Most Anticipated Films of TIFF: A List by Ashley Menzel

Most Anticipated Films of TIFF: A List by Ashley Menzel

Toronto International Film Festival has long been my favorite festival to attend. The combination of the super-enthusiastic audience and the wonderful city of Toronto which embraces this celebration of the film each year creates a truly memorable and magical experience. This year, the lineup for Toronto International Film Festival looks fantastic and while there are dozens of films I can’t wait to see, these are some of my most anticipated at the festival.


The Aeronauts

The Theory of Everything costars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite for Tom Harper’s high-flying tale about a 19th-century scientist and hot-air balloonist making altitudinal and meteorological history.

Dropping a trailer right before the Telluride Film Festival announced that the film will be playing there is a great move and indicates a level of confidence in the film. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite on-screen telling a story that is exciting, inspirational and influential. It could end up being a huge Oscar contender and has a great chance of being a favorite of the year.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A jaded journalist (Matthew Rhys) reluctantly accepts an Esquire assignment to profile the children’s television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and encounters a profoundly empathetic world view that changes his life forever.

Following last year’s documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, our love for Fred Rogers has been reignited. Then take one of the most beloved actors of a generation, Tom Hanks, and you have the potential for some real cinematic magic.

Clifton Hill

Tuppence Middleton stars in Albert Shin’s psychological thriller, which follows a troubled young woman returning to her hometown of Niagara Falls, where the memory of a long-ago kidnapping quickly ensnares her.

Sometimes your excitement or interest in a film, especially at a festival, where little is known about the film, is just simply the description. Based on the description of this film, I am hooked.

Les Misérables

When three cops of varying lawfulness cross paths with local toughs, the Montfermeil district of Paris violently descends into chaos, in Ladj Ly’s Cannes Special Prize-winning debut feature that ingeniously weaves the thematic threads of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece into an explosive contemporary narrative spotlighting France as a place of seismic political and social change.

I am a huge fan of the original Victor Hugo novel as well as the infamous musical, Les Misérables. The themes in the story have never been more relevant than today, and taking those themes and portraying them against modern society is a powerful message. I can’t wait to see this.

Color Out of Space

In director Richard Stanley’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic horror short story, a meteor falls to earth and lands on the property of a New England family — its increasingly unhinged patriarch played by the one-and-only Nicolas Cage — with insidious, delirious, and psychedelic results.

If you have never done Midnight Madness at TIFF, it is something you MUST experience. The crowds are drunk, high, both, and/or just strange and embracing every little weirdness. That being said, one of the best actors who exemplifies who a Midnight Madness star should be, it is Nicolas Cage. He embraces every oddball role and out there film. Color Out of Space also is a film that is right up my alley and therefore makes the list of my most anticipated films.

How to Build a Girl

A working-class teenager (Beanie Feldstein) tries to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic, in this unconventional coming-of-age story based on British author Caitlin Moran’s semiautobiographical novel. Also starring Chris O’Dowd, Emma Thompson, and Paddy Considine.

Beanie Feldstein was propelled into the limelight following her incredible performance in Booksmart and everyone is anxiously anticipating her next performance.

Bad Education

Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano star in this fact-based dramedy directed by Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds), about an infamous school-larceny scandal that rocked Long Island in the early aughts.

The cast alone can sell this film and at least get people interested. Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano are an all-star cast of incredible actors. Touching upon a public school larceny scandal and the drama that entails, Bad Education could be an Oscar contender for this year.

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi directs a riotous cast — including Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis — in this daring, touching, and comedic satire about a young German boy who discovers a Jewish girl hiding in his home and consults with his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

Seeing the first image of this film, I instantly knew it had to be some out there concept but I could never have guessed the premise would be this far out there. Taika Watiti is an intriguing filmmaker that uses his films to create these vibrant and offbeat worlds and Jojo Rabbit may be the most interesting one yet. Depending on how he attacks the topic, it could have some timely social commentary.


Todd Phillips’ standalone origin story of an iconic arch-nemesis stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society. Joker is not only a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale.

Joker has taken a few risks as the next installment in the DCU series. While it is based on the comic book villain, it strays from the pack in that the story is original and not pulled from the comic book stories. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Joker is rumored to be award-worthy and the trailers of the last few weeks have heightened the anticipation for this film. It may be the film with the highest stakes at TIFF.

Guns Akimbo

A nerdy video game developer (Daniel Radcliffe) becomes the next contestant in an illegal live-streamed deathmatch, in this hilariously dark, viciously violent, and chillingly prescient sci-fi thriller.

Sci-fi thrillers are one of the most exciting genres for me because they meld the suspense of a thriller with the unknown capabilities of the combination of human nature and technology. For this film, I love seeing the strange concepts that Daniel Radcliffe seems to tackle, such as Swiss Army Man so I tend to trust his decision in selecting films to do.

Endings, Beginnings

An idealistic woman (Shailene Woodley) attempts to get her life on track financially and romantically, but gets caught in a love triangle with a free-spirited bad boy (Sebastian Stan) and his more stable, scholarly best friend (Jamie Dornan), in this tender exploration of love and heartbreak from Drake Doremus (Like Crazy).

I appreciate films that tackle the topic of mid-life crises for women and that we all don’t have it together. I’m hoping this is a realistic portrayal of that and shows the emotional turmoil that women face with their day to day lives. It will be interesting to see how Drake Dormeus chooses to present the romantic aspect of the film with Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan. I’m happy to see Shailene Woodley back on the big screen!

The Lighthouse

Shot on 35mm black-and-white film, this psychological thriller from Robert Eggers (The Witch) follows the slow descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) on a remote New England island at the turn of the 19th century.

Robert Pattinson gets a bad reputation for his propulsion into stardom during the Twilight films but since then, he has given some pretty stellar performances in films including Good Times, Damsel, and High Life. The team-up of Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, and director Robert Eggers seem like a pretty fantastic combination. Any films that deal with insanity, madness, and isolation are intriguing to me and puts The Lighthouse on my most anticipated films of the festival.

Honorable Mentions: 

Some of the films playing at Toronto also played at Sundance back in January and I saw them there. If you haven’t seen them, I would highly recommend checking out Honey Boy and The Report while you are at TIFF.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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