TIFF 2014’s Most Anticipated Films

Above: 10 of TIFF 2014's most anticipated films
Above: 10 of TIFF 2014's most anticipated films

When it comes to film, The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is widely considered up there with some of the most prestigious festivals in the world. This year’s festival kicked off on September 3rd with a fundraising Gala that featured an appearance by Academy Award winner, Al Pacino. Needless to say, TIFF attracts some of the biggest movie stars in the world, and this year the red carpet will welcome Bill Murray, Kristin Wiig, and Robert Downey Jr., among many others.

TIFF has always focused on independent films, and is considered a non-competitive festival. The main award given out is the People’s Choice Award, which takes into consideration the general viewing public’s opinion. Past winners have included 12 Years a Slave, Silver Lining’s Playbook, and Slumdog Millionaire. It is during TIFF that some huge films first start generating Oscar buzz, so with that in mind, here are 10 can’t miss films being screened at this year’s festival.

Love & Mercy – premiering September 7th

The story of Beach Boys legend, Brian Wilson, and his struggle with mental illness and addiction told across two time periods. With a strong cast, including Paul Dano and John Cusack playing Brian Wilson, and Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks in supporting roles, this music biopic is sure to be full of the same ups and downs that Wilson’s life was known for. The format of the film follows Wilson’s sessions with a controversial therapist, making it more focused on significant events than chronology.

Men Women & Children – premiering on September 6th

Director, Jason Reitman is known for his mix of comedy and drama (Up in the Air, Young Adult), and this film is sure to be no exception. Starring Adam Sandler, and featuring up-and-comer, Ansel Elgort, the film follows a group of parents and children as they grapple with love, lust, intimacy, and self-esteem in the internet age. Dealing with sexuality in an era obsessed with the internet is something we can all relate to, so this film is sure to strike a cord with at least some movie-goers.

Nightcrawler – premiering September 5th

Remember when those pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal looking gaunt and skeletal were making the rounds? The film he lost 20 pounds for is being screened in the Special Presentations section of the festival, before being released on October 31st. Gyllenhaal stars as an ambitious drifter who stumbles upon the seedy underground world of freelance crime journalism in L.A. His character becomes a “nightcrawler”, a photographer who races to the scenes of accidents and murders in order to sell the pictures to local TV stations. If last year’s Prisoners was any indication, Gyllenhaal has a good shot at doing a dark character justice.

Welcome to Me – premiering September 5th

Kristen Wiig is already well known and loved for being a comedic actress, but she has been working hard to build a following for her dramatic roles. In Welcome to Me she plays a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins the lottery, and then uses the money to create her own talk show focused around herself. With a strong supporting cast that includes Tim Robbins, and Joan Cusack, and with Will Ferrell producing, this one should be an interesting combination of serious themes and comedic moments.

The Equalizer – premiering September 7th

If an action-thriller is more your speed, then The Equalizer fits the bill. Denzel Washington reunites with his Training Day director in the big screen adaptation of the cult 80’s TV show that follows an ex-CIA agent who uses his lethal skills to protect a young woman (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) from the Russian mob. The classic themes of the protective instinct of a former CIA agent, and the satisfaction of revenge are in overdrive, but the action, and violence should keep you guessing.

This is Where I Leave You – premiering September 7th

Dysfunctional family dramas never seem to get old, because there are endless possibilities when it comes to the quirky relationships between siblings. The Altman siblings are forced to spend a week together when their father dies, and while they are all very different, they are there for each other despite themselves. With a cast including Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, and Adam Driver (of Girls fame), there is sure to be one or two hilariously awkward moments.

Still Alice – premiering September 8th

Based on the bestselling novel by Lisa Genova, Julianne Moore stars as a woman who struggles to maintain her identity while suffering from early on-set Alzheimer’s. Rather than focusing solely on Alice’s deteriorating relationships with the people she loves, the film zeroes in on how the disease affects Alice herself. As a renowned linguistics professor, Alice develops unique ways of dealing with her disease, and creating new connections with her family, especially her youngest daughter (played by Kristen Stewart).

The Sound and the Fury – premiering September 6th

If you are a William Faulkner fan, than the James Franco-directed adaptation of The Sound and the Fury, is a can’t-miss. Starring Franco, and Jon Hamm, the film follows the dysfunctional Compson family, the sexual conquests of sister, Caddy, in particular. Faulkner is all about character development, and Franco has already adapted his As I Lay Dying successfully, so this film promises a dramatic and emotion-driven big screen version of a classic novel.

Foxcatcher – premiering September 8th

Regardless of the subject, a film co-starring Channing Tatum, and Steve Carell, is already a must-see. In Foxcatcher, Tatum plays former Olympic wrestling champion, Mark Schultz, who, along with his brother (played by Mark Ruffalo), becomes entrenched in a strange relationship with his eccentric, paranoid schizophrenic, billionaire sponsor (Carell). The film is based on a true story, and it garnered a lot of positive reviews at Cannes, with Carell’s performance in particular, getting a lot of attention.

Wild – premiering September 8th

There is already Oscar buzz surrounding the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir, which describes her 1,000 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese Witherspoon optioned the book for film, and she also stars as the main character. Playing a younger version of the main character is Strayed’s real-life daughter, so the result should be a pretty authentic cross between 127 Hours and Terms of Endearment. Oh, and with Canadian director, Jean-Marc Vallee (of Dallas Buyer’s Club), this film will definitely be popular during award season.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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