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10 TIFF films to look forward to

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Film festival season is the time of year that we get first looks and critics’ reactions to what will go on to be the big award season films. Here’s a look at the films we’re most excited for from Toronto International Film Festival this year!

1. Widows (dir. Steve Mcqueen)


Premiering at TIFF and opening London Film Festival later this year, the 12 Years a Slave director is back with Widows, an explosive female-led action thriller. The cast alone will blow your mind — Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, and Elizabeth Debicki work together as widows of a late criminal gang, while Colin Farrell, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, and Brian Tyree Henry make up the sinister roster of bad guys. It’s no doubt one to watch out for!

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (dir. Barry Jenkins)

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation will be premiering at the fest, starring newcomers Kiki Lane as Tish, a Harlem dweller trying to prove her fiancé Fonny (Stephan James) innocent of a crime. The film also stars Pedro Pascal (Narcos), Ed Skrein (Deadpool) and Brian Tyree Henry once more, and looks set to be a tearjerker.

3. Beautiful Boy (dir. Felix van Groeningen)


Another award season alum, Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird) is back this year playing a father-son duo with Steve Carrell in this heart-wrencher based on the memoir of the father, David Sheff. The family “faced struggles with addiction, relapse, and recovery,” but the key message is an inspiring one of survival against all odds. 

4. High Life (dir. Claire Denis)

© Credit: Wild Bunch

© Credit: Wild Bunch

Gravity (2013) meets Lost in Space in this Robert Pattinson–starring Claire Denis film. After his incredible foray into indie film last year with the electric Good Time, Pattinson has once again found an brilliant collaborator in Denis. High Life follows “a father an daughter struggling to survive in the isolation of deep space,” and we can’t wait to see how Pattinson inevitably blows us away in the sci-fi genre too, alongside co-stars including Juliette Binoche.

5. Roma (dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

The Gravity director is also back with a new project this year — Netflix’s Roma. “The story chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s” — something that’s definitely close to the heart Cuarón, who was raised there. Roma looks more to be in the vein of Y Tu Mamá También than The Prisoner of Azkaban, but either way there’s no doubt we’re in for a treat.

6. Life Itself (dir. Dan Fogelman)

A love story from the writer of Crazy, Stupid, Love and Tangled promises great things. Add Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde, with a supporting cast including Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Samuel L. Jackson, and Antonio Banderas, and you just know this is going to be amazing. The story follows “a young New York couple from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, with the unexpected twists of their journey creating reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.

7. Everybody Knows (dir. Asghar Farhadi)

This Spanish-language film opened Cannes this year, and stars megastars Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. “Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister's wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.

8. The Hate U Give (dir. George Tillman Jr.)

A film based on the novel inspired by the fatal police shooting of Oscar Grant back in 2009 (which also inspired Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s first feature Fruitvale (2013)), The Hate U Give follows Starr (Amandla Sternberg), who “witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right.

9. Colette (dir. Wash Westmoreland)

Based on the true story of the early 20th century Parisian novelist, played by Keira Knightley, Colette wrote novels based on her own experiences at boarding school, as well as her own same-sex relationships, published under her avant-garde husband’s name. Colette was a pioneer for female independence in a male-dominated society, and Knightley looks at her best in this powerful role. 

10. The Sisters Brothers (dir. Jacques Audiard)

Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly star as Charlie and Eli Sisters - the Sisters Brothers - notorious assassins in 1850s Oregon who are on the hunt for a gold prospector, played by Riz Ahmed. Ahmed’s Nightcrawler co-star Jake Gyllenhaal rounds out this incredible leading quartet in what’s sure to be a fun and intense classic cowboy film from the director of A Prophet (2009) and Rust and Bone (2012).

Another festival film that’s due to play not at TIFF but at Venice is The Favourite from director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster). He’s collaborating once more with Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman, and adding Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult to his cast. the film follows the vying for favour at the court of the frail Queen Anne in early 18th century England. 

We know that Widows has been announced as London Film Festival’s opening film this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how many of these are coming to London early when the full programme is released!

TIFF runs from 6 Sep 2018 – 16 Sep 2018. 

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