily because of the topic but because of the two stars in the film.

Review by Ashley Menzel

Review by Scott Menzel 


Actor Andy Serkis makes his directorial debut with the inspiring true love story of Robin and Diana Cavendish (Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy), an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease.

Andy Serkis is one of my favorite actors, and I’m excited to see him behind the camera. Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy are an interesting pair that I think could have great chemistry together. Following Claire Foy’s performance in The Crown, I will watch anything she does.

C’est la vie!

Directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano (The Intouchables, Samba) serve up a delightful comedy about a long-suffering caterer hoping to get through one last, mishap-heavy dinner party.

The Intouchables is an all-time favorite film of mine, and I can’t wait to see more from this directing team.


When a pet bird keels over in its cage, suspicion naturally falls on the cat in the apartment. But as this skillfully choreographed animation demonstrates to delightfully macabre effect, sometimes even one’s best efforts to put things right only make it all worse.

Sometimes you need an animated short to break up the heavy drama at a film festival. Catastrophe looks like it could be a lot of fun and the animation looks unique.

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman steps into the imposing persona of Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) period drama set in the early years of the Second World War, when Churchill’s rousing leadership inspired a nation.

After The Crown, my interest in Winston Churchill has been reignited. With Gary Oldman and Joe Wright related to this project, it can’t lose.

Review by Ashley Menzel

Don’t Take to Irene

An overweight teenage girl follows her passion for cheerleading and signs up for a talent-search reality show in order to prove that “physical perfection” isn’t everything.

Challenging the status quo about physical appearance, the film reminds me of a cheerleader version of Patti Cake$.

Human Traces

When a mysterious young man arrives on a remote Sub-Antarctic research station, secrets threaten the relationship of a married couple working on the island.

The setting of the film is unique and I want to see how it plays out as a character in this film.

I Kill Giants

Barbara Thorson struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters.

I tend to like films that are based on graphic novels, and I love fantasy. Hopefully, that combination will turn out well for I Kill Giants. 

Journey’s End

Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, and Paul Bettany star in this tense drama about the lives of British soldiers in a First World War dugout, based on R.C. Sherriff’s classic play.

I will see everything and anything starring Sam Claflin. That being said, I have always been fascinated by the World Wars, and I think Journey’s End will be right up my alley.

Lady Bird

There is nothing on the TIFF site about this film other than it is directed by Greta Gerwig, and the images show that it stars Saoirse Ronan. IMDB reveals the description as “the adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.” We shall see.

Review by Ashley Menzel

Mary Shelley

Elle Fanning stars in this scintillating biopic of the Frankenstein author, chronicling her tempestuous marriage to dissolute poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the fateful night at a Swiss chateau that inspired her most famous creation.

My obsession with monsters and supernatural first started with the story of Frankenstein, so naturally, my obsession with Mary Shelley also began. Elle Fanning is fantastic, and I think she will give an excellent performance.

Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut stars Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in the true story of Molly Bloom, proprietor of Hollywood’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being shut down by the FBI.

Aaron Sorkin is a genius, and his writing is incredible. Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are insanely amazing actors, and I think this will be a highlight of TIFF.


Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, and Garrett Hedlund star in this ensemble drama from director Dee Rees, an adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s prize-winning novel about simmering racial tensions in the Jim Crow South of the 1940s.

A considerably relevant film about racial tensions couldn’t come at a better time. I am excited to see Jason Mitchell on screen again following his performances in Straight Outta Compton and Kong Skull Island.

On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Billy Howle (Dunkirk) star in this adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel, about a newlywed couple whose honeymoon retreat becomes a comedy of sexual errors.

Outside In

In this new drama from Lynn Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister), an ex-con (Jay Duplass) struggling to readjust to life in his small town forms an intense bond with his former high-school teacher (Edie Falco).

Jay Duplass is easily one of my favorite actors, and I think everything he does is fantastic. Alongside Edie Falco and headed by the director of Your Sister’s Sister, this is sure to be a winner.


Charlie Hunnam (The Lost City of Z) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) take on the roles previously played by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, in this new screen adaptation of Henri Charrière’s memoir of his imprisonment and repeated escapes from the notorious penal colony of Devil’s Island.

Despite my indifference toward Charlie Hunnam, I can’t wait to see Rami Malek in this film.

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

Luke Evans (High-Rise, Beauty and the Beast), Rebecca Hall (Christine), and Bella Heathcote (Fifty Shades Darker) star in this biopic of William Moulton Marston, the American psychologist who put his progressive ideals about female liberation into practice by creating the DC superhero Wonder Woman and living in an “extended relationship” with his wife and another woman.

The mega-hit Wonder Woman was a smash at the box office this year, and there isn’t a better time for a backstory of the creators and inspiration. Luke Evans has won my admiration back after his performance in Beauty and the Beast, and I can’t wait to see this film.


David Gordon Green (George Washington, All the Real Girls) directs Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany in this adaptation of the memoir by Jeff Bauman, which recounts his struggles to adjust to a new kind of life after losing his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a force. Everything he touches has been spectacular. He is best with emotionally trying performances, and I’m sure this will be one of them.


The new film from the great Wim Wenders (Pina) is a globe-trotting romance about a water engineer (James McAvoy) and a deep-sea researcher (Oscar winner Alicia Vikander) striving to reconnect although separated by oceans, continents, and civil war.

I love James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander. The description of the film just spoke to me and sparked my interest.


Director George Clooney teams with co-writers Joel and Ethan Coen and an all-star ensemble (Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac) for this complex tale of very flawed people making very bad choices in a seemingly idyllic 1950s community.

George Clooney, Joel and Ethan Coen, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac. That’s it.

The Captain

Director Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife, RED, Insurgent) returned to his native Germany to make this stunning black-and-white war movie, which follows a young German deserter as he tries to survive in the deadly final days of the Third Reich.

World War II has always been a  favorite subject of mine, and I love the choice to do the film in black and white.

The Current War

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) directs Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, and Katherine Waterston in this account of the race for marketable electricity in the United States between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.

The combination of this cast and this director hooked me instantly. I didn’t need to hear any more.

The Disaster Artist

James Franco directs this giddy tribute to eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau and his best friend, actor Greg Sestero, whose notoriously awful film The Room has become one of the most beloved cult classics of all time.

I’ve already seen The Disaster Artist at SXSW and am interested to see what type of reception it gets in an international setting.

Review by Ashley Menzel

Review by Fred Topel 

Review by Scott Menzel 

The Florida Project

The latest from Sean Baker (Tangerine) juxtaposes the carefree summer of a spirited kid with the harsh realities dogging the grown-ups in her orbit.

Some films you just go on the recommendation of others and this is one of those films.

The Mountain Between Us

A surgeon (Idris Elba) and a journalist (Kate Winslet) must rely on each other for survival when the small plane they share crashes in the wilderness.

The trailer for this film was captivating.

The Seen and Unseen

A 10-year-old girl retreats to a fantastical, evocative dream-space to deal with the tragic impending loss of her twin brother, in this imaginative film from Indonesian director Kamila Andini.

Something about this description pulled me in, and I can’t wait to experience it.

The Shape of Water
At the height of the Cold War, circa 1962, two workers in a high-tech US government laboratory (Sally Hawkins and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer) discover a terrifying secret experiment, in this otherworldly fairy tale from Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth).
Del Toro always creates these fantastical worlds in which we live during his films. This seems to be no different.
The Upside
Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart star in this remake of the French hit The Intouchables, a dramatic buddy comedy about the unlikely friendship between a rich quadriplegic and his working-class caregiver.
Oh, I’m so torn on this film. I love Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, but I absolutely love The Intouchables. I really hope this doesn’t become another terrible American adaptation of a wonderful foreign film.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A frustrated and grieving mother (Frances McDormand) antagonizes her local police force (including Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) to call attention to the lack of progress in the search for her daughter’s killer, in the latest from dark-humor master Martin McDonagh. 

The cast and trailer intrigue me. The concept seems whacky but just weird enough to work.

Unicorn Store

Brie Larson stars in her directorial debut about a dreamer reluctant to abandon her childish wonder who is offered the most magical gift she can imagine, with Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, and Bradley Whitford.

Having loved Brie Larson since the beginning, of course, I need to see her directorial debut.

Woman Walks Ahead

Jessica Chastain stars in the true-life story of Catherine Weldon, a 19th-century Brooklyn artist who traveled to the Dakota Territory and became the confidante of legendary Sioux chief Sitting Bull.

Jessica Chastain is a treasure, and I can’t wait to see what she does with this true-life story.

With all the films that will be at TIFF, I’m sure there are many that haven’t made this list but will be spectacular. Don’t forget to stay tuned for coverage from the Toronto International Film Festival from We Live Entertainment. 

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