Here's What We're Excited For At The Toronto International Film Festival

Photo: Courtesy of Working Title Films.
Brie Larson starring in an adaptation of a devastating book, Room. Helen Mirren playing a Hollywood gossip-monger of yore in Trumbo. Emma Watson embroiled in a military coup and a cult in 1973 Chile in Colonia. Eddie Redmayne making his next Oscar bid with The Danish Girl. These are just some of the tantalizing offerings on the Toronto International Film Festival's initial lineup, announced July 28.

The festival has earned a reputation for being an awards-season bellwether, providing a platform for films that will be discussed through the rest of 2015 and into the new year. There are definitely films on the lineup that I’ve been anticipating for that very reason.

My burning questions abound: Will Eddie Redmayne’s performance as transgender artist Lili Elbe née Einar Wegener in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl garner as much praise as his portrayal of Stephen Hawking did last year? Will Julianne Moore’s turn in Freeheld win her the accolades of Still Alice? Will Bryan Cranston find himself on his way to EGOT status with Trumbo? Will Ridley Scott return to form with the Matt Damon-on-Mars movie The Martian? Will Johnny Depp do the same in Black Mass? Will The Program tell us anything new about Lance Armstrong? The list goes on. (Other highly anticipated films, including Steve Jobs, are already headed to other fests, like the New York Film Festival.)

And of course there are plenty of other movies that piqued my interest, including new work from Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa), Julie Delpy (Lolo), Rebecca Miller (Maggie’s Plan), Terence Davies (Sunset Song), and Michael Moore (Where to Invade Next). Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight will tell the story of a Boston Globe investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church with an incredible cast that includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams. Brie Larson stars in the aforementioned Room, based on a terrifying novel about a woman and her young son held captive for years. Another female-led literary adaptation, Brooklyn — which stars Saoirse Ronan and I’ve already seen and loved — is also headed to the festival.

Films like Youth, Mountains May Depart, Louder Than Bombs, and The Lobster already have enticing press out of Cannes. Demolition, the latest from Wild director Jean-Marc Vallée, is TIFF's opening night selection.

I’m also keen to see Leena Yadav’s tale of three women in rural India in Parched, and the film from Alfonso Cuarón’s son Jonás, Desierto, starring Gael García Bernal. I’m looking forward to the performances from Emily Blunt in Sicario and Kate Winslet in Jocelyn Moorhouse's The Dressmaker, and I’m already expecting to fall head over heels for Maggie Smith — as I always do — in The Lady in the Van.

But it’s not all good news. There are some depressing stats about about the lack of gender parity on the list. As Women and Hollywood’s Melissa Silverstein pointed out on Twitter, only seven of 49 films announced in the gala and special presentation categories are directed by women. In addition to the new works by Yadav, Miller, Delpy, and Moorhouse, there are films from Deepa Mehta, Meghna Gulzar, and Catherine Corsini.

The festival starts September 10.

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