The curtain call over Toronto International Film Festival, which came to a close on Sunday, ushered in an entire blogosphere that is going full-on, crystal-ball mode. And, though the Oscars are a whopping SIX months away, and there are surely other ways to whittle down the time, we’d be foolish not to get in on the fun. Below, eight TIFF films that really left their mark.
Children of Men's Alfonso Cuaron has come out with his first film in seven years, and it's a doozy: You’ve never seen anything like it before. Unless of course, you’ve actually been stranded in space, in which case this mesmerizing odyssey starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as castaway astronauts will ring true.
12 Years a Slave
Toronto audiences were unanimous in their praise for Steve McQueen’s unflinching slavery drama, giving it a standing ovation after its gala presentation and the prestigious People’s Choice award at festival’s end, making this tale about a free black man who’s kidnapped and sold into a slavery an instant Oscar frontrunner.
Playing a hard-won cop out to find two missing girls, Jake Gyllenhaal proves that he’s got the ambitious thriller game on lock with this drama, the finest entry in the genre since the actor’s Zodiac film back in 2007. Hugh Jackman’s performance as a vengeful father is staggering, and Quebec-based director Denis Villeneuve announces himself as a major new Hollywood player. Simply unmissable.
Photo: Courtesy of Apatow Productions
Can a Song Save Your Life?
The most publicized bidding war at this year’s fest was underway even before the lights came up, at the world premiere of John Carney’s charming musical romance, Can a Song Save Your Life? So, after an all-night battle, who eventually won the $7 million rights to the Keira Knightley & Mark Ruffalo audience pleaser? Harvey, of course.
Most of the press surrounding Nicole Holofcener’s latest probe into the lives of white, middle-class men and women zeroed in on James Galdofini’s final performance. And, though we’ll always have love for Tony Soprano, ‘round these parts Enough Said is getting noticed for one, major breakthrough: Tavi Gevinson’s first movie!
It looks like this year’s race for best actress will be a battle of the Kates. Kate of the House of Winslets shines in Jason Reitman’s melodrama about an emotionally withered, single mom who becomes reawakened when she and her son are taken hostage by a mysterious criminal played by Josh Brolin. Cate of the House of Blanchetts — we loved you as Woody Allen's Jasmine, but you’ve been put on notice.
Young and Beautiful
A star is born in Marine Vacht, the stunning rookie actress who turns heads as a teenage prostitute in French director Francois Ozon’s unnerving look at beauty as a commodity. Expect to see the young ingenue in films (and fashion's most immaculate front rows) for years to come.
Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey’s casting as the lead in Chris Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar was met with a collective "WTF" from skeptics thinking that the slick Texan doesn’t have the chops to anchor one of Nolan’s brainy epics. His transfixing performance as a cowboy-turned-AIDS-activist in Jean-Marc Vallee’s gripping biopic, Dallas Buyers Club, says differently.