The Toronto Film Festival starts today, and this year’s lineup is so jam-packed with intriguing movies that we had to make some difficult decisions to prune them all down to our ten most anticipated. First of all, we decided to D.Q. films that had already premiered at other festivals. Sorry, George Clooney in The Descendants! Michael Fassbender in Shame: It’s not you, it’s us. (But don’t worry, we’re still going to check you both out — and how could we miss Madonna’s W.E., while we’re at it?) Even then, we had to give out an honorable mention to quite a few movies we’re looking forward to, like the Saoirse Ronan–James Gandolfini black comedy Violet & Daisy, or Michael Winterbottom’s Freida Pinto vehicle Trishna. Now that we’ve culled the list down to just ten, then, let’s hope the following movies give us plenty to talk about.
Jennifer Westfeldt’s comedy attracted a lot of attention early on for casting Megan Fox, but little did we know that she’d have an incredibly timely Bridesmaids reunion on her hands, too: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, and Westfeldt’s partner Jon Hamm all star in this comedy about, well, friends with kids. Add in Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott, and It’s easy to see why this is the movie every distributor is talking about.
Oren Moverman’s The Messenger was a terrific drama that managed to earn two Oscar nominations in 2009 for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson). This time around, Harrelson has the juicy lead role of a nineties LAPD officer under internal investigation; could a studio leap in and shake up the so far unsettled Best Actor race? The material was written by master crime novelist James Ellroy, so we’re expecting big things.
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have made three documentaries about the unfairly convicted West Memphis 3, but their latest installment promises to close out the Paradise Lost series with a bang. Now that the protagonists have been released from jail, one of the most frustrating true-life tales ever documented has a sudden happy ending.
Promising actress turned director Sarah Polley takes on infidelity from the tempted woman’s point of view: Michelle Williams finds herself drawn to the dashing Luke Kirby, even though she’s got husband Seth Rogen at home. As Rogen’s sister, co-star Sarah Silverman goes nude, and she previewed the scene
to Vulture. “I’ll tell you what you can expect: a Cream of Wheat–ish texture on the upper thighs, from knee to belly button,” she said. “And a misshapen upper thigh that actually is not misshapen because there’s probably more [in the world] like it than not, but it doesn’t look good in jeans.”
Pundits are predicting that Michelle Yeoh will deliver a powerhouse performance in this political drama about Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent almost fifteen years under house arrest. What you might not expect, though, is that the film was directed by action auteur Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita). A Besson-Yeoh collaboration where punches don’t get thrown? We’re intrigued.
The sex-addiction drama Shame has already picked up plenty of headlines on account of its full-frontal Fassbender, but will the sexy roundelay 360 prove to be its forthright counterpart? The movie reunites director Fernando Meirelles with his Oscar-winning The Constant Gardener star Rachel Weisz, but she’s just one of the stars in this Peter Morgan–scripted takeoff on La Ronde, where Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, and Ben Foster navigate interconnected, provocative sexual situations all over the world.
Guy Maddin is a Canadian hometown hero, and his films are more than just a movie — often, they’re a multimedia experience. This time, Maddin brings us the gorgeous black-and-white story of a gangster (Jason Patric) who’s returned home and is attempting to make his way to his wife (Isabella Rosselini), who’s sequestered in an upstairs bedroom. Easier said than done, though, because this dream house is a metaphysical journey through the mind; a fitting trek for a gangster named Ulysses.
We were big fans of Lynn Shelton’s Humpday, so we’re eager to see what she’s come up with for her next movie, which stars Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as two sisters with a bond so weird and secret that the actresses and filmmaker have danced around explaining it; all we know is that their dynamic gets shaken up by Shelton’s Humpday star Mark Duplass. Can Blunt navigate the transition from British ingenue to mumblecore indie queen?
Speaking of Duplass, he and his brother Jay will be premiering their latest directorial effort in Toronto, which stars Jason Segel and Ed Helms as mismatched brothers (perhaps it’ll be a fitting, gender-flipped companion to Your Sister’s Sister). When Helms suspects that his wife Judy Greer is cheating on him, he enlists his pothead brother to help him gather intel. The Duplasses proved themselves adept at navigating spiky family territory in last year’s Cyrus, so let’s see what they’ve got for us this time.
Photo: Photography by: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Copyright ? 2010 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
All right, fine: Damsels in Distress will technically close out the Venice Film Festival before it plays in Toronto. Still, nobody’s seen it yet, and anticipation is high for Whit Stillman’s first film in thirteen years, which is promisingly cast with Greta Gerwig and Crazy, Stupid, Love up-and-comer Analeigh Tipton. We’re excited! We’re also curious about the Jane Fonda–Catherine Keener comedy Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, the Hugh Laurie–Leighton Meester vehicle The Oranges, and Ten Year, which stars Channing Tatum, Oscar Isaac, Chris Pine, Anna Faris, Anthony Mackie, Chris Pratt, and all of your other favorite people. It’ll be a big year at Toronto if these movies all deliver.